It was “the” story of 1996.
“It” was the crash of TWA Flight 800.
To date, there has been no ofﬁcial explanation of why that plane went down.
Here’s what we know.
On July 17, 1996, TWA Flight 800 took off from New York’s Kennedy International Airport. Twelve and a half minutes after the takeoff, at about 8:30 p.m. and climbing to 14,000 feet, something happened to TWA Flight 800.
It went down 10 miles off Long Island’s South Shore, killing all 230 people on board.
The plane celebrated 25 years of service, just two days before the crash. It was the 153rd 747 to come off the assembly line. It had logged an average of 700 ﬂights a year, 93,000 hours ﬂying time, 16,000 ﬂights total. It was headed for retirement at the turn of the century.
The jet that was Flight 800 had been sold to Iran by TWA in 1976. A year later, TWA bought it back. The jet was well maintained. TWA had a good safety record. They had not lost any passengers in 22 years.
So, what happened to TWA Flight 800?
WBAI Radio Reporter Paul DeRienzo has been investigating this mystery since day one.
He’s discovered, that on Long Island, it’s now accepted as gospel that it was a missile that brought down TWA Flight 800.
His revelations are going to disturb you.
Q – Paul you believe that it was friendly ﬁre that brought down TWA Flight 800?
A – Well, I think it’s strongly possible. I’m not a true believer per se in anything. I want to go by the facts. I think this is something that has not been followed. There’s a lot of stories. Let me put it this way: I’m a strong believer in the old saying ‘where there’s smoke, there’s ﬁre.’ When you start getting normal adult human beings from all walks of life on Long Island who happened to be out on the beach, out on the boardwalk, on boats, at parties, and they all have the same story, there’s got to be something going on. There’s been stories about what goes on out on Eastern Long Island for a long time.
Q – Stories concerning military exercises?
A – Yeah. They deﬁnitely have a military area out there. They have a military warning zone out there.
There’s this government base called Plum Island which is right off the eastern tip of the North Fork. Long Island splits to a North and South Fork. Right off of the eastern tip of the North Fork, which would have been 30 miles from where the disaster happened. Plum Island is a base used by the government for biological warfare experiments, and various other experiments having to do with highly virulent biological agents. Nobody’s even allowed out there. As for Long Island itself, there’s a Naval Weapons Air Station there. There’s also Brook Haven.
Q – What’s Brook Haven?
A – I think it’s called Brook Haven National Labs and they do various military research. There’s a big defense contractor out on Long Island. It’s a suburban area where corporations build their headquarters, along the highways.
Q – According to what you’ve learned from the people of Long Island, they believe a missile brought down TWA Flight 800?
Q – And they believe the missile was ﬁred from a U.S. Navy Ship?
A – Right. A missile was seen. People believe a missile was ﬁred. But, no one knows where that missile came from or what kind of missile it was.
Q – Why would the missile had to have come from a Naval vessel? Couldn’t we have had a lone nut
out on Long Island with a stinger missile?
A – I don’t think so. It would have been hard to ﬁre it on land and not be seen by anybody. You have to realize Long Island, even way out there, is a highly populated area. It’s hard to start ﬁring missiles and rockets without being seen by somebody. You’re gonna be in somebody’ backyard. It’s like a suburban area.
Q – There’s no wooded area or campground?
A – Yeah. There are some. In the central eastern part of the island there’s a pine barren area. But, that’s getting inland. That’s getting far away. When you’re out on the east coast there, especially on the south shore, it’s all like vacation condos. All along the beach. Small towns are all vacation hangouts.
Q – How about someone firing a missile from a boat in the water?
A. Well, it’s probably not impossible, depending on the high tech type of missile. You know, we had the World Trade Center bombing here. I was never convinced that that was totally a terrorist act, in the sense of the whole story was told on that. What experts on terrorism I’m talking to are saying is, and what makes them scratch their heads is, what’s this new thing where you’re having terrorist attacks where the terrorist are not taking credit for it? It’s unusual in the history of terrorism.
Q – Paul, is it conceivable that members of the U.S. Navy could keep something like this a secret?
A – People have misconceptions about conspiracies. They think it’s something that happens in a back room where everybody plans everything out and what’s gonna happen. That’s not how conspiracies happen. To me, conspiracies occur because people see what’s obviously in their best interests and there is sort of a convergence of interests to shut up and not talk about it. No one wants to go to jail. Nobody wants to be investigated. Nobody wants to be dragged in front of Senate Hearings. That’s a
strong force to keep a bunch of people quiet.
Q – What information do you have on TWA Flight 800?
A. The day after it happened, I got a call from a friend of mine who was a former Marine, and who’s now a journalist. He didn’t want to touch the story because a guy told him he basically didn’t want his name getting out. So, they decided to go to me with it. They wanted to have as much distance from the story and themselves, and they wanted it to get out. My friend had gotten a call from his friend who was just out of the Navy. The word was among his Navy buddies that it was a friendly ﬁre accident and that there were witnesses to it.
Q – Is there any chance these people will go public with this information?
A – The guy who was the source of the information I got is in Navy Intelligence, the person who told it to him. I’ve met them both and they just absolutely refuse to go public. They’re scared.
Q – FBI Assistant Director James Kallstrom said, “The conspiracy believers are a very small minority.” Would you agree?
A – My family, most of whom live on Long Island, is convinced it was something weird. They’re pretty conservative Republicans. They had been talking to friends who are prone to believing the government is bad.
Q – Pierre Salinger said he had a document written by a Secret Service Agent that detailed how the
Navy was testing missiles off Long Island, and accidentally hit Flight 800 because the plane was ﬂying
lower than expected. Has Mr. Salinger ever produced that document?
A – It was a 66 year old former jet pilot that released the information which was very similar to what my friend told me happened. The Salinger story is very close to the same story I heard from my friend.
Q – Has that pilot been located?
A – He’s retired. He’s been quoted extensively in the media. They have his name. He never kept it a secret. He put up what he heard and what he believes. That’s the basis of the Salinger story.
Q – You were talking earlier about what goes on out on the eastern part of Long Island. Can you be any more specific?
A – There’s a lot of weird things happening out there as far as the military. There’s a tremendous amount of drug interdiction activity out there, looking for ships and planes coming in with drug shipments. It could be a weapon of sorts. We’re saying missile and we’re holding ourselves to missile. There’s a lot of strange military activity out there. There’s military developers out there. It’s not quite the same as say the San Diego area, or the San Francisco Bay area, or Mobile, Alabama which are big military bases. I’m beginning to lean to the possibility that they were experimenting with different methods of intercepting drug planes coming in.