TWA FLIGHT 800
|By Joey Mac Lellan 7/21/1999|
|Three years after TWA Flight 800 exploded in the sky, about
15 miles south of Moriches Inlet, there still remains serious doubt about
the official government explanation of the disaster which killed 230 people.
The National Transportation Safety Bureau (NTSB) claims a spark from a chafed wire by the Boeing 747-131 aircraft's Center Wing Tank (CWT) caused the explosion, while others believe one or two missiles destroyed the plane.
A third theory suggests the commercial airline might have accidentally flown into the beam of a "coherent" electromagnetic pulse (EMP) being tested jointly by the Navy, Air Force and Army.
The EMP hypothesis has been promoted primarily by Chris Fidis, of West Hempstead, Frank Owens, of Virginia, and Professor Elaine Scarry, of Massachusetts. Fidis is a computer programmer and "trouble shooter" who has spent the past three years investigating the FL800 issue; Owens is a private investigator and Scarry is a Cabot Professor of Aesthetics and the General Theory of Value at Harvard University.
Pentagon officials declined comment on the Fidis-Owens-Scarry (FOS) theory, but documents obtained, from the U.S. Department of Defense's server computer sites, by Fidis and by Owens, from a high ranking engineer involved in EMP testing for the Navy, suggest at least some validity to the theory.
After much controversy, the NTSB admitted it was exploring the possibility of the EMP (a condensed microwave radar beam) explanation, but has not officially deviated from its claim that an electronic or mechanical malfunction allegedly caused FL800's CWT to explode on July 17, 1996, killing the 230 people on board. The malfunction conclusion has been disputed heavily by military officers and aviation experts from around the country.
Commander William S. Donaldson, USN (Retired), and the Associated Retired Aviation Professionals (ARAP) group, which was founded by several individuals who do not believe the mechanical malfunction theory, say that most of the evidence collected indicates the Boeing 747-131 was destroyed by one or more heat-seeking Stinger missiles.
Donaldson, who spent his career in the Navy as an aircraft crash specialist, contends the most important issue in the FL800 puzzle is that so many eyewitnesses have offered the same, or similar, descriptions of having seen what appeared to be a missile heading toward FL800 just before it exploded.
(The FOS theory, however, suggests both explanations may be at least partially correct. "The Center Wing Tank did indeed explode," said Fidis. "That explosion was caused by a powerful lot of heat and energy.")
In his 124-page "Interim Report on the Crash of TWA Flight 800 and the Action of the NTSB and the FBI," Donaldson notes, "If one assumes that a 'reliable' witness can report an observation correctly in only one out of five observations, then there is only a 20% probability that an event reported by such a witness would have actually taken place as described. With 40 such independent and similarly 'reliable' witnesses, the probability rises to 99.99% that the event reported did indeed take place.
"More than 150 credible witnesses - including several scientists and business executives - have told the FBI and military experts they saw a missile [or drone] destroy TWA Flight 800," Donaldson said.
The military denies the use or loss of any of its missile munitions and said it had recovered all of its drone targets used during maneuvers on July 17, 1996.
In a memoranda posted on a Pentagon site and obtained by Fidis, General Howard M. Estes, commander in chief of the U.S. Space Command at the Pentagon, states, "We went back just to make sure something hadn't been missed somewhere and took a missile count of every single missile we had - Army, Navy and Air Force - to make sure that something didn't happen. We looked at the location of every aircraft to make sure we knew where everything was - where ships were - and we validated to the best of our ability. We are convinced that the military was not involved in this in any way, shape or form."
In a magazine article printed in Exotic Research Report last spring, Fidis states the Navy was "extremely active" in the area because of military testing. There were several AEGIS class Navy cruisers, including the USS Normandy, several small recovery-type crafts and two Lockheed-Martin P3C-Orion radar patrol air crafts involved in training exercises.
In her 1998 paper "The Fall of TWA 800: The Possibility of Electromagnetic Interference," Scarry wrote, "The FAA log books also confirmed that the military had that night reserved [the entire area south of Long Island for weapons testing and maneuvers, and] We do know military craft were in the air and sea at the moment TWA 800 had reached 13,700 feet and began to fall."
Fidis, who has spent much of his time during the past three years investigating the FL800 incident, is convinced the military is being disingenuous. He noted no one is disputing the fact there was an explosion. Obviously, he said, there was some "residue" of Jet-A type fuel in the plane's CWT that exploded. The only disagreement is how that explosion was caused.
The NTSB, with assistance from the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency, which has no charter to operate within U.S. boundaries) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), have been promoting the notion that the heat source that caused the explosion in the CWT of FL800 was "chafed wires" or "damaged electric protective conduits."
According to Donaldson and other aviation experts, it is impossible to ignite Jet-A-type fuel with an electric spark. The latest data, he said, shows that Jet-A fuel, which is similar to kerosene, is safe unless it is met with a high explosive impact or intense heat. Such an impact could only be caused by a bomb or missile, Donaldson said.
Having spent the past three years culling through government, commercial and organization servers that have referenced FL800, Fidis believes what caused the explosion in the CWT was an intense heat force created by a dense or "coherent" electromagnetic pulse radiation system that may possibly have come from something like a truck-sized "microwave canon" mounted on one of the Navy's AEGIS cruisers, which was participating in maneuvers involving a faction of the USS Aircraft Carrier Eisenhower's North Atlantic battle group at the time of the explosion.
A short time after Fidis and Scarry separately presented their information to the NTSB explaining the FOS theory, Bernard Loeb, director of aviation safety for the NTSB, announced his agency had indeed been investigating the "possibility" the accident could have been caused by an "external electromagnetic field."
In the meantime, Fidis discovered the Navy had been testing electromagnetic field technology in its Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) radar (microwave) system, which violates a 25-year-old anti-ballistic missile (ABM) treaty between the U.S. and Russia (the former Soviet Union).
Fidis, who possesses documents with e-mail and web site addresses attached to them, said he has never been an alarmist or conspiracist, but "the 230 people on FL800 deserve the truth to be told."
According to Fidis and Owens, with the elimination of the $200 billion "Star Wars" Strategic Defense Initiative, the Navy, Army and Air Force have been testing a Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor program that is supposed to work with the Navy's CEC program, but apparently there had been some difficulty with its software, which was developed by Lockheed Martin, one of the country's largest defense contractors.
The military has monitored this technology at several testing grounds, including the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF), off the northern island of Kauai in Hawaii.
There are similar defense areas, running from the New Jersey shore, along Long Island, up past Boston and on to Halifax, Nova Scotia. This offshore weapons testing area is located about 15 miles south of Long Island and divided up into several grids.
Official aviation and nautical charts of offshore waters are marked and denote, "Warning: National Defense Operating Areas . Operations hazardous to the flight of aircraft conducted in this area."
FL800 witnesses claimed they saw a low-flying missile crossing over the barrier beach, heading out to sea before turning up toward FL800. Others reported seeing a low-flying missile heading upward, but parallel to the beach.
In a 1997 summary of the Cruise Missile Defense (CMD) program's Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration (ACTD), also known as "Mountain Top," Eli Zimet, from the Office of Naval Research, said that in a CEC-THAAD test, "surface-to-air missiles were launched from an AEGIS cruiser to engage sea-skimming cruise missile test targets [drones] well beyond the ship's radar horizon" during the PMRF tests off Kauai.
During the testing, the Navy uses a P3C-Orion, a land-based, long-range anti-submarine warfare patrol aircraft, equipped with advanced submarine detection sensors, such as directional frequency and ranging (DIFAR) sonobuoys and magnetic anomaly detection (MAD) gear. A P3C-Orion flies at about 20,000 feet to 30,000 feet above the surface to enhance the CEC over-the-horizon radar system.
The military and area radar systems confirmed two P3C-Orions were flying over the Long Island area at 20,000 feet and much higher when FL800 exploded at 13,700 feet.
While the FBI was investigating the FL800 incident, it discovered a large, unidentified ship was picked up near the southern horizon on a radar screen at Islip-MacArthur Airport, which "officially" covers a radius of 60 miles.
That ship dashed off past the horizon at an estimated 30 knots. The Navy denies it was one of its ships, but most AEGIS cruisers, destroyers and frigates are listed in Jane's Battleships encyclopedia as having a maximum speed capability of 28 to 32 knots.
The Navy claims the USS Normandy, a CG-47 Ticandaroga Class AEGIS cruiser, was 183 nautical miles away. Under normal circumstances, Navy officials noted, the Normandy's radar system would have picked up FL800, except that it was operating under low electrical capability at the time of the explosion.
According to Rear Admiral Edward Kristensen, of the North Atlantic Fleet, at the time FL800 exploded, the USS Normandy was conducting basic engineering control exercises that could cause a fluctuation in the ship's electrical plant. Consequently, the Normandy was, therefore, on low power, which means she had a range on her radar of less than 150 miles.
In her 1998 paper, Scarry states, The Normandy, is suspected of being a "Smart Ship - a seagoing laboratory for testing new electronic equipment and carrying out unpublished experiments."
Scarry notes, "The international placement of a ship in a condition of low electricity is called a BECKY exercise, the acronym standing for Basic Engineering Casualty and Control."
When a BECKY exercise "is carried out in conjunction with a high-level military exercise, its purpose is to test whether the ship can survive even if its own radars are jammed or if it has suddenly lost electrical power. Its ability to get critical information from other craft and to carry out self-protective actions on the basis of that information is often what is being tested."
Owens obtained inside information from John Ganz, a former high-level environmental engineer at the Harry Diamond Laboratory in Woodbridge, Virginia, where the government has tested several generations of electromagnetic pulse systems since 1971.
According to one of the documents provided by Ganz, a Navy report on EMPRESS II (a second generation EMP simulator), "There are limitations and problems in all simulators. Therefore, some energy is wasted and can interfere with other electronic systems."
Data provided by numerous tests with EMPs are "inconclusive," according to the Navy, but in order to protect the electrical system of the AEGIS ships, normal electronics are reduced to a low-power threshold while the EMPRESS (electromagnetic pulse system) is in operation.
Scarry unsuccessfully called for the feds to include the USS Normandy in this investigation. "[W]e lack concrete information about the ranges of electromagnetic transmissions on board the Normandy."
The AEGIS Guided Missile Cruiser "is a gigantic exhibition hall of electromagnetic equipment," said Scarry, adding, "an AEGIS cruiser near Rome can protect almost all of Europe from missiles ascending from a point in North Africa. The billion-dollar ship has, as impressed observers often noted, antennas the size of three billboards rising above deck and antennas trailing along behind, sonar mounted on its bow and sonar towed behind."
Scarry also notes the next generation AEGIS ship, the DG-51 Arleigh Burke was equipped with a Combat Information Center placed well below the waterline where all electronics are more protected against electromagnetic pulse systems.
Additional information supporting the FOS theory comes from Owens, who offers military documents that suggest the Navy had been testing this technology on commercial planes since the late eighties under numerous code or project names, including REPS I&II, VEMPS I&II, FRED I&II, AESOP and EMPRESS I&II.
Scarry also notes that a seven-month-long Air Force study, overseen by Colonel Charles Quisenberry, concluded in 1988, the use of electromagnetic waves by the military have caused "thousands of conflicts."
Electromagnetic interference, according to Scarry, "can jam equipment, burn out electric circuits and even prompt explosions."
Also, a 1994 NASA study noted, "the cause of High Intensity Radiated Field [HIRF] events may often be inadvertent effects on civilian aircraft of high-powered military operations." The study, writes Scarry, "specifies that military jammers and electronic countermeasures equipment can affect key systems on commercial planes."
According to documents provided by Owens, The Ridgewood Research Laboratory in Virginia, where much of the testing on the East Coast has been conducted, is less than 15 nautical miles from the Ronald Reagan National Airport, Andrews Air Force Base and Dulles International Airport. "The commercial airway passes within 10 nautical miles of the site, as do several arrivals" and approach airways.
In an environmental impact statement, The U.S. Army Laboratory Command (LABCOM) states, "A potential impact is identified for aircraft exposed to high EMP fields which may be hazardous to aircraft."
In her paper, Scarry said the final comment by the pilot of FL800 is indicative of what would happen if the plane were bombarded with an EMP beam: "sudden interruption in fuel flow and false instruction to the control surfaces on the wing flaps or rudder."
A minute and 50 seconds before all electricity faltered on FL800, the captain stated, "Look at that crazy fuel flow indicator there on number four." Then 10 seconds later he "expresses the sense that the wing flaps are not in the right position" and works to adjust the flaps.
Less than a minute before the cockpit was severed from the plane, said Scarry, the Boston Control Center urgently instructed the pilot to climb from 13,000 feet to 15,000 feet.
FL800 was apparently flying too low through "Corridor Betty," a route assigned to commercial airlines going along Long Island's south shore toward Boston and Halifax, Nova Scotia, to prevent them from flying through the Navy's weapons testing areas when maneuvers are being conducted.
The pilot gave the order to climb and the first officer repeated it, but seconds later the pilot commanded the second officer to engage the plane's "climb thrusters," as if the order had not been obeyed. The second officer quickly replied, "Power's set." Moments later, witnesses watched as the plane exploded into a ball of fire.
Owens, an amateur archeologist, said that in 1993 while he was out in the woods on a "dig" he witnessed the destruction of a $6 million Black Hawk UH-60 helicopter about four miles from Quantico. The Black Hawk had been used four weeks before to transport President Bill Clinton, but was transporting four Bosnian officials when it was downed by an electromagnetic pulse beam, said Owens.
As the first person to reach the downed Black Hawk, Owens said, he found the helicopter's crew of four marines and its passengers scattered around the crash site with third-degree burn lesions, bubbled body fluids and bulging eye balls.
"They were burned from the inside out," said Owens. "There were no smoke or burn marks on their clothing, but their bodies were clearly burned."
Owens added that the debris was not cleaned up right away and he salvaged about 70 pieces of the Black Hawk before it was eventually bulldozed into a ditch and buried.
Military officials denied any knowledge of electromagnetic involvement and blamed the Quantico crash on a mechanical problem involving a roll-pin which Owens says is the size of a pencil.
In a 1987 front page story in the Baltimore Sun, Knight-Ridder News Service reported that throughout the eighties, there were more than 48 servicemen who died in a total of five Black Hawk accidents that are suspected to have been caused by electromagnetic interference, according to Army Major Jerry McVey (retired), who led those crash investigations. Two of those accidents were unexplained and three were listed as mechanical problems that caused the craft to nose-dive into the ground.
Despite the magnitude of debate surrounding EMP, and the controversy surrounding the government's FL800 investigation, Congressman John McCain of Arizona, chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, closed down the investigation.
McCain recently sent a letter to Fidis claiming, "This is an extremely difficult and complex matter. There will continue to be differing and potentially contradictory observations and analytical opinions. However, I do believe that federal investigators acted thoroughly and without negligence in their findings."
McCain said, "the Commerce Committee does not have any plans to hold additional hearings at this time."
Suffolk Life Newspapers will continue its investigation and will report its findings as often as possible.
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