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Probable cause announced at Worcester Polytechnic Institute on October 8, 2003

TWA Flight 800 Probable Cause Announced

Flight 800 Independent Researchers Organization (FIRO) announced their probable cause determination for the 1996 crash of TWA Flight 800 during a talk at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) on October 8th, 2003. The talk, entitled "TWA Flight 800 and Official Obfuscation" and sponsored by the student group "Power of One," contained graphics and animations that called into question several key findings in the government's official crash report.

TWA Flight 800 exploded and crashed off the coast of Long Island, NY in the summer of 1996. Although dozens of eyewitnesses were sure they saw a missile, federal investigators took four years to release an ultimately inconclusive final report.

FIRO has documented evidence the government concealed, omitted, and misrepresented during the investigation. Much of this evidence was used by FIRO to buttress their findings, which purportedly account for more evidence than the government's theory of a spark inside a fuel tank.

FIRO sponsored the talk, which focused on the government's mishandling of key pieces of evidence that conflicted with a preconceived crash scenario. That evidence was then shown to support a theory for the crash that accounts for nearly all of the available evidence. The talk concluded with the release of FIRO's findings and their probable cause determination.


  • Radar data shows debris exiting the area of the aircraft at high speeds just as the jetliner lost electrical power, landing in an area where there is no debris is listed in the official NTSB debris field database. The Navy's debris field map however, lists debris being recovered at this location, more than 1/2 mile south of the flight path. The NTSB final report did not address this high-speed debris and Safety Board officials admit that their theory involving only an internal low-velocity explosion cannot account for it.
  • Explosive traces consistent with those used in bombs and missile warheads were found in the wreckage. The proposed explanation for the explosives (a spill during a bomb detection dog training exercise weeks before the crash) is disputed by the officer who conducted the exercise and the St. Louis Airport gate logs. The officer says and the gate logs indicate that he was on a different aircraft, while the aircraft that would become Flight 800 was being borded by 400 passengers bound for Honolulu.
  • Convincing statistical evidence from hundreds of eyewitnesses inidicates that a surface-to-air missile hit TWA Flight 800. Major Fred Meyer and Captain Chris Baur were two such eyewitnesses. They were airborne in an Air National Guard Black Hawk helicopter with a clear view of the sky. Both believe they saw a missile cause the crash. Major Meyer could recognize a missile as he flew overland rescues in Vietnam and saw missiles flying in hostile territory. Meyer and Baur flew to the crash site immediately and were first to arrive there. 182 others reported seeing a rising streak of light near TWA Flight 800 just before it exploded.
  • Based on radar data and the law of conservation of energy, TWA Flight 800 at no time during its crash sequence climbed as depicted in government animations. Government investigators proposed that Flight 800 climbed sharply like a missile, but they did not properly consider the FAA radar tracking of the aircraft which recorded so such climb.

Probable Cause

A surface-to-air missile, launched from the ocean off the coast of Long Island rose up and exploded at or near TWA Flight 800. The explosion of the near-empty center wing fuel tank was a secondary explosion, initiated by the explosion of a missile warhead. The combined destructive power of the missile and the fuel tank explosion caused catastrophic structural failure of TWA Flight 800.

Supporting Documentation

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) concluded that the probable cause for the crash of TWA Flight 800 in July 1996 was an explosion within the aircraft's center wing fuel tank. Neither the ignition source nor its location within the tank "could be determined from the available evidence."[1] Flight 800 Independent Researchers Organization (FIRO) reviewed the NTSB's findings and probable cause determination in detail and found several errors and omissions that required further review.

In July 2002, FIRO filed a petition with the NTSB requesting that these errors and omissions be corrected in a revised accident report.[2] The petition explained in detail that evidence which conflicted with the official probable cause for the crash, was not adequately investigated, or was withheld from certain investigative parties and the public. Nearly a year after receiving the petition, the NTSB responded by simply dismissing a majority of FIRO's assertions without even a cursory review.[3] For example, FIRO presented radar evidence of high velocity debris from multiple FAA radar sites that was never addressed in the NTSB final report. In its response to FIRO, the NTSB did not mention it.

FIRO believes that the probable cause for the crash of TWA Flight 800 was an explosion caused by an external ignition source. Radar data [4, 5], forensic analyses [6, 7], debris field evidence [4], secret government test results [8], and multiple eyewitness observations [9, 10] all suggest that the external ignition source was most likely a surface-to-air missile.

FIRO does not intend to ascribe theories as to why a missile may have been fired. Rather, the main goals of FIRO are to factually establish the most probable cause of the demise of TWA Flight 800, and to compel the proper investigative agencies to re-open the TWA Flight 800 investigation so that they can reconsider their own probable cause determination, which has been shown to be invalid.

Parties interested in assisting FIRO with its investigation or liaison contacts with the United States government should

About FIRO

Formed in April of 1999, FIRO is a group dedicated to uncovering and publicizing the facts surrounding the crash of TWA Flight 800. Its membership includes former airline crash investigators, scientists, engineers, and aviation professionals.


1. NTSB, AIRCRAFT ACCIDENT REPORT, In-flight Breakup Over the Atlantic Ocean, Trans World Airlines Flight 800, Boeing 747-131, N93119, Near East Moriches, New York, July 17, 1996. NTSB Public Docket, 2000.

2. FIRO Petition

3. NTSB Response to FIRO Petition

4. FIRO Petition: Section 4

5. FIRO Petition: Section 7

6. FIRO Petition: Section 2

7. FIRO Petition: Section 3

8. Flight 800's Secret Archive

9. FIRO Petition: Section 8

10. FIRO Petition: Section 10

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