(NaturalNews) The airline doesn't exist anymore but theories about what happened to one of its flights 17 years ago have simmered for years. Now, one of the most prominent of those theories has been thrust to the forefront by six former crash investigators who have come forward in a new documentary to challenge the "official" story.
TWA Flight 800, a Boeing 747, took off from JFK International Airport in New York City with 230 people aboard on July 17, 1996, enroute to Paris. Moments later the aircraft exploded, raining debris and humanity off the coast of East Moriches, Long Island. Following a four-year investigation, the federal government's National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), TWA and others declared that the explosion of a fuel tank was caused by faulty wiring that had short-circuited.
'Initially, law enforcement officials believed it was a criminal act'
In the days following, nearly 100 of more than 700 eyewitnesses interviewed by the FBI described seeing a streak of light move from the Earth leading to an explosion, which seemed to suggest a missile had struck the Boeing 747.
Initially, law enforcement officials also strongly believed a criminal act - either a bomb or a missile - was the likeliest explanation for the catastrophic explosion, which severed the plane's front end, including the cockpit, from the rest of the fuselage.
In the final NTSB report, however, aviation investigators and the FBI backed away from that theory, saying it just wasn't likely - even though investigators never could determine precisely what caused the explosion.
In their new documentary the six whistleblowers - all from the original crash investigation team including investigators, at the time, from the NTSB, TWA, and the Airline Pilots Association - say the government's explanation was wrong.
While the team did stopped short of actually saying was that the plane was indeed shot down, they leave little room for doubt about what they believe happened.
"...This team of investigators who actually handled the wreckage and victims' bodies, prove that the officially proposed fuel-air explosion did not cause the crash," says a statement by the producers of the film, set to debut on cable network EPIX in July. "They also provide radar and forensic evidence proving that one or more ordnance explosions outside the aircraft caused the crash."
Where the "ordnance" originated from, the team also does not say. At the time some theorized that a terrorist group brought the aircraft down - which, if true, likely would have caused nationwide panic at the time.
All of the whistleblowers have since retired from their positions, reports said. At the time they were conducting their investigation, they claim they were placed under a gag order by the NTSB, "which they charged falsified the official conclusion of the cause of the crash," Fox News reported. The team said they planned to elaborate more on that point at a media briefing June 20.
'That's unheard of'
"We didn't find any part of the airplane that indicated a mechanical failure," says one of the whistleblowers in the documentary. Rather, they allege that the explosion came from outside the plane.
Besides the missile theory, some believe there may have been a bomb on board Flight 800. But Tom Stalcup, the documentary's co-producer, told CNN there is "solid proof that there was an external detonation."
"Of course, everyone knows about the eyewitness statements, but we also have corroborating information from the radar data, and the radar data shows an asymmetric explosion coming out of that plane - something that didn't happen in the official theory," he said, adding: "Not one single eyewitness was allowed to testify. That's unheard of."
In either case, the whistleblowers believe what did actually happen has been covered up - for years. Former senior accident investigator with the NTSB Hank Hughes is one of them. In a preview of the documentary, he said FBI agents at the time of their investigation were spotted on a surveillance camera in the hanger where the 747 was being reconstructed "in the wee hours of the morning... for purposes unknown."