Mystery of TWA Flight 800 Lives On

Reconstruction of TWA 800 wreckage in a hangar at Calverton Executive Airpark

The last active lawsuit seeking to get to the truth of what happened back on July 17, 1996, when TWA 800 blew up off the coast of Long Island, has basically reached the end of the line. For the 14th anniversary of the tragic event, which killed 230 people, I interviewed Ray Lahr and his attorney John Clarke on AIM’s weekly BlogTalkRadio show, Take AIM.

Lahr is a former Navy pilot, engineer and crash investigator, who spent more than 30 years with United Air Lines, the last 20 of those as a safety representative for the Air Line Pilots Association. He received the Air Safety Award, the highest honor given by the Air Line Pilots Association, and was an engineer, who designed and patented the Jeppesen Computer, which is widely used by airline pilots. Ray Lahr became interested in the case as events unfolded. But he chose to get involved after watching a CIA-produced animation of the government’s scenario of what happened to TWA 800.

Lahr and Clarke are the gentlemen who waged this long-lasting legal battle to demand that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the CIA come clean on how they arrived at their conclusions.

They are among a group of people who have investigated it, written about it, and challenged the government and the mainstream media to look at the evidence and draw conclusions based on that evidence. I have acknowledged many of these people in articles and a documentary, “TWA 800: The Search for the Truth,” that I produced and co-wrote. They include Jim Sanders, author and investigator, Commander Bill Donaldson, the now-deceased Navy pilot and crash investigator, and journalist and filmmaker Jack Cashill, who has done more than anyone as a journalist, writing mostly for, to keep this story alive. In 2007 and 2008 he wrote about Lahr and Clarke’s valiant efforts, and earlier this month he called it “The Last Great Coverup.” AIM’s founder and long-time chairman, Reed Irvine, was very committed to finding out the truth about what happened and exposing the cover-up.

In my interview, Lahr spoke of receiving an Air Traffic Control radar tape that “showed four blips, looked like high-velocity target, approaching TWA 800.”

Lahr and Clarke are convinced that the Boeing 747 was brought down by a missile, or missiles, but are not ready to say with certainty whether it was a terrorist missile or a Naval exercise gone wrong.

John Clarke talked about the role of the media in the coverage and the cover-up: “…the media has acted, collectively, as one would expect a public relations department for the government to act.  I mean, to show this ludicrous video from the beginning, back in November of 1997, without getting any independent advice as to whether or not it was even possible, is ludicrous.  Besides, there are—673 eyewitnesses called the FBI to tell them, to report what they’d seen.  So there are probably over a thousand witnesses.  Now, we know that many, many of those witnesses contacted The New York Times, and contacted other newspapers, to try to explain what it was that they had seen, but The New York Times didn’t publish it.  So think about it: This is homicide. These are 230 counts of homicide within the eyesight of a thousand people.  Now, if the government can get away with that, because of the news media, they can really get away with—then, really, it sort of tells us that this country, the population, is kind of losing touch with reality.”

When this happened in 1996, it was shortly before the Atlanta Olympics, shortly after the Khobar Towers bombing by the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorist organization that killed 19 Americans and injured another 372, and less than four months before President Clinton’s re-election.

You can listen to my interview with Ray Lahr and John Clarke, or read the transcript here.

Roger AronoffRoger Aronoff is a media analyst with Accuracy in Media, and is the writer/director of the award-winning documentary, “Confronting Iraq: Conflict and Hope.”
He can be contacted at

Images added by Gulag Bound.

Speak Your Mind