A group of former NTSB investigators argue in an upcoming documentary that the crash, which occurred off the coast of Long Island in 1996 and killed 230 people, was not caused by a fuel tank explosion, as the agency said.
BY LARRY MCSHANE / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
PUBLISHED: WEDNESDAY, JUNE 19, 2013, 8:40 AM
UPDATED: WEDNESDAY, JUNE 19, 2013, 2:12 PM
Investigators from the first probe of doomed TWA Flight 800 called Wednesday for a new examination of the tragedy, resurrecting old claims that a missile downed the plane.
A half-dozen people involved in the original inquiry into the July 17, 1996, blast that killed 230 people on a Paris-bound flight out of JFK Airport claimed new evidence supports the oft-suggested missile theory.
"We're are not speculating in the least," insisted Tom Stalcup, co-founder of the Flight 800 Independent Researchers Organization.
"We are basing our conclusion on the facts," he said. "Based on the evidence, we can push [THE NTSB'S]conclusions aside. I think the whole world should listen."
The investigators - in a conference call promoting an upcoming documentary, "Flight 800" - charged the original probe ignored testimony from nearly 700 eyewitnesses and included evidence tampering.
New evidence suggests there were more than 100 traces of explosives found in the plane's wreckage, and internal CIA documents suggest a cover-up, they charge.
And they referenced FAA radar evidence that reportedly pointed to a missile hit - although they declined to speculate if it was a terrorist attack or friendly fire.
The group officially petitioned the National Transportation Safety Board to reconsider the results of its original, exhaustive four-year probe: The plane was brought down by an explosion in its center fuel tank, ignited by an electrical short circuit.
Stalcup, joined Wednesday by former NTSB investigator Hank Hughes and former TWA investigator Bob Young, said they had no doubt that a missile was responsible for the plane's demise.
"What they portrayed as the cause of the accident is not true," said Hughes. "I've conducted hundreds of investigations over a long period of time. If it smells like a rat, and looks like a rat, after a while you get the idea it's a rat."
The NTSB issued a statement responding to the reinvestigation request. Conspiracy theories surrounding the plane's demise began circulating within days of its crash off Long Island.
"While the NTSB rarely re-investigates issues that have already been examined, our investigations are never closed and we can review any new information," the federal agency said.
John Seaman, head of the Flight 800 Family Association, saw no point in revisiting the deadly wreck.
"They reopen wounds," Seaman said about the second-guessers. "Personally I can't keep going over it again and again. I think most families feel that way."
The head of the NTSB's original investigation, Robert Francis, declined comment on the petition.
The documentary premieres on the EPIX network on July 17, the disaster's 17th anniversary.