TWA Flight 800: Introduction & Overview -

Friendly Fire, Salinger Style * More on "Missle" / "Metor" Theory * The Fuel Tank
Internet "Proof" of Friendly Fire * The FBI * Our Conclusion * Visitor Thoughts
Update: New TWA Flight 800 Documentary

On the night of July 17, 1996 TWA Flight 800 exploded and crashed off the coast of Long Island, killing everyone on board. For months, investigators focused on three possible causes--- a bomb, mechanical failure, or a terrorist missile. While the NTSB eventually concluded that the jet had exploded due to mechanical failure, as far as many people are concerned, what truly happened remains a mystery.

According to most authorities, TWA Flight 800 crashed, because its nearly empty center fuel tank exploded.

The center tank lies at the heart of the 747's structure, embedded among the spars that support its wings and resting atop the keel beam that runs along its belly. When Flight 800's center tank exploded, it broke two of the wings' three spars and led to the fracture of the keel beam. After that, the forward fuselage failed and was ripped from the aircraft, which then disintegrated, plunging into the Atlantic Ocean off Long Island, N.Y. All 230 on board were killed.

Some of the theories on why the tank exploded include:

1. Static electricity: Sloshing or leaking fuel builds up a static charge, causing a deadly spark. NTSB's pick.

2. Fuel-probe residue: Mineral deposits on a fuel-level monitor reach dangerous temperatures, igniting the fuel.

3. "Shaped charge": A large bomb has been ruled out, but small explosives planted on the center fuel tank could have caused the blast.

4. Chafing wires: FAA's favorite. Rubbing wires near wing tank start a fire that blows back through vapor vent system to the center tank.

5. Meteors: "Space junk," possibly small meteors or missile fragments, hits the jet. The least likely cause.

6. Scavenge pump: A pump that bails fuel residue from the center tank overheats, touching off hot vapors.


1. Friendly fire: TWA flight 800 was supposedly flying through the airspace near to where the Navy was firing ground (ship) based missiles at drone craft. The missile hit TWA by accident, resulting in an elaborate conspiracy/cover-up by the Navy, F.B.I., etc. Pierre Salinger backed this theory, getting in mucho trouble/controversy as a result.

2. Terrorists (American or foreign) fired a ground based missile at flight 800, blowing it up.

More than thirty witnesses claim to have seen an object rising up toward and colliding with Flight 800, prior to the 747's explosion, the kind of visual a friendly fire or terrorist missile launch might have created.

The F.B.I., the Navy, the NTSB, and others, have vigorously denied the terrorist missile or "friendly fire" theories. Many American, including relatives of those killed in the Flight 800 explosion, support these theories.


National Transportation Safety Board lead investigator Bernard Loeb has an additional POSSIBLE theory. A small crack in the center fuel tank may have caused leaking fuel particles to form a cloud, which then discharged a deadly electric spark. He's been unable to prove this theory, so far.

Data Sources include The New York Times Magazine (November 12, 1996), Aviation Week & Space Technology (July 29, 1996), Newsweek (November 25, 1996, July 21, 1997), Aviation Week & Space Technology (March 10, 1997, May 12, 1997, June 2, 1997).