TWA Flight 800 Conspiracy Theories

TWA Flight 800 Conspiracy Theories: The dubious explosion of Flight 800

Flight 800 Conspiracy Theory

Trans World Airlines Flight 800 (TWA 800) was a flight schedule that crashed on July 1996. On board, the Boeing 747 bound from JFK airport to Paris were 230 people. The plane was South of Long Island in New York when it crashed, at a lower altitude than normal to make room for another Jet flying close by. When it was given the signal to gain altitude the flight suddenly exploded. The airplane was completely destroyed and there were no survivors.

Flight 800 Testimonies

TWA Flight 800 Conspiracy

The conspiracy theory that originated from the destruction of flight 800 centers around a flare that hit the aircraft. Multiple testimonies from eyewitnesses in the days after the explosion of Flight 800 indicate that they say a bright orange light was coming from the water skywards towards the plane. 183 people were reported to have seen the streak of light heading towards Flight 800. Of the 102 who gave information 96 said it originated from the surface. The direction of travel was reported by the eyewitnesses to be not only vertical but also horizontal towards Flight 800. Practically all testimonies agree that it was a bright, flare-like object ascending, and not descending.

“I know what I saw. I saw an ordnance explosion. And whatever I saw, the explosion of the fuel was not the initiator of the event. It was one of the results. Something happened before that which was the initiator of the disaster.”
-Frederick Meyer, Air National Guard helicopter pilot and witness of the Flight 800 event 29/7/97; Riverside Press.

All testimonies from these eyewitnesses were given to the FBI. The official verdict from the FBI was that the eye witness testimonies summing up to 183 people could not possibly be correct. Therefore the testimonies of the eyewitnesses were disregarded. They were not allowed to speak at the public National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) investigation into the explosion after FBI Director James Sanders said they could not be relied upon. The conclusion of the NTSB is at odds with 94% of eyewitness testimonies, concluding that the streaking light seen by the eyewitnesses was the plane itself. The NTSB never found out the cause of the explosion. They did arrive at the conclusion that fuel vapors in the tank ignited causing the initial explosion, but never found the cause.

“More than 150 credible witnesses – including several scientists and business executives – have told the FBI and military experts they saw a missile destroy TWA 800. ‘Some of these people are extremely, extremely credible,’ a top federal official said. ‘When we asked what they saw and where they saw it, the witnesses out east pointed to the west, and the people to the west pointed to the east’.”
The New York Post, September 22, 1996.

Missile Explosion

One of the more prominent, popular and evidenced theories about Flight 800 was that it was downed by a missile and subsequently covered up by officials. Three separate samples were taken from the wreckage of Flight 800. Testing on each of these three samples are consistent with the presence of explosive residues, from the combustion byproducts of a military solid fuel rocket motor. The NTSB did not uncover the source of the explosive residues that were found. Thus is was unable to conclude any wrong doing. Note that this is not indicative of any type of foul or suspicious play on behalf of the NTSB. If no conclusive link can be found, then no conclusions can be drawn.

James Sanders, Author, The Downing of TWA Flight 800
James Sanders, Author, The Downing of TWA Flight 800

Much of the information relating to a possible government cover-up was brought to public attention by journalist James Sanders and his wife, a TWA flight attendant. Sanders published a book in 1997 titled The Downing of TWA Flight 800 proposing that the flight had been brought down by a missile with an ensuing government cover-up. Sanders and his wife Elizabeth were prosecuted by the Federal government for theft of government property after they took evidence from the crash site, along with documents, to expose a potential cover up. Both were convicted. Sanders authored the second book in 1999, Altered Evidence.

Flight 800 and the Navy

There are other factors cited as odd by the Flight 800 theorists. The immediate introduction of the Navy who replaced the divers of the New York Police Department, who had jurisdiction over the area. They swept up to twenty miles either side of the aircraft, though it was not possible for the flight to make it anywhere near this far given it’s altitude, even if left intact. The Navy stated that the sweep was necessary in order to locate the black box/aircraft flight recorders, which could not be found. Numerous vessel owners said that they got pinged by the box on their radar dishes. When the black box of Flight 800 was found it was directly at the crash site. It has also been claimed that the Navy lied about the presence of submarines, initially stating there were none present only to retract these statements and later admit to 3 under water vessels. If a military training exercise actually did go wrong, this is most likely how official sources would react. They are not going to publicly apologize for blowing up a commercial airline

Flight 800 and the CIA stimulation

Many theorists have speculated that the simulation used by the CIA was fake. Retired United Airlines Pilot Ray Lahr was a prominent critic of the zoom climb and it’s calculations, used to produce the simulation. He filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to gain access to this data. He publicly stated that he could prove that the zoom climb never happened if he got access to the data. The court granted his request under the FOIA to gather the necessary documents from the CIA and associated agencies. He was never given the documents as the agencies claimed all documentation had been lost.

Other Theories

One theory contends that a Bolide, which is a large meteor, exploded as it hit the Earths’ atmosphere. One of the fragments of the Bolide then intersected Flight 800. It does cover a lot of unresolved data points. However this is a trend seen in all theories, conspiracy or not, that invent something that would satisfy the unresolved elements, with no way of actually proving that it led to those elements. In any case it has been criticized due to the improbability of one of the fragments intersecting the flight’s path.

Another theory relating to Flight 800 is that High Intensity Radiated Fields produced by military aircraft was the cause of the explosion. This was also deemed unlikely.

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) also took part in the study conducted by the NTSB. They commended the NTSB for their focus and commitment but proposed that the NTSB should have focused more on the lower left side of the plane. They strongly criticised the handling of the investigation by the FBI, stating that the TAG database used to analyze the accuracy of testimonies from the witnesses was grossly inaccurate and that they acted outside of their jurisdiction when they removed evidence from the hangar without going through the proper procedures.

William Donaldson, retired Naval officer
William Donaldson, retired Naval officer

William Donaldson, a retired Naval officer, produced the “Donaldson Report” two years before the conclusions of the NTSB were published. The report purported that two missiles fired from the water collided with Flight 800. It also made the point that never in the history of aviation (at that time) had a mechanical failure led to the ignition of kerosene in a fuel tank. Whereas Sanders believed in the possibility of an accidental launch by the Navy, the Donaldson report deemed a terrorist attack more likely. Both theories agree on a government cover-up.

Flight 800 Conclusion

Definitely one of the more conclusive conspiracy theories, there were numerous eyewitness accounts which were simply disregarded, no reasonable explanation as to why an aircraft would simply explode and discrepancies from official sources. While no definite conclusions can be drawn there was definitely something curious about how Flight 800 came to its end.


Here are some useful documentaries and recreations you will find useful to watch about TWA Flight 800. Although there may be other documentaries or recreations about the incident, we try to include the most important ones here.

TWA Flight 800 Conspiracy

TWA Flight 800 Remastered Re-creation

There has been an ongoing trend of recreating the incident as a documentary, especially with the air-crash conspiracies.

Feature Documentary – Silenced: Flight 800 And The Subversion Of Justice

The title says it all…

Conspiracy 1/11 – TWA Flight 800