In light of the recent disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight 370, Netflix recently added a documentary on the nearly 20-year-old TWA Flight 800 disaster. The documentary, called simply, “TWA Flight 800,” was originally aired on “Epix,” a cable channel featuring movies and documentaries, in 2013 with the main focus pertaining to unraveling the reason for the explosion of this plane and why, after so many years later, the families of those on board still do not have concrete answers to what exactly happened.
It was a hot summer evening on July 17, 1996. Around 730pm, the sun was setting, though still offering a lighted hue to the sky outside. TWA Flight 800 took off from John F. Kennedy International with 230 passengers headed for Paris. A mere 11 minutes after take-off, as the plane flew over Long Island, New York, there was an explosion that sent the plane into pieces, falling into the ocean. All 230 passengers were killed and now, almost 20 years later, there is still no definitive answer as to what caused the explosion to happen. The official report says that after four years of investigation, the National Transportation and Safety Board (“NTSB”) ruled it an accidental fuel tank explosion, though there is no direct cause named. Was there a bomb on board the aircraft? Was the plane shot down? If there was, who shot it down, and with what? Was there an electrical problem that caused the plane to explode in mid-air? Could the fuel tank explode on its own with no other contributing factors? The documentary focuses on the investigation of the parts of the plane that took years to recover, and what kind of analysis has taken place since the recovery. Six former NTSB workers who were part of the investigation came forward to share with the documentary filmmakers what they personally witnessed while investigating the disaster.
The fragments of the plane are now kept in a hangar where investigators have tried to “piece” the plane back together with the parts of the wreckage that were recovered. Not all of the plane was recovered, though most of it was able to be pulled from the ocean where it went down. What the documentary says the wreckage shows is the cause of the explosion: two distinct entry marks located in the bottom of the plane. Two entry marks that had to have come up from underneath the plane, where the documentary eludes to the impacts being caused by multiple missiles on the ground that were shot up and aimed specifically at the aircraft.
The documentary also points to over 300 residents of Long Island, who were all outside that evening, who all have the exact same story of what they saw happen in the sky. The witnesses all say they saw two beams of light similar to a firework go up in the sky, and then saw an explosion sending the plane into fragments. Two streaks of bright light followed by an explosion only points to one cause, the documentary points out: missiles were positioned to strike the aircraft. Though this theory brings the question of, if there were missiles that struck the plane, causing the explosion, then where are the remaining fragments of the missiles? Could a missile that was completely disintegrated hit the plane not once, but twice, leaving no trace?
One witness said that while the government was investigating the cause of the airplane explosion, they were going door to door looking for anyone who may have been an eyewitness to what took place that night. When the witness told the government official what they had seen, the response was, “That is not what you saw. Do you understand me? That is not what you saw, don’t ever repeat that again.” If this is true, as the documentary claims, then the speculation created is that this was a giant cover-up for the real cause of the plane’s explosion. But then the question becomes, why? Why would the government take down so many of their own on this plane and go to such great lengths to make sure that the “truth” is never discovered?
Sure, the claims of the two impact points found on the plane, coupled with the eyewitness testimony raises a few questions on how thorough the investigation into the cause of the explosion was, but does it really offer answers to our unanswered questions? If anything, all we are left with after viewing the documentary are more questions. Though there is one fact that cannot be denied, and that is there are lots of theories and speculations on what happened to TWA Flight 800, though the absolute truth will probably never be known.