Associated Retired Aviation Professionals

Press Conference Summary

The FIRO event yesterday on Long Island lasted about three-and-a-half hours.
There were 8 eyewitnesses attending the event. They were: Suzanne McConnell,
Roland Penney, Fred (Fritz) Meyer, Dwight Brumley, Michael Wire, Darrel
Miron, Bill Gallagher, and Lisa Perry. Each one went to a podium and
described what he/she saw on 7/17/96, and also what their impressions of
events afterwards were, what they though to the officials who interviewed
them, etc. Then a FIRO panel (Tom Stalcup, me, David Neal, and Ray Lahr)
asked the eyewitness questions for clarification and follow-up. The audience
was also invited to ask questions.

They were shown an overhead transparency showing how the NTSB stated the
aircraft breakup  would have looked from the direction each witness faced.
The government animation was also shown several times. Each witness was
asked to compare what he/she saw with what the transparency and animation

What impressed me:

1. Not a single one of these persons initially heard a noise and then looked
up. Instead, they saw an ascending flare and followed it up to an explosion.
Some heard no sounds at any time (selective methane explosion sound
generation, apparently).

2. Every witness described the initial explosion as a bright white explosion
. Subsequent explosions were described as being red or orange. This is a
very important detail, in my opinion.

3. There was no confusion about a trailing streak of fuel being
misinterpreted as an ascending missile. Most witnesses saw the streak
originate low in the sky, clearly in a part of the sky never occupied by the
aircraft. When they gestured in telling their stories and referring to where
the streak ended in an explosion, they pointed rather high : nowhere near a
horizon or where a sand dune or a roof would be located.

4. The streak was described as vertical or close to vertical. Of course, the
aircraft never ascended in a vertical or close-to-vertical manner. 

5. None of these witnesses saw anything remotely similar to the NTSB-
mandated  climb of the aircraft or wreckage following the initial explosions
they saw.

6. Dwight Brumley and Michael Wire were scathing in their rejection of how
they were depicted in the official animation. Neither had been interviewed
by the agency creating the animation. In both instances, these witnesses
claimed the animation fabricated false elements while representing the
information as coming from Brumley and Wire.  Those two men are down to
earth and highly credible, in my opinion. One of them (Mike Wire)  mentioned
being interviewed in a very, very detailed way by the FBI. He was shocked to
see his 302 form later when the official eyewitness documents were released.
Much of what he told the interviewer had not been included in his 302. Mike
said he thought the interview had been so detailed in order to help
officials determine what needed to be covered up! I tend to agree.

After each eyewitness had spoken, the FIRO Eyewitness Study was briefly
summarized and explained. 

The event was not well attended by the general public.  I would say the room
was occupied by about 30-35 people, including everyone.

There was a news crew from Long Island Channel 12 television at the event.
They almost the entire event and also taped individual interviews with
witnesses. Robert Davey, from "The Village Voice" was there. A news
photographer from another paper was also there, but I did not learn who was
working for. FIRO made a tape of the entire event, I think, and may be doing
something with that record in the future. Also, a New York radio station
audio taped the event: I was told they were planning to do a series based on
the eyewitness accounts.

I met some very interesting people there, and am very glad I had a chance to

Tom Shoemaker

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