Alex Constantine - September 29, 2007
Former National Transportation Safety Board member Dr. Vernon Grose joined an independent group's call to stop CNN from airing its controversial show on the 1996 crash of TWA Flight 800. Dr. Grose called the CNN Presents show "a travesty for objective truth" when signing a petition sponsored by the Flight 800 Independent Researchers Organization (FIRO).
FIRO's petition calls on CNN to stop re-airing the show due to the group's claim that it contains serious factual errors to support government conclusions. Dr. Grose, who appeared on CNN regularly in the days and months following the crash initially backed the government investigation. But that changed when he was briefed by military personnel, including an Air National Guard helicopter pilot in the air at the time of the crash.
Major Fred Meyer, a decorated Vietnam veteran who flew overland rescues during his tour told Grose he is certain a missile brought down Flight 800. Meyer saw missiles flying in Vietnam and says he saw one hit Flight 800.
CNN didn't interview Major Meyer, but did interview eyewitness Naneen Levine. Although not a rescue pilot, Levine agrees with Major Meyer and thinks she saw a missile take out Flight 800. But CNN let an FBI official assert that she must have seen Flight 800 climbing sharply in the air after it exploded, and that the climbing aircraft looked like a missile. But Levine said that the missile traveled from the surface up to Flight 800, and arcing west. Flight 800 was already 2.6 miles up and heading east when it exploded, according to federal investigators.
And according to FIRO, this and other discrepancies spurred them to launch the petition. The most irresponsible segment in the show, according to FIRO and aerodynamics experts, was CNN's animation of Flight 800 climbing sharply after exploding. The government's own documents apparently refute this climb.
FIRO references the Safety Board's "Main Wreckage Flight Path Study," which compares FAA radar data of Flight 800 crashing to government simulations of Flight 800 climbing. If Flight 800 climbed sharply, it would have slowed down quickly due to the law of conservation of energy, like a bicyclist climbing a steep hill according to FIRO.
And if Flight 800, in reality, didn't climb, the simulation data from a climbing aircraft would have quickly dropped behind the radar data of Flight 800 maintaining altitude or descending. And this is what the Flight Path Study shows: the simulations fall behind Flight 800's true, radar-tracked course by a quarter mile in about eight seconds.
CNN has defended its decision to include an animation of the plane climbing sharply, saying that it cited the government as the source of the data used to create it. But CNN has not explained why the show did not discuss their animation's conflict with Flight 800's radar-tracked course or the implications to the government's explanation of the eyewitness accounts if, as the radar record apparently shows, Flight 800 did not climb at all.
FIRO's petition can be viewed or signed here: http://tinyurl.com/39e5gb