(UPI Focus)
                                 Group has new look at TWA 800 crash
                                                 By HIL ANDERSON

    WASHINGTON, Aug. 27 (UPI) - A group of independent investigators says
 their analysis of recently obtained radar images lends support to the
 theory that there has been a government cover-up in the probe into the
 1996 crash of TWA Flight 800 off Long Island, New York.

    The Flight 800 Independent Research Organization (FIRO) and the
 Associated Retired Aviation Professionals said at a news conference
 today that their analysis of the radar data pokes holes in the federal
 government's conclusions that the disaster was caused by a fuel tank
 explosion rather than a missile fired either by a terrorist or,
 accidentally, by a Navy warship or plane.

    In the report issued by FIRO, the FBI, CIA and National
 Transportation Safety Board were criticized for what the investigators
 saw as misleading conclusions about the crash that killed 229 passengers
 and crew.

    The presentation, which stretched some three hours, came up with
 little in the way of a smoking gun that would prove any of the missile
 theories, and was aimed more at the evidence that was used, and not
 used, by the official investigators.

    The analysis of the air traffic radar images from Islip, N.Y.
 provided two routes of attack on the fuel tank explosion scenario. It
 aimed to cast doubts on the accuracy of a CIA computer simulation that
 showed the doomed plane rapidly gaining altitude immediately after the
 fatal explosion, a scenario that has been used to explain the fiery
 streak flying into the sky that some witnesses on Long Island reported
 seeing. It also indicated a good deal of air and surface activity around
 a restricted military area, dubbed W-105 by the Navy, which was
 activated the day of the crash.

    Thomas F. Stalcup, a member of the Florida State University physics
 department and the head of FIRO, said tracking the new radar images
 shows the Boeing 747 picked up speed in its final moments, meaning the
 aircraft was descending rather than climbing, which would have caused it
 to lose speed.

    "It is clear to see that the radar data doesn't follow the
 simulation data," Stalcup said. "The conclusion can be drawn that the
 plane did not climb."

    The radar information also provided a wider view of the area where
 Flight 800 went down, showing some 30 ships sailing in formation and
 patterns that could indicate an active naval exercise.

    The ship that attracted the most attention was an unidentified blip
 that crossed the airliner's path at about 30 knots a short time before
 the crash. The ship, which Stalcup said was larger fairly large, has
 never been identified and continued sailing toward W-105 as the airliner
 went down.

    What was unusual about the activity around W-105 picked up by radar,
 Stalcup said, was the seeming lack of reaction by the ships and planes
 to a fiery explosion that should have been clearly visible to the crews.
 None of the ships altered their course or seemed to make any effort to
 head for the scene to offer assistance.

    "It would have looked like the sun was setting," Stalcup said. "It
 would have been a huge ball of fire in front of them."

    Before the news conference, Reed Irvine, the head of Accuracy in
 Media, said any role the Navy might have played in the crash would
 probably not be revealed by anyone in the Navy because no one would be
 willing to risk their military career by talking to the media.

    Accuracy in Media organized today's news conference.

    Implicating the Navy in the downing of an airliner and any supposed
 cover-up, however, did not seem to sit well with some of the retired
 officers on hand to represent the Associated Retired Aviation
 Professionals, including retired Adm. Thomas Moorer, a former chairman
 of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

    Moorer said the Navy is not in the habit of firing missiles without
 knowing where they are going.

    "We don't fire a multi-million dollar missile willy-nilly," he
 said. "You have to have a target."

    "I don't think you are going to get to the bottom of this," said
 Moorer, who said the final word on Flight 800 would have to be
 determined through Congressional hearings that would have the clout to
 compel testimony from government officials. "You have a lot of evidence
 and no final decision."
    Copyright 1999 by United Press International.
    All rights reserved.