Thursday, July 3, 2014

Malaysia Flight 370 Will Share the Fate of TWA 800; Conspiracy Theory Will Never Die

A press briefing in Kuala Lumpur March 2014
Nearly 18 years separates today's most-riveting air disaster from the explosion of TWA Flight 800 over the Atlantic on July 17, 1996. They are similar in many ways. Both disasters captured world attention, happening suddenly on mid-length trans-oceanic flights. In neither accident was there sufficient warning for a "Mayday" call and neither flight crew communicated to the ground what was happening in the air. Both planes disappeared into a dark ocean, Flight 800 with 230 on board. There were 239 on the still missing flight of Malaysia 370.

The next similarity is a prediction based on covering both accidents for American television networks and writing books about them. (Deadly Departure was published by HarperCollins in 2000. Penguin will publish my forthcoming book on MH 370 in 2016.)

Negroni predicts that the same kind of wild-eyed, never-say-die conspiracy theorists who shadow Flight 800 will forever cast doubt on whatever is ultimately determined to have happened on the Malaysian Airlines flight that disappeared on March 8th. Without pre-judging the investigation yet to take place, I can say I've already read enough nonsense about how MH 370 has been secreted in Diego Garcia, submerged in the Gulf of Thailand and been flown by radar-dodging pilots in the shadow of a Singapore jumbo jet, to last a lifetime.

Without a doubt, there is more to come.

Unlike TWA 800, where experienced tin-kickers had a hunch about an explosion in the Boeing 747's nearly empty fuel tank within a week of the accident, in Malaysia, we are two months into the mystery with no better idea of what caused the plane to veer west, north then south and finally run out of fuel somewhere in a vast expanse of ocean.

I write this today, having just read the report of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board denying the request to consider once again, its determination of probable cause in the TWA disaster. Lord knows what took them a year to reach the conclusion that there was nothing new in the "new evidence" the petitioners submitted last year around this time.

Last year, however, the folks behind the missile-shot-it-down - no make that three-missiles-shot-it-down - theory had a EPIX Network documentary to flog, and flog it they did with their headline making petition that the safety board take another look at the evidence in the TWA 800 accident.

Now the NTSB has done so, finding once again that a design flaw in the dissipation of heat from the center fuel tanks of all Boeing jetliners - some 8,000 in all - was responsible for the sudden and devastating blast that took down TWA Flight 800. What I find so remarkable about the missile guys is that the real story - that Boeing knew and failed to fix this well documented problem for 35 years wasn't sexy enough. Only scores of homicidal sailors willing to shoot down a civilian airliner and keep it secret for two decades could explain the crash of TWA Flight 800.

So here's hoping I am wrong about Malaysia 370. Here's praying that the plane will be found in the Indian Ocean and that an international corps of air safety professionals will put their noggins together and leverage their combined experience to figure out what went wrong on that airplane.

Here's a final plea that they have the fiber and the fortitude and the government support to press on regardless of where the evidence leads - using the TWA Flight 800 investigation and its subsequent ratification this week - as their guide and their beacon. And that the final report, is both credible and puts to rest the speculation and incredulity that so far typifies this latest aviation mystery.


Anonymous said...

Conspiracy theorists are still debating the Kennedy assassination, cause of World War I and II, and so on.

Patrick Smith said...

Baby with the bathwater:

I'm a little annoyed that you'd lump the Kennedy assassination in with the likes of TWA 800 or Malaysia 370. The assassination of JFK was, by almost every measure, a genuine conspiracy. Our own government agreed in 1980 when it ruled the Warren Commission had been flawed and that Kennedy's killing was "most likely" a conspiracy.

One problem is that there have been so many VARIATIONS of this conspiracy, many of them (Johnson killed Kennedy) outlandish, at the expense of the more credible ones.

There is plenty of good evidence pointing to a conspiracy in the case of Kennedy. You could almost call it overwhelming. This is not the case with TWA 800 and certainly not with MH370.

And let's not forget the many 9/11 fantasies. Or my favorite, chemtrails! It's nonsense like this makes it so easy for people to brush aside ALL conspiracy theories.

In any case, I've learned that no matter how irrational or misguided a persos's thinking is, you're never going to convince him or her otherwise. I've learned this in trying to reason with some of the "chemtrail" people. At a certain point, it doesn't matter what the evidence is, what's rational or what's real. It's what a person WANTS and seemingly needs to believe. It's like arguing religion.

It won't matter if they find MH370, or what the black boxes might show. It's too late. The conspiracies will continue on regardless.