International Flags - TWA Flight 800 Memorial | Smith Point, New York

© Sophie W. Smith

Joined October 2012

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Trans World Airlines Flight 800 (TWA 800), was a Boeing 747-100 which exploded and crashed into the Atlantic Ocean near East Moriches, New York, on July 17, 1996, at about 8:31 p.m. EDT, 12 minutes after takeoff from John F. Kennedy International Airport on a scheduled international passenger flight to Rome, with a stopover in Paris.1 All 230 people on board were killed in the third-deadliest aviation accident in U.S. territory.

Accident investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) traveled to the scene, arriving the following morning,313 and there was much initial speculation that a terrorist attack was the cause of the crash. Consequently, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) initiated a parallel criminal investigation. Sixteen months later, the FBI announced that no evidence had been found of a criminal act and closed its active investigation.

The four-year NTSB investigation concluded with the approval of the Aircraft Accident Report on August 23, 2000, ending the most extensive, complex, and costly air disaster investigation in U.S. history. The report’s conclusion was that the probable cause of the accident was an explosion of flammable fuel/air vapors in a fuel tank, and, although it could not be determined with certainty, the most likely cause of the explosion was a short circuit.:xvi As a result of the investigation, new requirements were developed for aircraft to prevent future fuel tank explosions.

TWA Flight 800 conspiracy theories exist, the most prevalent being that a missile strike from a terrorist or an accidental launch from a U.S. Navy vessel caused the crash, and is the subject of a government coverup. Witness accounts lend support to the most prevalent theory. Read more

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