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Task Force X-Ray

Trans World Airlines (TWA) Flight 800

Trans World Airlines (TWA) Flight 800 was a scheduled international passenger flight from John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York City, NY to Leonardo da Vinci Airport (FCO) in Rome, Italy, via Paris-Charles de Gaulle (CDG) in Paris, France. On July 17, 1996, at about 20:31 EDT (00:31 on July 18 UTC), the Boeing 747-131 flying the route (tail number N93119) exploded in mid-air and crashed into the Atlantic Ocean near East Moriches, New York. All 230 people on board (two pilots, two flight engineers, 14 flight attendants, 212 passengers) were killed and the aircraft was destroyed. The incident caused the third-highest number of fatalities of single-aircraft aviation accidents within U.S. territory, surpassed only by American Airlines Flight 191 and American Airlines Flight 587.

While investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) traveled to the scene, arriving the following day, much initial speculation centered on the crash being a terrorist attack. Consequently, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) initiated a parallel investigation into the crash. On November 18, 1997, it announced that no evidence had been found of a criminal act and the NTSB assumed sole control on the investigation.

The NTSB investigation ended with the adoption of its final report on August 23, 2000. In it they concluded that the probable cause of the accident was an explosion of the center wing fuel tank, most likely as a result of faulty wiring.

TWA Flight 800 alternative theories exist, suggesting that an external missile strike by a U.S. Navy vessel or terrorist, or, alternatively, an on-board bomb, caused the crash. The NTSB investigation considered the possibility that a bomb or missile caused the mishap, but found no evidence to support such a hypothesis.

My job: Replace the black box with a replica.

What they didn’t tell you:

The black box tapes revealed that the crew spotted some odd luminescent shape just off of the left wing. Shortly after it appeared, passengers started going crazy. There was the mention on the recorder of flying demons. Shortly after that members of the crew were affected. Nothing was reliably reported after that. The left center wing fuel tank did explode; however, it was ripped into from the outside at 20,000 feet.

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