Associated Retired Aviation Professionals

A Mind-Changing TWA Flight 800 Report

By Reed Irvine

July 23, 1998

Dr. Vernon L. Grose, a high-profile defender of the National
Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) theory that TWA Flight 800 was
destroyed by a fuel tank explosion, underwent a major change of mind on
July 20 at a three-hour briefing on the cause of the crash. A former
NTSB board member and consultant to CNN, Dr.Grose has appeared on
national television frequently to defend the government's theory.

Curiosity took him to the briefing where a 109-page report showing that
the evidence doesn't support the fuel tank theory was released by Cmdr.
William S. Donaldson. Dr. Grose told reporters when he left the
briefing by Donaldson and others that it had changed his mind. He said
he had been misled by the NTSB and he could no longer defend their
explanation of the cause of the crash. He made his next TV appearance
that night with Bill Donaldson, this time criticizing the NTSB, not
defending it.

Dr. Grose's epiphany didn't make the major network evening news that
night. The Washington Times was the only paper that reported it the
next morning. The mainstream media aren't interested in evidence that
clashes with the government line on TWA Flight 800.

CNN got into big trouble for ignoring the evidence and allowing itself
to be guided by the belief that the government had lied about Operation
Tailwind. It wasted eight months trying to prove that our military used
poison gas in Laos, disregarding all evidence to the contrary. It was
roundly criticized by other media. But almost all reporting on the
crash of TWA Flight 800 rests on the belief that the government would
not lie. The media are not interested in evidence that disproves the
official theory of the crash. At the briefing, three of more than a
hundred eyewitnesses who saw a missile blow the plane out of the sky
gave convincing accounts of what they saw. Some of the reporters gave
them the same treatment that CNN's April Oliver gave to the Tailwind
veterans who told her she was wrong about the use of poison gas.

Evidence that the government has concealed evidence that doesn't
support the fuel-tank theory doesn't bother these reporters. They help
conceal what has leaked out. They lack the expertise to critically
analyze the evidence the government feeds them. Like CNN with the
Tailwind story, they are wedded to a theory and dismissive of anything
that contradicts it.

The briefing that changed Vernon Grose's mind made no impression on the
Associated Press reporter who was there. The AP sent its clients a
story that didn't mention a single one of the many items of
evidence that so impressed Dr.Grose. It didn't even report that his
mind was changed. The Washington Times added comments by Dr. Grose to
the AP story, including this: "I changed my mind today on what I think
caused it. I think it's more than likely that there was a close
proximity missile hit." The AP saw nothing newsworthy in that.

When Donaldson interviewed eyewitnesses to the crash, he plotted their
location and the location of the missile they saw. Triangulation
indicated that the first missile was launched about a mile from the
barrier island off the Long Island coast. Paul Angelides who was only
2000 yards away, heard the launch and saw the missile. He said it shook
his house. He tracked it until it exploded seven miles to the south.

Al Gipe, a World War II gunnery officer, from his boat 25 miles south
of the island, saw what he thought was an emergency flare go up about
15 miles to the North. It shot up like a tracer bullet, south to north,
exploding high in the sky after a few seconds. The estimated launch
point was about three miles south of the crash site. Two missiles, one
from the North and one from the south exploded almost simultaneously
close enough to the airliner to destroy it.

The Islip radar showed a large ship where the second missile was
launched. When the airliner exploded, this ship headed out to sea doing
30 knots. Its size and speed rule out a merchant ship. Racing out to
sea instead of heading for the accident site makes it highly
suspicious. Donaldson has tried in vain to get the FBI and the NTSB to
identify this and three other ships that were near the crash site.

Donaldson believes the second missile broke off the tail section of the
plane at about the same time the nose was separated. The tail and parts
of seats in the last row were found close to the nose in the debris
field. They showed no evidence of fire or sooting, indicating that the
break occurred before the fuel tank exploded. Donaldson charged that
the NTSB tried to conceal this evidence, knowing that it clashed with
the fuel-tank theory.

The briefing prompted Adm. Thomas H. Moorer to renew his call for a
Congressional investigation. Donaldson's complete report is on the
Internet at It shows what changed the mind of Vernon
Grose, one of the NTSB's staunchest supporters. It may change yours as

Home - Last Updated: 
 © 2000 William S. Donaldson III.  All rights reserved