It’s every traveler’s worst nightmare. Well up in the sky, over water, a jetliner disintegrates and sends everyone tumbling to their deaths in the sea below. Loved ones, with relatives or friends on the flight, hear the news first with disbelief, then shock, then unspeakable grief. All on board are lost, and the aircraft lies in a thousand pieces in the ocean.


Artist’s Rendering of Missile Theory

All passengers and crew may be dead, but numerous eye-witnesses are very much alive. The plane was only a few miles off the coast of New York, there was still some light, at dusk, and dozens of people saw a plane explode and disintegrate. Except, the stories they tell are troubling. The entire accident becomes shrouded in controversy. Pedestrians on shore looking out to sea, and even pilots airborne in the area, report seeing a sharp upward rise of some light or object, toward the jetliner, and only then the explosion.

After a long and contentious investigation, authorities concluded that electricity somehow sparked in central fuel tank cavity, detonating gas vapor, causing the explosion. But that conclusion will forever remain controversial. The public statement of lead FBI agent James Kallstrom, that no observer had “suggested the presence of a missle,” was simply, flatly untrue. Was Kallstrom completely unaware of the large number of eyewitnesses who were convinced a strike came from below? Or was he under pressure, and under orders, to produce a whitewash of the event, for whatever reason?

And why was the Central Intelligence Agency so vested in the investigation that they even produced an animated film designed specifically to refute the missle theory, and insist on the faulty fuel tank? While the FBI and CIA played pivotal roles in the investigation, the National Transportation Safety Board investigators felt pushed aside, and sometimes manipulated. Exactly what was that all about?

We may have more questions than answers about this tragic crash, but the appearance of a less than honest investigation is strong.

For this reason we open the file, Just What Did Happen to TWA Flight 800?