The Radar Evidence

FAA radar sites recorded high speed debris significantly off the right of TWA 800’s flight path at the beginning of the crash sequence.

Right-Moving Debris Refutes Official Theory

The official crash sequence for TWA 800 does not account for high speed debris ejected to the right of the jetliner’s flight path, because that sequence contains no high velocity event and no rightward projection of debris.

“On page 260 of the NTSB Final Report the fuel-air explosion that caused the crash is described as an ‘overpressure event,’ which caused a forward wall of the [center wing fuel] tank to fracture ‘at its upper end and…rotate forward about its lower end.’….and that because of the location of the failure, forces would be directed longitudinally forward with respect to the airplane.” See senior NTSB investigator (Ret.) Hank Hughes’ petition to the NTSB.

However, according to a report filed by FBI radar consultant Michael O’Rourke originally obtained by Village Voice reporter Robert Davey, debris “kicked out to the right” of the aircraft just as it lost electrical power. This debris, according to NTSB official John Clark at the NTSB’s 1997 public hearing on the crash, was “consistent with the explosion” that caused the crash.

But neither the FBI nor NTSB has been able to explain this debris. After not locating any such wreckage pattern in official debris field maps, O’Rourke “became quite curious as to what portions of the aircraft these could be.”  Relevant NTSB officials were apparently oblivious.  NTSB Sequencing Group Chairman Jim Wildey who authored the NTSB’s crash sequence report simply said that “nothing exited the aircraft” at any speed at that time.  Mr. Wildey explained the NTSB crash sequence in the CNN documentary “No Survivors,” saying that wreckage was initially sucked out of a hole in the belly of the plane.

Right-Moving Debris Confirms Witness Observations

A significant aspect of this right-moving debris is that it confirms many eyewitness accounts, which include descriptions of an object approaching the jetliner from left to right and exploding near it. Air National Guard helicopter pilot Major Fred Meyer was flying on  a midair refueling mission and his description while looking westward, of a fast moving object moving right to left and ending in what he described as a “flak” (military ordnance) explosion is consistent with many other eyewitness accounts. It is also consistent with the location, trajectory, and timing of the high velocity debris recorded on radar.  Many other witnesses such as structural engineer Paul Angelides and High School Principal Joseph Delgado confirmed that a south-bound object first approached TWA 800 before it erupted into flames.

Mr. Delgado provided the FBI with a drawing of the incident showing what he labeled as a “puff” at the end of this object’s trajectory.  When considering that drawing and other information in Delgado’s FBI file, including the landmarks and the approximate height above a distant treeline where the puff appeared, the south-bound object turned into a “puff” at an angle above the treeline and on a compass bearing consistent with where TWA 800 lost electrical power.  Delgado’s drawing of a second object’s eastward and fiery descent to the surface, which begins at the “puff”, matches NTSB simulations of TWA 800’s post-event flight path and is consistent with where Navy divers found the main wreckage.

The “flak” described by Major Meyer and the “puff” described by Mr. Delgado both match the radar evidence of high-speed and south-moving debris recorded by radar sites at the beginning of TWA 800’s breakup sequence.

Right-Moving Debris Confirms High-Velocity Explosion

The documentary “TWA Flight 800” and the petition to the NTSB presents a ballistics analysis of the radar evidence indicating that the initial velocity of the debris was Mach 4 (four times the speed of sound) or greater. This indicates that a high velocity event (most likely associated with a high velocity explosion) occurred nearly simultaneously with the loss of the jetliner’s electrical power.  That event generated high-velocity debris that traveled rightward with respect to TWA 800.

The official crash sequence does not account for any high-velocity explosions at any time, and is therefore inconsistent with the radar evidence.  The NTSB responded to the petition by claiming the radar evidence was of insufficient “quality” to exclude the official crash sequence, but the Safety Board did not conduct the necessary statistical analysis of the data sets in question to support their claim.  The petitioners subsequently conducted that analysis and determined the data was of sufficient quality.