Email a Friend

  FREE Newsletter

  About FIRO

 The Evidence:
  Debris Field
  Black Box

 Further Research:
  In the News
  Crash Simulations
  Archived Articles
  Related Sites

  FREE Subcription

  Contact Washington
  Tell a Friend

Eyewitness Paul
Flight 800 eyewitness Paul Angelides (left) interviewed by FIRO Chairman Tom Stalcup on Fire Island, New York (9/00).

TWA Flight 800 Eyewitness Evidence

The FBI interviewed 670 eyewitnesses to the crash of TWA Flight 800. Witnesses who observed events early in the crash sequence described a rising streak of light culminating in an airborne explosion at Flight 800's altitude.

Nearly all of the witnesses observed the end of the crash sequence, which included the fiery descent of the jetliner into the Atlantic Ocean. A detailed compilation of eyewitness statistics from raw FBI interview documents and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reports can be found in FIRO's "Review of the Official TWA Flight 800 Witness Reports."

Skip to Eyewitness Quotes

The CIA Video

The first federal release of the eyewitness evidence came in a CIA-produced video. During the final FBI press conference on the crash in November of 1997, then lead FBI investigator James Kallstrom presented the CIA video, entitled "TWA Flight 800: What Did the Eyewitnesses See?" All the major television networks aired the animation live.

CIA Introduction
CIA Explosion Graphic
CIA video frames from a live CNN broadcast (11/18/97).
The CIA attributed a well-observed streak of light to Flight 800 itself. The streak was shown originating at Flight 800's altitude when it exploded: 13,800 feet or 2.6 miles. According to the CIA video, Flight 800 climbed sharply after exploding and "may have looked like a missile attacking an aircraft."

The video repeatedly dismissed the idea of the streak being a missile. Several graphics throughout the video contained the underlined and bolded words "Not A Missile," while the video's narrator emphasized the word Not.

The CIA's strongest language against the missile theory came at the video's conclusion, when the narrator stated that "nothing in [the eyewitness] statements leads CIA analysts to conclude that these eyewitnesses in fact saw a missile."



NTSB Witness Group Contradicts CIA Video

Just three weeks after the FBI released the CIA video, the NTSB was scheduled to release its own analysis of the eyewitness evidence at a weeklong public hearing in Baltimore, Maryland. The NTSB had compiled a statistical analysis of the eyewitness evidence in the Witness Group Factual Report: Exhibit 4A, which included the following findings:

"102 [eyewitnesses] gave information about the origin of the streak. Six said the streak originated from the air, and 96 said that it originated from the surface."

Discussion at the Baltimore hearings would have undoubtedly focused on the overwhelming percentage (94%) of witnesses who said the streak rose from the surface. The compelling statistics regarding the streak's origin could have undermined the CIA animation and directed public attention toward the missile theory.

For those paying attention to the investigation, the witness portion of the hearing was highly anticipated. And it was coming, save an eyewitness ban from the NTSB Chairman.

NTSB Chairman Jim Hall
Former NTSB Chairman Jim Hall.
Days before the hearing began and in response to a letter from then FBI Assistant Director James Kallstrom, NTSB Chairman Jim Hall banned all eyewitness presentations from the hearing. Kallstrom's letter contained objections to public eyewitness discussions, in part, because of the possibility "of undermining the CIA’s work." Ultimately, no eyewitness testified and no discussion of eyewitness evidence or the CIA animation was allowed at the hearing. (Kallstrom's letter to Chairman Hall is reproduced in this FIRO article).


Independent Researchers Disillusioned

The cancellation of witness discussions at the NTSB hearing shocked a tight-knit community of individuals independently researching the crash. Communicating via Internet newsgroups and email discussion lists, news of the cancellation reached the independent researchers quickly. Some researchers tried to persuade the media to discuss the witness evidence publicly, since federal investigators refused to.

Baltimore Hearing
Scene from NTSB Baltimore Hearing on TWA Flight 800.
But the major networks were silent. Their reporting of the NTSB hearing seemed as hollow as the hearing itself. And even though the CIA animation conflicted with their own televised witness interviews, they accepted it without question.

It slowly became apparent that the government and the mainstream media had decided against reviving public interest in the eyewitness reports. Throughout a four-year investigation, the NTSB interviewed fewer than two percent of the eyewitnesses and never discussed the accounts publicly until the very end, when Flight 800 was a distant memory to most Americans.

Some of the independent researchers joined together to form FIRO (Flight 800 Independent Researchers Organization), a group dedicated to assisting federal investigators determine the cause for the crash. Since its inception, FIRO has uncovered significant evidence that contradicts the official theory for the crash, some of which is included in a petition to the NTSB. As of 11/29/02, the NTSB is preparing a formal response to this petition.

FIRO has also interviewed dozens of eyewitnesses and published a thorough eyewitness study. Some early eyewitness interviews were conducted over the phone and asked the witnesses to comment on the CIA video.

When asked if what he saw was Flight 800 itself, witness Paul Runyan said, "Yeah right [with sarcasm], coming off the water...What I saw was going up from the surface like a rising flare." Eyewitness Darrel Miron said the CIA video was a "total fabrication."(12/97 phone interviews with FIRO Chairman Tom Stalcup).


Eyewitness Evidence Released

Eyewitness Locations
NTSB Witness Location Map.
In April of 2000, the NTSB released thousands of FBI documents representing interviews with 670 eyewitnesses. Many witness documents are missing and listed by the FBI as "unable to locate." And it is possible that interviews with hundreds of other witnesses have not yet been released. However, from the available witness documents, 21 eyewitnesses observed two distinct objects in the air.

Click here for eyewitness quotes.

FIRO's Main Page - Email this URL to a friend