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Monday, July 17, 2006

Flight 800

Today is the 10th anniversary of the tragic downing of TWA flight 800 off of the coast of Long Island. Though the apparent cause of the disaster was a problem with the plane's center fuel tank, I remember the theories that were swirling in the aftermath of the crash. The most prevalent theory in the earliest days was a surface-to-air missile shot from a boat off the coast of Long Island. That theory dovetailed nicely with the one, widely disseminated in shuls and bagel shops community-wide, that the plane that the theoretical "terrorists" were aiming for was an El Al flight, supposedly claimed to have been unexpectedly delayed (as if an El Al flight being delayed is ever unexpected), allowing flight 800 to be at the precise point in the sky that the El Al plane was scheduled to be.

To this day, I have heard the conspiracy theories of terrorism vs. mechanical failure regarding this tragedy bandied about - even with the results of the FAA investigation having been published, and pointing with no uncertainty to mechanical failure. It's as if people are more inclined to believe in the evil than in the incompetence of their fellow man.

16 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It's as if people are more inclined to believe in the evil than in the incompetence of their fellow man."

This would have been deep had it been written by a 12 year old.

10:16 AM  
Blogger treehousebob said...

A most excelent novel by Nelson Demille "NIGHTFALL" is about this air tragedy. I think he's on the money

10:17 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...


This would have been deep had it been written by a 12 year old.


Oh, hey! It's my friendly Cadwalader troll again. Nice to see you back around - we missed you so!

10:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Treehouse - I read DeMille's book as well. Don't know if he's on the money or not but I highly recommend the book...it's terrific.
OM, the Anon attack was a bit too harsh but he/she was correct in the sense that you are not really an expert on this subject so you opinion has no real basis other than "that's what everyone says so it must be true".
Many experts have been baffled by this crash. 747’s are not supposed to blow up in mid-air. There were many eye-witness accounts - from different angles and perspectives (boaters, beach dwellers, pilots) that all corroborated some type of mysterious streak that appeared to have originated from the water.
There have been “explanations” for this – reflections off the water, sound being slower then light so people “perceiving” that they saw a light BEFORE the explosion were actually seeing the explosion first and then HEARing the explosion…among other theories
I’m not saying that the flight was actually shot down…I’m just saying it’s overly simplistic on your part to suggest that these theories are posited because “people are more inclined to believe in the evil than in the incompetence of their fellow man.”.
One can suggest the reverse as well – Some people would sooner believe that a 747 just exploded out of the sky because of some mysterious “Mechanical Failure” rather then consider the possibility that there are people out there who are ready willing and ABLE to actually carry out what we consider unthinkable.
Read the book OM…it’s great beach reading!

12:21 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...

OM, the Anon attack was a bit too harsh but he/she was correct in the sense that you are not really an expert on this subject so you opinion has no real basis other than "that's what everyone says so it must be true".

The anonymous troll has been frequent visitor, and he/she knows who he is. Don't bother reading into his/her comments, the troll has inexplicably spent many billable hours trashing the competency my writing style, both here and on other blogs. You'd have to imagine if he hates my writing so much, he would just stay away.

I don't see that I said "that's what everyone said so it must be true". I based my point regarding on the malfunction on the report published by the FAA, which entailed the painstaking retreival of most of the plane from the bottom of the ocean floor, and the reconstruction of the plane in a hangar. To say I based my belief that the plane was downed by malfunction on "what everyone says" is a bit of an exaggeration.

I have heard from many people who seem unable to believe that the plane was downed by malfunction. There are many sites devoted to "proving" that flight 800 was brought down by a missile. And I stand by my statement that I find it fascinating that your average person would rather believe those conspiracy theories than believe the results of an exhaustive study that showed malfunction as the cause of the crash.

12:50 PM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

"Never ascribe to malice that which can be explained by incompetence."

One major problem with any TWA 800 conspiracy theory is that you need to explain who would want to shoot down the plane AND not want to claim credit for it. The entire point of terrorism is for people to know that the terrorists did it - so I can't understand why a terror group would go through the trouble of launching such a sophisticated operation, only to slink away in silence when it was successfully completed.

12:53 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...


Read the book OM…it’s great beach reading!


I should be so lucky as to get to the beach with my workload what it is...

1:00 PM  
Blogger DAG said...

Or that people believe the govt will and does cover some things up to keep us from mass-hysteria

2:39 PM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

dag- I haven't noticed that the government was good at keeping much of anything secret of late.

2:53 PM  
Blogger Ezzie said...

OM - I agree with you... I'll just note that many ppl do the same regarding government action. (9/11, Plame, etc.)

4:00 PM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

Ezzie - I knew 9/11 was government action!

;-)

4:33 PM  
Anonymous Holy Hyrax said...

"It's as if people are more inclined to believe in the evil than in the incompetence of their fellow man."

Its not that they are inclined. Its just that so many eye witnesses reported to have seen a streak flying in the sky, then the plane crashing.

5:01 PM  
Anonymous Ozzie said...

I knew two people on that flight. Sad Yawp!

5:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OM: If you can't get to the beach for an afternoon you need to slow down on the blogging...come on you could really use a suntan! Make sure to wear plenty of sun block though...
: )
As far as the Flight 800 conspiracy theories go; like you, I prefer not to go the “government cover-up/conspiracy” route – I was simply pointing out that, despite the thorough investigation and conclusion there are still many experts who do not accept the NTSB/FAA conclusion and wonder things like “Why was the animation that illustrated alternate explanations of the mystery streak created by the CIA?”
All I’m saying is that it’s not a simple subject.
Somewhat Anon:
As far as terror groups not taking credit…I agree it’s an excellent point with one major flaw…Al Qada denied the USS Cole, the embassy bombing and 9/11. These people make no sense. Why go through all that work and then deny it was you right? But that’s been their MO.
Actually, something similar just happened last week after the first attack on Haifa. Hezbollah announced that if Israel continued the airstrikes it would attack Haifa. Later that day, as promised, Haifa was hit with a number of rockets. When Israel responded by saying that the Haifa attack was a serious escalation Hezbollah DENIED that they fired the rockets! That’s nuts right?
While I’m airing my thoughts on the subject, this has always driven me nuts – The Arab world in general follows this mentality all the time. These terrorist regimes spew hate for the US and Israel. The terrorist types say they’re going to kill Americans blah blah blah…then…4 planes are hijacked and crash (or attempt to crash) into symbolic buildings…so…who did it? THE ZIONISTS! Muslims wouldn’t do such a thing they say…but they’ve been saying they were going to do it for YEARS!! You just can’t make this stuff up folks.

5:38 PM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

anon 5:38 - I can see why a particular terror group would deny committing the act at the time, but in the cases that you listed, it was known that it was indeed a terror attack (and I believe AQ admitted to both subsequently - certainly 9/11). A terror attack that nobody knows is terrorism is completely ineffective, whereas one where it is known to be terror but the perpetrator is unknown/unconfirmed can still be effective.

6:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Somewhat:
you're right, if no one knows that is was terrorism it's comepletely ineffective...maybe there's some really pissed off terrorist somewhere in Afganistan saying (said with non-specific middle eastern accent) "Those studpid Americans! We blew up that plane and wasted a perfectly good missile and they think it just BLEW UP by ITSELF?? COME ON people...What do we have to do? to get out this message?? How much more clear do we need to be?OK...ACHMED!! Get the video camera...what? I don't care that American Idle is almost over...we need to do this NOW! Kids..."

7:58 PM  

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