For additional information contact:
Attorney for Plaintiff
JOHN H. CLARKE, Esq.
H. RAY LAHR
Lisa Michelson remembers the moment she
saw the CIA’s video animation
depicting TWA Flight 800’s death throes and the seconds in which her
was dying aboard the Paris-bound jumbo jet in July 1996.
“I don’t understand aeronautics but
when I saw the CIA film of the
nose coming off and the plane climbing over 3,000 feet I wanted to
the West Hills, California mother said. “I thought, ‘How can they
“In my own na´ve way I thought about a
hunter shooting a bird and
hitting it in the head and him going back to the lodge and telling his
hunting buddies how he shot this bird and it started flying up, up, up.
wonder how many of his buddies would have believed that fable. I
believe the CIA either. I’m not a scientist but I do know what does
doesn’t make sense.”
On Dec. 15, a Los Angeles Federal
Court judge will hear arguments
about how much evidence U.S. officials must reveal to support their
that a decapitated Boeing 747 could soar thousands of feet after 80,000
pounds of nose and cockpit were blown off. The suit seeking the
comes six years after the FBI presented the CIA-produced animated
hypothesis of Flight 800’s last seconds and the National
Safety Board subsequently presented its own versions.
The issue is important because the
FBI, using the CIA’s analysis,
and the NTSB concluded that hundreds of witnesses did not see a missile
streaking toward the TWA jumbo jet off New York’s coast on July 17,
The agencies’ officials said that what the witnesses saw was flaming
from the crippled airliner as it soared upward after its nose was blown
by a hypothetical catastrophic series of mechanical mishaps.
The FBI announced that there was no
evidence a bomb or missile
struck TWA Flight 800 and caused the deaths of all 230 passengers and
members aboard. FBI officials said that although scores of witnesses
believed they had seen some upward-bound object hit the plane, the
observers were deceived by the disintegrating plane’s death spiral
That so-called “zoom climb” was
impossible, retired United Airlines
pilot and captain H. Ray Lahr of Malibu said. It’s his suit, filed
the Freedom of Information Act, that’s being heard in Los Angeles.
Lahr, a former aviation accident
investigator and safety officer,
filed the suit after the NTSB refused to give him the information and
calculations it used for its own “zoom climb” analysis or the
and calculations the CIA used.
“I don't believe the
zoom-climb ever happened,” Lahr said. “Boeing
provided before-and-after data to the NTSB, and it was published in the
accident report. Eighty thousand pounds of nose and cockpit were
off. This shifted the center-of-gravity far aft and generated
6,000,000 foot-pounds of nose-up torque. The aircraft immediately
up and stalled.
“The wing probably failed right then
since its center box structure
had been blown apart,” he continued. “But using Boeing's data,
calculated that even if the wing had held together, the most the plane
could have climbed is a few hundred feet, not the 3,200 feet claimed by
CIA. That is why I want the data and calculations that were used
produce the CIA and NTSB videos.”
Lahr said he tried to get the information
at the NTSB’s final public
hearing about the Flight 800 crash but was cut off by NTSB director Dr.
Bernard Loeb. Lahr said he then exchanged letters with NTSB Chairman Jim
Hall but got no answers. Lahr then filed Freedom of Information Act
requests with the CIA. The CIA said it used data and conclusions
by the NTSB. The NTSB said it couldn’t release the information because
was proprietary to Boeing. A Boeing press release said it provided
aerodynamic information to assist in the CIA’s analysis of the
performance (but) we are not aware of the data that was used to develop
“My appeal of the NTSB decision was
refused, so my only recourse was
a lawsuit,” Lahr said.
The retired pilot has an engineering degree from the
Southern California. As a member of the Air Line Pilots Association
Committee, he investigated eight major accidents that involved large jet
airliners or freighters. Two involved aircraft that crashed into deep
water, just as Flight 800 did.
Lahr said other pilots who were
eyewitnesses to Flight 800’s crash
and aloft at the time refute the zoom-climb hypothesis. Two have filed
affidavits in support of Lahr’s suit.
Retired Air National Guard helicopter
pilot Maj. Fred Meyer, a
Vietnam War combat veteran and an attorney, said he saw a streak of
with a trajectory like a shooting star explode near the airliner. Based
his combat experience, he said, the light was an explosive projectile,
“definitely” a military warhead. He and the rescue helicopter crew,
happened to be on a nearby training mission, watched the fireball
immediately plummet to the water as they raced to look for survivors.
Eastwind Airlines pilot David
McClaine’s aerial view of the Flight
800 fireball made him the first person to transmit the message of the
tragedy to authorities. He was piloting a Boeing 737 when he saw a light
ahead of him in the sky explode into a ball of flames, divide into two
large streamers, and immediately fall to the water. Had Flight 800 zoom
climbed, it would have done so right through McClaine’s course.
Paul Beaver, a missile specialist for the
British military publishing
house Jane’s, said both accounts sounded like a missile striking the
Lahr’s is one of two TWA-related FOIA
suits moving through Federal Court.
On the East Coast, another engineer has
taken the FBI to court in an
attempt to acquire the forensic evidence about hundreds of foreign
the FBI seized from the bodies of the crash victims during their
The evidence was never shared later with the coroner nor requested by
Graeme Sephton, who works at the
University of Massachusetts, said he
realized that, “unlike other evidence collected from the bottom of the
Atlantic, the foreign body evidence is definitive because there is no
chain-of-custody ambiguity. It cannot readily be explained
Sephton filed his FOIA in 1998. In
early 2000 the FBI said it could
find only 23 pages of responsive documents relating to the objects that
were removed from 89 of the victims. In July 2000, Sephton sued
for its apparent withholding of documents. That three-year
produced documents confirming that substantial forensic lab data were
withheld from the NTSB and the coroner. Among the 550 pages the FBI has
submitted to the Federal District Court in Springfield, Mass, the FBI
surrendered only one page of actual forensic results.
One of the FBI affidavits to the court
acknowledged that the FBI had
not and would not do a simple keyword search in either of the two
databases that a former FBI scientist identified as most likely
the responsive records.
In August 2003 the District Court
reaffirmed its 2001 judgment in
favor of the FBI and returned the case to the First Circuit Court of
in Boston for final review. On Oct. 24, (2003) the First
the lower court’s ruling and remanded the case back to Springfield
Court. The First Circuit directed the lower court to now finally
the FOIA issues raised by Sephton.”
A new hearing date is pending.
Apart from the single page released to
Sephton, the FBI has released
only one other forensic autopsy laboratory report out of those missing
hundreds, Sephton said. That report, originally classified “Secret”
FBI, was an analysis performed by Brookhaven National Lab to evaluate 20
small (~1/4” diameter) pellets removed during autopsy of the person
identified by the medical examiner as case 96-5037. The pellets were
designated Item “1B-28.”
The lab report showed that a sample pellet was
composed mostly of
aluminum with traces of titanium, zirconium, cerium and barium.
Such compounds are consistent with incendiary
pellets used in some
missiles, Sephton said. The report merely concluded “unknown
details of 1B-28 were among more than 200 fairly innocuous pages of
documents released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request
another independent researcher, Don Collins, in California.
Even if the remarkable incendiary
components could be explained,
Sephton said, the official low-velocity type fuel explosion could not
shatter aluminum into small pellets.
In Los Angeles, the federal suit to
dislodge the NTSB’s data about
Flight 800’s alleged “zoom climb” is scheduled before Judge A.
on Dec. 15 at 10 a.m. in Courtroom 14 at U.S. District Court, 312 N.
Lisa Michelson is supporting Lahr’s
suit in hopes she will get more
information about the death of her son, Yon Rojany, who was 19 at the
of the Flight 800 incident. He was on his way to Italy to try out for
Italian basketball league.
“I never could, and still don’t,
understand how our government can
discount so many eye witnesses,” Michelson said. “I also couldn’t
understand why these people were not allowed to testify at the NTSB
hearing. Too many things just didn’t add up. The majority of people to
I spoke thought me to be a conspiracy nut so I just stopped talking to
and tried to find out as much as I could on my own. Ray Lahr’s suit
INTERNET SITES PROVIDING FOIA SUITS INFORMATION AND FLIGHT 800
RESEARCH DATA. These websites are in public domain and can be published.
Website provides updates about U.S.
Federal Court lawsuit seeking data and documents about alleged
of TWA Flight 800 after the Boeing 747’s nose and First-Class area
following mid-air explosion. Contains charts, graphics, calculations,
documents, history of suit, etc.
Association of Retired Aviation Professionals’
website. Contains updates of legal issues, eyewitness reports, charts,
graphics, calculations, media reports, coverage, etc. at TWA Flight 800
explosion and crash. ARAP members include former military, civilian and
aviation professionals who are committed to independently investigating
crash. ARAP requested the Congress conduct its own investigation.
Flight 800 Independent Researchers Organization
website. Includes eyewitness accounts and sketches, legal and court
updates, charts, graphics, illustrations, and information about radar,
debris and explosives evidence relating to TWA Flight 800 incident.
founded by physicist Dr. Tom Stalcup, was formed in 1999 by a group of
citizens concerned with the course of the official investigation into
the transcript of Capt. David McClaine’s eyewitness account of TWA
destruction. McClaine was an Eastwind Airlines pilot whose jetliner was
Flight 800’s area. He radioed the first known report of Flight 800’s
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