On This Day — Pan Am Flight 214 Crashes. Lesson Learned?(December 8 1963)

“Aviation investigations are replete with accident scenarios that couldn’t happen. And given the lack of bomb evidence so far, neither scenario has been ruled out, officials said. First is the possibility that the doomed plane’s front section, which has a history of structural fatigue cracks and must undergo regular inspections, simply unzipped from the rest of the plane as weakened structural frames gave way.”

TWA 800 — Washington Post (August 1 1996)

December 8 2020 — Pan Am Flight 214 was a scheduled flight of Pan American World Airways from San Juan, Puerto Rico, to Baltimore, Maryland, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. On December 8, 1963, the Boeing 707 serving the flight crashed near Elkton, Maryland, while en route from Baltimore to Philadelphia, after being hit by lightning, killing all 81 on board. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY

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Lockerbie — Three Decades of Lies: J’Accuse…!

QUICK NOTES — To make it easier for the readers to retrieve various chapters of my book, I have created a special page  “Lockerbie” where all the links to the chapters will be listed with a brief description. You can access that page directly as it appears at the far right of the top bar of this blog.

Lockerbie — Three Decades of Lies: J’Accuse…!

The accident is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records (2005) as the “Worst Lightning Strike Death Toll.”

On December 17, 1963, nine days after the crash of flight 214, Leon H. Tanguay, director of the CAB Bureau of Safety, sent a letter to the FAA recommending several safety modifications as part of future aircraft design.

One modification related specifically to volatile fuel vapours that can form inside partly empty fuel tanks, which may be ignited by various potential ignition sources and cause an explosion.

Tanguay’s letter suggested reducing the volatility of the fuel/air gas mixture by introducing an inert gas, or by using air circulation.

Thirty-three years later, a similar recommendation was issued by the NTSB (the CAB Bureau of Safety’s successor) after the TWA Flight 800 Boeing 747 crash on July 17, 1996, with 230 fatalities, which was also deemed to have been caused by the explosion of a volatile mixture inside a fuel tank.

In the case of TWA 800, the FBI is known to have attempted to hide vital information pointing to a mechanical failure while trying to portray the accident as an act of terrorism.

We know that the FBI attempted to portray the TWA 800 accident as an act of terrorism.

We also know that it was not their first time as they did exactly that in the case of Avianca Flight 203.

This begs an obvious question. Have they got away with such lies in other cases?

Time will tell. Truth never dies…

“The FBI didn’t want to hear about anything but a missile or a bomb, because otherwise there was no FBI case. Their conduct was disturbing from the very beginning.”

Chuck Grassley — Chairman of the Judiciary subcommittee on administrative oversight –Washington Post (May 9 1999)

UPDATE (December 8 2020) — The similarities between the tragedies of Flight TWA 800 and Pan Am 103 are stunning.

I have summarized my findings regarding these events in chapter X of my book:

Lockerbie – Three Decades of Lies: J’Accuse…! [Chapter X : What Happened to Pan Am Flight 103?]

Here is an extract.

Striking Similarities with TWA 800 : No Bomb, No Case.

In the case of TWA 800, the FBI is known to have attempted to hide vital information pointing to a mechanical failure while trying to portray the accident as an act of terrorism. [22]

FBI’s former chief metallurgist, William Tobin, testified that bureau officials repeatedly and angrily dismissed scientific evidence that pointed to a mechanical malfunction.

‘The FBI didn’t want to hear about anything but a missile or a bomb, because otherwise there was no FBI case,” said (Senator Chuck) Grassley, chairman of the Judiciary subcommittee on administrative oversight.

“Their conduct was disturbing from the very beginning.”

The similarities between the Pan Am 103 and TWA 800 cases are just striking.

After the crash of TWA 800, the investigators immediately recovered parts of the plane showing “pitting and sooting” which was interpreted as evidence of a high performance explosive.

Then, analysis of a few swabs indicated that SEMTEX was the explosive used by the terrorists.

After the black box was recovered, the investigators concluded that the sharp noise at the end of the tape was clear evidence of a bomb explosion. [23]

“Sound spectrum analysis of cockpit voice recorders has proved to be one of the most effective means for spotting and describing explosive damage.

The Pan Am 103 bombing over Lockerbie left such a detailed explosive signature that the recording alone was evidence of a bomb.”

Please note that, as I explained above, the Washington Post was lying about the “detailed explosive signature” of the last recorded noise. The Lockerbie investigators never made such a claim.

Assistant FBI Director James K. Kallstrom claimed that the TWA 800 tape resembled findings from the 1988 disaster over Lockerbie, Scotland. [24]

From the beginning, James Kallstrom thought that terrorists were responsible.

“The sudden halt to voice transmissions from the cockpit before the explosion was consistent with the pattern of Pan Am 103. So was the mid- air disintegration of the aircraft.”

Vincent Cannistraro — the man who headed the CIA investigation into the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 — repeated the same claim ad nauseam. [25]

“There’s no mechanical event I know of that would cut off everything that suddenly. I don’t have much doubt that it’s an act of sabotage,” Cannistraro said.

“There was a normal conversation and then a crunching sound like the airplane breaking up. That was the bomb.”

“A massive catastrophic event that cuts off everything at once is probably a bomb, not a mechanical problem.”

A few seconds before the disintegration of TWA 800, several radars recorded an anomaly. [26]

“Investigators were particularly perplexed by a small blip that appeared near the jet on radar screens just before the crash.”

When asked why a terrorist organisation would bomb a plane and not take credit for the act, Assistant FBI Director James K. Kallstrom simply answered [27] :

“it doesn’t matter whether anyone claimed credit or not. The event in itself is a public statement. No one claimed credit for Pan Am 103.”

And then, bit by bit, all the ‘evidence’ went away.

On May 10, 1999, Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) held a one-day hearing with witnesses offering damaging testimony about the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s role in the TWA 800 probe. [28]

Grassley’s  opening remarks were particularly critical of former FBI Assistant Director James Kallstrom for failing to uncover the cause of the explosion that killed the jumbo jet’s 230 passengers and crew on July 17, 1996.

Grassley’s hearing focused on two star witnesses. One was Andrew Vita, assistant director of field operations for the Bureau of  Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF).

The second was William A. Tobin, former chief metallurgist for the FBI. Both supported Grassley’s claim that Kallstrom needlessly prolonged the probe.

Vita testified that several months into the investigation the BATF concluded there was no evidence that high explosives caused TWA 800’s mid-air disintegration.

In late January, 1997, Vita put the BATF’s views in an unsolicited, written report to be submitted to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

But, Vita testified, he “met resistance” from the FBI. Grassley discovered that Kallstrom had suppressed the report and never forwarded it to the NTSB.

Tobin testified that Kallstrom adamantly believed a bomb destroyed TWA 800.

When traces of the high explosives PETN and RDX  were found on the aircraft, Tobin says Kallstrom claimed it was proof of a bomb. Tobin thought otherwise.

About six weeks into the probe, Tobin testified, he decided there was no evidence of terrorist act and told Kallstrom the crash was an accident.

So, whatever happened to the pitting and the SEMTEX evidence?

“The operation of the salt on the metal causes pitting, and there was concern that such pitting caused by the salt could obscure or be confused with the pitting normally caused by high explosives.”

It was alleged that there may have been a canine bomb-detection test carried out on TWA 800.

Still the mystery remains how such casual contamination could have left traces of explosive after weeks of immersion in salt water.

Both FBI laboratory and independent scientific tests show that water washes away all traces of high explosives within 24 hours.

So this SEMTEX evidence was at best the result of contamination or, possibly, fabricated evidence.

And of course, in both Pan Am 103 and TWA 800, the front part of the plane detached from the rest of the aircraft… Just at the infamous Section 41/42.

END of UPDATE

“Governments lie. They do it all the time. And, much as we’d like to believe otherwise, the US government is no exception. There were times when we may have believed otherwise. But after Vietnam and Watergate, we know better.”

US Journalist Ted Koppel — “The USS Vincennes: Public War, Secret War.” –  ABC News (July 1st 1992)

REFERENCES

Pan Am Flight 214 — Wikipedia

FBI: No criminal evidence behind TWA 800 crash — CNN

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On This Day — Pan Am Flight 214 Crashes (December 8 1963)

On This Day — Pan Am Flight 214 Crashes (December 8 1963) [Lesson Learned?]

On This Day — Pan Am Flight 214 Crashes. Lesson Learned?(December 8 1963)

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