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TWA flight 800

TWA flight 800 was a passenger flight to Paris from New York on July 17, 1996. The plane, a Boeing 747, exploded in mid-air and crashed, killing all 230 people on board. The cause of the explosion is unknown.

Official Explanation The CIA stated, and the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation found that, the flammable fuel/air mixture of the center wing fuel tank ignited due to electrical failure, causing the plane to explode in flight.

Alternate Theories However, Cmdr. William S. Donaldson, a retired Naval officer who conducted an independent investigation, disagrees with the official theory. According to Commander Donaldson, "jet airliners built by the American aerospace industry have logged at least 150 thousand years of flight time. Not once has there ever been a spontaneous fuel tank explosion on any fuel tank while airborne." (Letter to NTSB 11-14-97).

Donaldson concluded that the airplane was shot down by missiles. He interviewed hundreds of witnesses and reconstructed the flight paths of the missiles by triangulating the eyewitness accounts.

There have also been persistent rumors that the plane was downed by a bomb (see Mohammed Samir Ferrat for one theory). In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attack, these alternate explanations have been revisited, as some officials and commentators have mentioned this disaster among lists of terrorist attacks.

There is, however, little corroborating evidence for the alternate theories.

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