The EPIX cable television channel will air the documentary TWA Flight 800 on July 17, a video that claims the official investigation over the 1996 airline disaster needs to be reopened because of new evidence. The New York-to-Paris flight exploded less than two minutes after take-off, killing all 230 passengers and crew aboard the plane.
The official National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation concluded that the explosion of TWA Flight 800 on July 17, 1996 was likely a result of an electrical short that ignited a fuel tank on the wing of the Boeing 747 aircraft. Fueling speculation about the TWA Flight 800 tragedy was the remarkably safe flight history of the Boeing 747 fleet; no 747 had seen a mid-wing fuel tank explode in the more than 25 years of flights before that time, or since.
The video's producers concluded, according to Time magazine, that they have “reviewed the FAA radar evidence along with new evidence not available to the NTSB during the official investigation and [they] contend that the NTSB’s probable cause determination is erroneous and should be reconsidered."
Aviation journalist William J. McGee at Time.com wrote that “There may be enough smoking guns to warrant reopening the investigation.” McGee concluded after watching the documentary, “Although I’m not ready to support all the film’s premises, after watching the documentary, I believe there are enough smoking guns to warrant an unbiased reexamination. What surprises me, although I suppose it shouldn't, is the rush to slam the movie sight unseen.... It’s time that journalists and government officials alike recognize the best way to quell public doubts is to encourage further investigation. And let the results speak for themselves.”
McGee's view is not unanimous among the documentary's viewers. Popular Mechanics magazine published a persuasive article dismissing the documentary as “conspiracy theory.” Of course, conspiracy theories are commonplace and real, from the Mafia to Mexican drug gangs to 19 hijackers conspiring to hijack airplanes and fly them into buildings on September 11, 2001. Newspaper reporters generally dismiss as “conspiracy theories” only the conspiracy theories they don't believe in. And if anything has become apparent in recent months — as it was revealed the IRS has been targeting conservative political groups and the NSA is monitoring the telephone and Internet habits of the entire American public — is that even conspiracy theorists such as radio talk show host Alex Jones may have been insufficiently paranoid about their government's mendacity.
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Photo of Boeing 747-100 N93119, the TWA Flight 800 aircraft, in 1982