(New York - WABC, November 29, 2006) -
Government safety experts have long blamed the catastrophe on an
exploding center fuel tank. The man you're about to meet hopes
to disprove that.
A retired pilot is talking about his major court victory in a
decade long fight to obtain secret records into the crash of TWA
Former retired United pilot Ray Lahr could easily be
dismissed as just another conspiracy nut, until you consider his
background and that he has the patience and determination to
wear down even the nation's top intelligence agencies as he
seeks to find what he says is the truth behind Flight 800.
At age 81, Ray Lahr could be kicking back, instead he's
taking on the CIA, the National Security Agency and the NTSB.
"This country is no stronger than the truth and confidence in
our government and if someone won't fight for that we'll lose
it," Ray said.
For nearly nine years, Captain Lahr has been trying to gain
access to records the government used to conclude that a center
fuel tank explosion, not a missile, brought down TWA Flight 800
ten years ago.
Back then, the CIA crash investigation concluded that after
the fuel tank exploded, separating the cockpit from the plane,
the aircraft continued to climb 3200 feet. The NTSB concluded
the 258 witnesses who reported seeing a streak of light from a
possible missile, actually observed burning fuel coming from
plane as it continued to move upward.
Captain Lahr refers to this as the zoom climb theory which he
believes defies physics.
"They've made some false assumptions put into that simulation
program and that's why I want that data," he said.
Captain Lahr may get some of the data. In a recent federal
court ruling, a U.S. district court judge granted the former
pilot access to most of the documents he's requested. The judge
stating in his ruling that, "taken together this evidence is
sufficient to permit plaintiff to proceed based on his claim
that the government acted improperly in its investigation of
Flight 800 or at least performed in a grossly negligent
Jim Hoffer: "What do you think these documents are going
Captain Lahr: "I believe that I could show that the zoom
climb never happened. If the zoom climb never happened then
they've got to find out what the eyewitnesses saw and the only
logical conclusion there is is that they saw a missile."
Peter Goelz, former NTSB managing director: "There is
absolutely no evidence that a missile was fired at this
Goelz was NTSB managing director during the Flight 800
investigation. He says Captain Lahr and other conspiracy
theorists continue to ignore the evidence.
"It shows clearly that the center wing tank exploded, ignited
and tore the plane apart," Goelz said.
Goelz says the wreckage trail shows the plane did continue to
fly after it exploded.
"So we know that the plane continued in flight whether it
climbed 3200 feet or not is really irrelevant," he said.
Captain Lahr thinks it is most relevant and he's not about to
Jim Hoffer: "Do you think you'll live to see these documents
in your hands?"
Lahr: "My mother's 102."
Among the documents the judge says the government should hand
over to Captain Lahr include eyewitness names, radar data and
aircraft flight data. The NTSB declined to comment on the
judge's ruling pending a possible appeal.