Part One of this examination of the recent Discovery Channel special about Flight 800 pointed out specific flaws in the program’s fuel-tank explosion experiment. That first column also gave a brief overview of the government’s “dog story” regarding the explosive compounds RDX and PETN, which were found in various structural areas of the airliner’s midsection. This writer asserts that the TV special, “Best Evidence,” was poorly named. That point is truly sad, considering the episode presented more evidence than most other broadcasts on the topic of TWA Flight 800’s mysterious crash into the Atlantic Ocean in July of 1996.

Among the many things missing from the TV presentation was any significant mention of the dedicated volunteer researchers that have kept this investigation alive in the face of an obvious government cover-up. The program did put up an on-screen caption that Dr. Thomas Stalcup is the chairman of the Flight 800 Independent Researchers Organization. But, there was never any mention of what FIRO is, nor of its achievements. That organization, of which this writer was a member for several years, is one of two volunteer civilian groups that have done significant research into the Flight 800 disaster. The other is the Association of Retired Aviation Professionals, founded by the late Lt. Cmdr. William Donaldson, U.S. Navy, retired – known to us researchers as “The Truth Warrior.” Although FBI supervisor James Kallstrom and the “mainstream” news media labeled independent researchers as “kooks,” that is far from the truth. The ranks of FIRO and ARAP include retired military and commercial crash investigators, pilots, engineers of various disciplines (including at least one radar engineer) and at least one physicist. (I have often quipped about being the “least qualified” member of FIRO.)

Among the evidence missing from “Best Evidence” was any mention of the lawsuit by Capt. Ray Lahr against multiple federal agencies. (He recently won a major victory in that legal battle.) Capt. Lahr – a former Navy fighter pilot and later a crash investigator for United Airlines – has done major-league calculations regarding the shift in the airliner’s center of gravity, etc., to disprove the government’s “zoom climb” scenario. That scenario was an attempt to minimize the statements of eyewitnesses regarding missile sightings.

Also missing from the TV episode was any mention of Graeme Sephton (FIRO’s radar engineer) and his legal battle to get the FBI to release its report regarding the shrapnel found in the bodies of Flight 800 victims. “Best Evidence” interviewed Dr. Charles Wetli, the Suffolk County, N.Y., medical examiner, but there was no mention of the reports that the shrapnel found in the victim’s bodies was consistent with oxidizer pellets from a missile warhead.

The omission of these major items is not an example of the “best” evidence.

During the TV episode, the CIA animation of the “zoom climb” was shown several times. Although the program mentioned that over 150 eyewitnesses disputed the government’s conclusion, the program only interviewed one of those witnesses. The program also failed to mention investigative author James Sanders, much less the “red residue” (from rocket fuel, found in the passenger cabin of Flight 800) that got him convicted in federal court. Likewise, no mention of investigative author Jack Cashill, who has uncovered massive quantities of political evidence of a government cover-up. Trying to tell the story of Flight 800 without mentioning the names Sephton, Lahr, Sanders and Cashill is like trying to tell the story of fried chicken without mentioning S. Truett Cathy and “Colonel” Harlan Sanders.

Overlooking the basics

Given the government’s insistence that a “random spark” ignited the center fuel tank and that only 50 gallons of fuel cracked the airliner cleanly in half, did the Discovery Channel make any inquiry as to what would make a low-order explosive become so powerful? Nope. For example, the presence of additional oxygen would certainly enhance the power of a jet-fuel explosion – and the 747-100 is equipped with a total of 24 oxygen bottles. (Hint: they’re not small, like the ones in an ambulance.) And, as the below diagram shows, 12 of those oxygen bottles are in close proximity to the center fuel tank. In fact, four of the bottles are mounted adjacent to the fuel tank.



Boeing diagram of 747-100. (Oxygen bottles both fore and aft of center fuel tank.) Source: Boeing online aircraft manual.

So, how many of those oxygen bottles were destroyed by the explosion? Not one! According to the NTSB’s own inventory of recovered wreckage (see Page 26), all 24 oxygen bottles were recovered intact. Now, if the fuel in the tank was powerful enough to crack the airliner in half, and if explosive force radiates in a sphere, then wouldn’t the oxygen bottles have been among the first things to be destroyed? But, if the explosion originated outside the aircraft, and if it was a high-order explosion, then couldn’t it have cut cleanly through the fuselage without touching the oxygen bottles? Apparently, that’s what happened. (For more of this type of analysis, see my upcoming book, “Flight 800: the Rosetta Jackscrew.”)

Parallel example

In the summer of 2004, this writer investigated a vehicle bombing at a Nashville hotel. Using military training and experience, I found the bracket that held the bomb. The remarkable part is that the discovery occurred two days after the crime scene had been released. Teams of police officers, firefighters, bomb squad members and federal agents had missed that key piece of evidence. (Reminder: Even experts are human.)

While the crime scene was still active, reporters were not allowed near the vehicle. But, even from a distance, this writer observed – and a BATF agent confirmed – that the vehicle’s frame had been clean-cut by a high-order explosive. Yet, certain items near the site of the blast were still intact. Why? Because of the difference between high-order and low-order explosives. The clean cut of Flight 800’s fuselage was the result of a high-order explosive. That rules out jet fuel.

Kallstrom contradictions

In the “Best Evidence” episode, FBI lead investigator James Kallstrom says that his first instinct was to investigate the crash as the result of terrorism. Why? “Because 747s don’t explode into massive fireballs.” Yet, that is exactly what he now wants the public to believe.

Kallstrom also told the Discovery Channel, “We ruled out intervention by any device – like a missile, or a bomb, or a carry-on bomb, or anything like that – because we could find no evidence of it.” But, the FBI refuses to release any further documents about Flight 800. Why? Because they claim it is still an “ongoing criminal investigation.” Well, if they ruled out an explosive, then why is it still a criminal investigation?

Perhaps the government is still searching for the “best” evidence. If so, they shouldn’t bother looking at the Discovery Channel.



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Tom Kovach lives near Nashville, is a former USAF Blue Beret, and has written for several online publications. He recently published his first book. Kovach is also an inventor, a horse wrangler, a certified paralegal and a former talk-radio host. To learn more, visit: www.TomKovach.us.

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