Internet Rumors and TWA Flight 800

The accident involving Flight 800 happened in mid-1996 when the average person was just beginning to become aware of the capabilities of the Web. For many, that meant an opportunity to contribute to the debate surrounding this accident. Those contributions ranged from information provided by the news media and formal aviation organizations to the hundreds of organizations and individuals that created Web sites dedicated to some aspect of the accident. While some of these sites focused on the facts associated with the accident, many had a focus on the many rumors, misperceptions, and even outright fabrications about the accident and the subsequent investigation. Below you will find a number of links and resources that will allow you compare and contrast these official and unofficial sources of information.

The Official Investigation
In August 2000, the National Transportation Safety Board completed its investigation of the accident and determined that the probable cause of the accident was an explosion of the center wing fuel tank, resulting from ignition of a flammable fuel/air mixture in the tank. The source of ignition energy for the explosion could not be determined with certainty, but the most likely was a short circuit outside of the CWT that allowed excessive voltage to enter it through electrical wiring associated with the fuel quantity indication system.
Final NTSB Report
TWA plane crashes

Alternative Exlanations
There were a number of alternative explanations for the cause or causes of the accident that were radically different from the conclusions of the NTSB. Finding opinions and points of view about these various conspiracies is as easy as searching on your favorite search engine. While these theories may be compelling and even entertaining, for any of them to overturn part or all of the official NTSB findings would take a combination of new evidence and investigation. In general, those alternatives tended to fall into the following categories:

  • Missiles
  • Meteors
  • Bombs
  • UFOs and the paranormal
  • Broader Conspiracies and coverups

Internet Rumors and TWA Flight 800 -- Revised 4 October 2014