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SKEPTOID BLOG:

Flight 800: I'm Just Asking Questions

by Mike Rothschild

July 1, 2013

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Donate In my reading and writing about conspiracy theories, I've noticed that believers often dream up fantastical plots and cover-ups to explain much less complicated incidents or accidents, but neglect to answer some of the simple questions that arise from their theories. A true investigation asks questions, then attempts to answer these questions using the most accurate methods available. A conspiracy theory, however, simply throws out abstract concepts such as "the government did it" without attempting to answer the many questions that would be needed to prove these ideas are correct.

A perfect example of this is the conspiracy theory behind the crash of TWA Flight 800. A newly-released documentary, TWA Flight 800, makes the case that the official investigation of why the plane exploded in mid-air was fraudulent, and the plane was brought down by something else, most likely a missile fired by or on behalf of US interests. Those who believe in this conspiracy have used eyewitness testimony, unanswered questions and speculation to create an alternate theory that revolves around an unknown assailant shooting the plane down with a missile, either accidentally or purposefully, and a massive conspiracy to hide it from the public.

If you believe the findings of the investigation carried out by the National Transportation Safety Board, then the matter is settled, and Flight 800 was the victim of a center wing fuel tank explosion that occurred for unknown reasons. The overwhelming mass of evidence corroborates this — evidence obtained through extensive testing, exhaustive research and relentless questioning.

So in the interest of those who are "just asking questions" about what really happened to Flight 800, I'd like to pose a few to the conspiracy theorists. Some are simple, others more complex. Some might have easy answers, some might be unanswerable. And while they might seem pedantic, I'm intrigued to hear more about the new evidence that has been uncovered, and why it was covered up in the first place. Surely, those who believe the conspiracy have asked themselves these questions, in the same way that the investigators from the NTSB asked themselves questions, and worked hard to answer them.

(Please note that for the purposes of this post, I've discounted the idea of a bomb on board the aircraft being the cause of the explosion. While some conspiracy theorists do believe this, the majority do not, and hang their proverbial hats on the eyewitness testimony that claims a missile hit and destroyed the plane.)

If Flight 800 was the victim of a missile strike, either on purpose or by mistake:
  • Who fired the missile?

  • What kind of missile was it?

  • Who ordered the firing?

  • Was it fired accidentally or on purpose?

  • Was it fired from land, sea or air?

  • If land, what facility? If sea, what ship? If air, what type of plane?

  • The "official story" indicates that only one ship was close enough to shoot down Flight 800, the Coast Guard cutter Adak. However, this small ship carries no surface-to-air missiles. Did Adak shoot down Flight 800?

  • If so, how was Adak modified to carry such a missile?

  • Likewise, the "official story" claims that the only aircraft in the area were a P-3 Orion, an HC-130P air-sea rescue support plane and an HH-60G rescue helicopter. None of these aircraft are capable of carrying air-to-air missiles. Were any of these aircraft the shooter?

  • If so, how were they modified to carry a weapon they don't have the capability to carry?

  • If Flight 800 had been shot down by a missile fired from sea or air that wasn't fired from one of these assets, then the shooter, be it ship or plane, would have to either have been removed from every record of every radar-capable installation in range or be invisible to radar. Who altered the records of the Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard?

  • How was it done?

  • If the records weren't altered, than whatever fired the missile must have been invisible to radar. A stealth fighter or bomber that fires a missile immediately becomes visible on radar, so that would entail the same record alteration. Does technology exist that allows a plane or ship to fire a missile without appearing on radar?

  • Who developed this advanced technology?

  • Are other countries using it?

  • The closest known US Navy vessel that did have the capability to shoot down Flight 800 was the cruiser Normandy, located 185 miles south of where Flight 800 exploded. While her radar could have spotted the plane, the maximum range of the SM-2MR missiles she was carrying was 90 miles. Did Normandy shoot Flight 800 down?

  • If so, did the US Navy have classified surface-to-air missiles that exceeded the range of Normandy's standard armament?

  • If Normandy did fire such a missile, who altered her records to remove this from her official history?

  • Wouldn't a missile fired from a US ship, no matter the range, require hundreds of sailors to have knowledge of what was done?

  • If so, why have none succumbed to a guilty conscience and spoken publicly?

  • Were they all murdered to ensure their silence?

  • Has the pilot of a plane that fired an air-to-air missile spoken about it?

  • Was that pilot murdered to ensure his silence?

  • If the missile was fired from a land-based launcher, where was it located?

  • Have any soldiers stationed at a land-based facility reported firing a missile at a passenger plane?

  • Were they all murdered to keep their silence?

  • Regardless of who fired the missile, did any military unit report a missile removed from its inventories?

  • If Flight 800 was shot down on accident, how did it happen?

  • What errors in the chain-of-command enabled the incident to take place?

  • Was there an investigation of the accidental shoot-down done?

  • If so, why do we know nothing about it?

  • Are there records of a ship's captain or a pilot being disciplined for this action?

  • Are there records of a ship having its captain removed around the time of the crash?

  • When the USS Vincennes accidentally shot down Iran Air Flight 655 in 1988, thinking it was an enemy fighter jet, the incident instantly became public knowledge, and a full inquiry was held, with those results also being public knowledge. Why would this not have been done for Flight 800?

  • What is the purpose of covering up such an incident?

  • Who authorized the cover-up?

  • Some conspiracy theorists believe that the missile fired at Flight 800 was launched from a shoulder-fired weapon situated on a small boat. However, Flight 800 was at nearly 14,000 feet when it exploded, beyond the maximum range of all man-portable missiles available at the time. Did a classified weapon exist that could be fired by a single person and shoot down the plane?

  • If not, then what type of launcher was used?

  • How was the plane tracked and fired on at just the right time?

  • Was the shooter a terrorist?

  • If so, what organization did they belong to?

  • Why did no terrorist organization take credit for the shoot-down?

  • If the shooter wasn't a terrorist, who did he work for?

  • What happened to the shooter, the boat and the launcher afterwards?

  • Was Flight 800 shot down on purpose?

  • Was it shot down by the United States, or another country?

  • If so, why? What would have been the purpose of shooting down Flight 800?

  • Who gained from it and how?

  • Who hatched the initial plan?

  • Who approved it?

  • How far up the chain-of-command did the plan go?

  • What organizations were involved?

  • Did President Clinton know about the plan?

  • How was the NTSB report faked? Hundreds of people, including eyewitnesses who claimed they saw a missile strike, were involved in putting the report together. Did they all have knowledge of the conspiracy?

  • If so, how was their silence kept?

  • Why does no physical evidence exist of a missile strike?

  • Was it found during the investigation and hidden?

I understand that these aren't simple questions, and require enormous amounts of time and money to solve. But they're vital to understanding what really happened and why. I eagerly await hearing the answers that researchers outside the purview of the conspiracy have found.

by Mike Rothschild

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