This is a chronological list of correspondence between independent investigator Commander William S. Donaldson, USN Retired, and the TWA Flight 800 Investigation. The Government has been fairly unresponsive. After long delay, the NTSB responded to two letters then ignored him. The FBI has failed to respond personally to any of Donaldson's letters. The FBI did respond to letters Donaldson co-authored with Representative James Traficant of the House Subcommittee on Aviation.
April 24, 1997First Letter to the NTSB From the letter: I couldn't let [NTSB Director] Jim Hall's April 11 Letter to the Editor go without mention of salient facts ("Flight 800: It Wasn't a Missile"). I was a Navy carrier pilot for 25 years and a crash investigator. Mr. Hall made two statements that are markedly unscientific: "We know that an explosive fuel air vapor mixture existed in the center fuel tank." Wrong. We most definitely don't know that. Aviation kerosene cannot be induced to burn at temperatures below 100 degrees Fahrenheit (flash point), and will not propagate fire until 400 degrees Fahrenheit (auto ignition temperature) is reached.
Reply: September 11, 1997Letter From James Hall, Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, to Commander Donaldson From the letter: Let me be clear about at least one more thing. I have spent numerous years in public service, including time as an Army Officer with decorated service in Vietnam. I would never, and I do not believe that the many men and women who have worked on this tragedy would ever, participate in any sort of cover up of a potential terrorist or criminal act. For you to imply otherwise, without a shred of evidence, is either self serving or indicative of a delusional state of mind.
September 18, 1997Second Letter to the NTSB From the letter: Understand the tone of my letter you express concern for was the result of hundreds of uncompensated man-hours of careful study balanced against the intimate knowledge of jet aircraft piloting, maintenance, and mishap investigation assimilated during a twenty-five year military career. Also be assured somehow during that span my "delusional state of mind" as you put it, must have been in remission, that is unless the 19 personal and 5 unit awards hanging in my den are figments of my imagination!
Reply: October 29, 1997Reply to Second Letter From James Hall, Chairman of the NTSB, to Commander Donaldson From the letter: I have referred your new statements on Jet A fuel to our technical experts and have asked them to review them and to respond appropriately. I can only say that the aggressive certainty of some of your statements appears not to be justified. I will, of course, share our staff's observations with you when they are completed.
[Despite Hall's promise this was the last communication from the NTSB.]
November 14, 1997Third Letter to the NTSB From the letter: Phrases like, "The aggressive certainty of some of your statements appears not to be justified." may mean something to a Tennessee lawyer, but it's nonsense to me. All I've done is what your advisers should have done day one, that is; quote the pre-existing professional data, THE Aviation Fuels Handbook! Because of your agency's successful permutation of facts essential to this investigation, it's pernicious effect on the media, the incredible crash scenario you have tabled apparently designed to subvert eyewitness testimony, and your stonewalling of simple congressional questions, I have sought and received funding to conduct an independent investigation.
December 3, 1997Letter to Director of the FBI From the letter: Mr. Freeh I will be candid, the fact that the FBI is now joining in lockstep with the NTSB political script sadly was not a surprise to me, because of what I had discovered on Long Island. Mr. Kallstrom's agents who "turned over every rock ten times," failed to tape critical eyewitness testimony, failed to establish visual bearing lines from the witnesses who observed ascending objects, failed to get elevation measurements, failed to get relative motion statements and in some cases failed to even go to the observation point, that is except from some eyewitnesses who didn't see a missile! Like Mrs. Sahid. Multiple witnesses tell me agents on rare second or third visits to persons who saw ascending objects tried to get the witness to change their original stories? Many of these people are now afraid of and disgusted with their own government, the administrations mantra "No evidence of a criminal act" is turning normal American citizens into bitter cynics.
January 21, 1998Response from the FBI to a letter from the House Aviation Subcommittee Commander Donaldson worked with Representative Traficant's Office to formulate these questions. From the letter: Dear Representative Trafficant, Enclosed, for inclusion in the record of the hearing before the Aviation Subcommittee on July 1997, please find the FBI's responses to the written questions submitted by your letter dated October 1, 1997 to then Assistant Director in Charge James K. Kallstrom.
July 27, 1998
FBI reply to Congressman Trafficant's April 1998 letter co-authored by DonaldsonJuly 27th Letter from Lewis D. Schiliro, Acting Assistant Director in Charge, FBI. In response to an April letter to the FBI from Congressman James A Trafficant, (D) Ohio. From the letter: Following extensive analysis of raw radar returns by the FBI, the NTSB and an outside expert, in January, 1997 the FBI first noted the presence of a surface vessel, which, because of its speed of between 25 and 35 knots, is believed to be at least 25-30 feet in length, approximately 2.9 nautical miles from the position of Flight 800 at the time of the initial explosion. The analysis first noted the boat's presence at approximately 8:11 P.M., traveling in a South, Southwesterly direction. The last radar contact was noted at approximately 8:45 P.M. Despite extensive efforts, the FBI has been unable to identify this vessel... Can the FBI share with my office the results of its radar analysis, specifically, the identities of all the surface vessels and aircraft in the proximity of TWA Flight 800? [FBI response] NO...
September 24, 1998Letter to FBI: Conflicting statements about surface vessels From the letter: The subject of this letter addresses a simple dilemma. Both Deputy Directors, Kalstrom and Schiliro are now on record in direct conflict attempting to explain to congress and the American people the identities of suspicious surface radar contacts in the immediate vicinity of Flight 800 when it exploded. [See Mystery Ships for background information.]
Reply: Not yet
September 25, 1998Letter to FBI: Soviet SAM 6 Missile From the letter: After careful study of witness provided characteristics, speed, range, launch and staging sounds, sustainer motor burn out time, launch position, optical guidance flare, etc. coupled with warhead burst characteristics and aircraft damage in evidence, our missile experts are in agreement: The weapon used against TWA Flight 800 was most probably a modified Soviet SAM 6...
...The SA6 is normally carried on a TEL with three missiles loaded. Designed as a mobile air defense system for soviet armor and troops, the TEL with missiles loaded could easily be carried aboard any ocean going vessel and transported as covered deck cargo.
Reply: Not yet
September 26, 1998Letter to FBI: Shinnecock Red Flare Incident From the letter: On 17 March 1997 Retired FBI Special Agent Philip E. Kulman wrote a very professional letter to Mr. Kallstrom (see the letter at Ref., Exhibit 27). Mr. Kulman describes his concerns about the Shinnecock Red Flare Incident [Possible missile fire incident 22 days before the TWA 800 crash] as being possible missile fire and describes his previous contacts about this event with the FBI.
Reply: Not yet
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