Portions of a missile used to shoot down TWA Flight 800 have been recovered by the FBI, but have been secreted away according to one military investigator.
Retired Navy Cmdr. William S. Donaldson III is an aviation mishap analyst and former naval crash investigator with extensive experience. He has been investigating the crash for over two years with other concerned, retired aviation professionals. The organization, Associated Retired Aviation Professionals, has obtained evidence from official government investigators who are unhappy with what they see as a cover-up.
The FBI, the National Transportation Safety Board, and the military knew from the beginning that the evidence and eyewitness reports pointed to a scenario that the commercial flight with 230 people on board was brought down by a missile, the independent investigators say. Cmdr. Donaldson claims they secretly searched for and found actual remains of the missile itself.
“What happened was it blew virtually all the top skin off that wing. That’s a phenomenon that’s never seen and cannot happen without the presence of a high-explosive weapon,” he said of the initial evidence.
The Associated Retired Aviation Professionals interviewed more than 100 witness who were also interviewed by the FBI. Those witnesses all described seeing a missile go up from the water and hit TWA Flight 800 on July 17, 1996. The FBI discredited those witnesses.
“The bottom line is the witnesses saw it, the forensic evidence backs it up, now here comes the kicker. The FBI knew what it was because they were the first with the information — with the witnesses and everything else. Apparently the missile team was pushing to go out there and look for the key parts that would be on the bottom from that missile,” explained Donaldson to WorldNetDaily.
If a missile was fired at the commercial airline it would leave some physical evidence. This would include portions of the missile body, and part of the initial launch system of the missile.
“Whatever’s left after it hits the aircraft and probably goes through it would land, considering where witnesses saw the missile go up, the missile body would land to the northwest of where the missile body exploded. That’s a key point to remember,” explained Donaldson.
The type of missile most likely used to hit the plane is known as MANPADS, for “man portable air defense system.” Such missiles include the U.S.-made Stinger, which is available to terrorist groups. Other similar missiles could also have been used, according to Donaldson.
When such a missile is launched, it has a first stage which falls back to earth within 100 feet of launch. The portion which falls back, and would have landed in the ocean, is the ejector can. That item would be located on the ocean floor near the site where the launch took place, most likely on a small boat.
The FBI began a detailed, thorough search of the bottom Nov. 4, 1996. It hired four trawlers and stationed two FBI agents on each 24 hours a day until the search ended suddenly April 30, 1997.
“So the FBI was looking for that first stage,” said Donaldson. “They put together a manual, which I now have, that they sent with the agents out to these scallop trawlers that they hired.”
“The cover story was they were hired to clean the bottom for little parts, and also one story the British bought that they were looking for the last of the human remains,” explained Donaldson. “Both stories were essentially just cover stories. The real purpose of the $5.5 million effort was to find these missile parts.”
The captains of those four trawlers were given written descriptions of several high-interest items the FBI was looking for, without telling them what those items were. The FBI accidentally left behind the documents detailing what they were looking for when they completed the search. Those documents were obtained by the Associated Retired Aviation Professionals in the course of its investigation and have been made available to WorldNetDaily (see related documents, below).
“The ops (operations) orders were to the FBI agents that rode those boats, and there were always two agents that rode each boat. They were checking every load that comes in and tagging and bagging anything that wasn’t organic. The rule was any of the three high-interest items you were to be discreet to keep the crew from recognizing that it’s found, and to use a secure cell phone to report immediately back to headquarters. It specifically said, to avoid other interested parties from finding out that these things were found. I got it in black and white,” explained Donaldson when he provided copies of the documents.
WorldNetDaily also received copies of the trawler maps 1which show that the main area of search by the trawlers was outside the known area of the TWA Flight 800 debris field. An area which is in the direction a missile would travel according to Donaldson. The search area corresponds to the range of a MANPAD missile.
“This trawling area is huge, and only a very small pie-shaped area in that huge circle actually had debris (from the aircraft) in it. There’s no aircraft debris to the north of the track. But to the northwest, which would be the ballistic curve from where the eyewitnesses saw the missile come up, was trawled heavily. Just as much as the actual debris area was,” explained Donaldson.
The ejector can had already been found before the FBI began a search for it. A trawler that participated in the search for debris found it very close to the area predicted as the launch site.
“The guy on deck pulled in a load about two miles from where Flight 800 exploded. The can was in the net. He looked at it and he couldn’t figure out what it was. He thought it was a fuel filter or something. He picked it up, looked at it, sees two wires coming out of it, which are the ignition wires. He handled it for a while and then he threw it over board,” described Donaldson of his investigative interview with the worker on board the trawler.
“When the FBI agents came aboard this same ship, just by happenstance, they hired them to do part of the trawling. When he (the worker) saw the pictures of what these guys were looking for he said, ‘You’re too late. I’ve already found one.’ That trawler’s where I got all the maps and the manual. These guys left all this crap on board, so I got it,” he explained.
The captains of the four trawlers were surprised when it was suddenly terminated. They expected to continue searching for many months because they had not completed a search of the area shown in the maps. The FBI agents were under orders not to disclose when they found items.
Donaldson firmly believes a shoulder-fired, MANPAD missile is responsible for the downing of TWA Flight 800. He believes President Clinton most likely knew about the threat and did nothing about it.
He says the White House received a threat and knew of an attempt to down a commercial flight in the same area just a few weeks prior to Flight 800. The Federal Aviation Administration could have ordered flight controllers to randomly change the flight path of each flight to thwart efforts to target aircraft, according to Cmdr. Donaldson. That precaution was taken for flights from Atlanta during the Olympics where the military anticipated a threat to commercial aircraft.
“Before Flight 800 was shot down they were very concerned, they actually sent military people to work with the FAA and look at the approaches around Atlanta to see if they could change them randomly to make it more difficult for a shoulder fired missile operator to necessarily be in range,” said Donaldson. “They looked at the approaches, and they may have manipulated some of them a little bit, but they essentially had full knowledge, or at least a suspicion that with missiles in country that that would be a likely target.
“The president made a call down there to the FBI command post and told them that 800 had been shot down. I think the quote I got from the guy was, ‘We are at least 80 percent certain that Flight 800 was shot down by a shoulder-fired missile.’ The implication is, be alert. You’re next,” described Donaldson.
He believes the cover-up will continue. The goal of Associated Retired Aviation Professionals is to bring about indictments of those responsible for covering up the truth of the downing of Flight 800 and exposing the reasons behind it. Their investigation is still under way.
“We’ve been dealing with him for a couple years. We just think he’s wrong. He’s off base,” said NTSB spokesman Paul Schlamm of Cmdr. Donaldson. The FBI and FAA have not responded messages left by WorldNetDaily.TWA spokesman Jim Brown said, “There is nothing to exonerate us forbecause there’s nothing we’ve been accused of.”