July 21, 1996
Editor: Joseph Trainor
Several disturbing facts have come to light since the crash Wednesday, July 17, of TWA Flight 800 off the shores of Long Island, New York.
According to the Boston, Mass. Herald of July 17, 1995 (page 2), "Some eyewitness accounts, including that of a New York Air National Guard pilot flying nearby, described a bright object moving toward the plane in the seconds before the craft blew up."
"'I saw what appeared to be the sort of course and trajectory you see when a shooting star enters the atmosphere,' Major Fred Meyer told reporters at a (Thursday) afternoon briefing. 'Almost immediately thereafter I saw in rapid succession a small explosion and then a large explosion.'"
"At the same time, air traffic controllers manning radar spotted a circular 'blip' in the vicinity of Flight 800, though CBS News later reported the Pentagon said it does not believe the radar irregularity is related to the crash."
According to the AP report, Major Meyer "was flying a C-130 (transport plane) off Long Island on a training mission at the time of the crash." He told reporters that "he saw an arc of light moving toward the plane." The same story mentions "witness reports of a 'streak of light' hitting the airplane just before it exploded."
"Paul Angelides, who lives in Westhampton Beach, said he was standing on a deck of a beachfront house when he saw what he described as a 'red meteor with a smoke tail' that followed the course like like the outline of 'a parabola.' He said he first saw 'the meteor' and then 'the fireball erupts at that other location, then the whole fireball falls to earth.'" (Providence, RI Journal-Bulletin, page A-10)
According to the New York Daily News of July 20, 1996 (page 3), "Several Long Island residents had reported seeing a flarelike object streak toward the jet, fueling speculation of a missile."
The Boeing 747 took off from John F. Kennedy International Airport on Long Island at 8:20 p.m. on Wednesday, July 17. When the jetliner cleared 800 feet, the Kennedy tower passed control to New York Terminal Radar Control (TRACON), located in Westbury, N.Y.
At 8:25 p.m., TRACON handed control of TWA Flight 800 to Logan Airport in Boston, Mass. Six minutes later, at 8:31 p.m., the jetliner, then flying at 13,700 feet, disappeared from both Logan and TRACON radars.
On the radar screen, the jetliner appeared as a lime-green lozenge. Because it was equipped with a transponder, the tiny letters TWA 800 appeared onscreen beneath the blip. During this six-minute interval, the "non-transponding blip" approached the aircraft, apparently the "red meteor" seen by Major Meyer and eyewitnesses on the ground.
According to the July 19 issue of USA Today (page 3A), the "witnesses say the plane exploded in a large orange fireball. As the plane fell, it broke into two big balls of flame. New York Air National Guard crews say the wreckage twisted as it came down, leaving a corkscrew trail of smoke. As the aircraft fell, the smoke blackened. It appeared as though sparks were flying from the plane. When the wreckage neared the water, witnesses heard at least two more explosions."
The wreckage hit the ocean about 20 miles south of Islip, N.Y.
Yesterday and today (July 20-21) FBI agents walked the beach at Smith Point Park on Long Island, searching for eyewitnesses to the plane's explosion.
Two searchers, Jim Cullen, 53, of East Moriches, N.Y. and a friend named O'Reilly made a strange discovery Thursday. While retrieving wreckage from the sea aboard O'Reilly's 27-foot Boston whaler boat, the men pulled in two dead women and began, in Cullen's words, to "weird out."
"The ladies we found were naked," Cullen reported. "But it was not like their clothes were burned off. I just don't get that, how that could have happened." (USA Today, July 19, 1996, page 3A)
The Boeing 747 itself also has an interesting connection to a UFO incident 20 years ago.
The airplane was the 153rd Boeing 747 manufactured. It was originally sold to now-defunct Eastern Airlines in the early 1970s, but Eastern resold it to TWA. In 1975, TWA sold the airplane to the Royal Iranian Air Force. The jetliner was at Mehrabad International Airport near Tehran on the night of September 19, 1976, when two Iranian F-4 Phantom jets engaged a large UFO in aerial combat.
Shortly after the UFO incident, TWA offered to buy back the Boeing 747 from the Shah's air force.
Finally, four days before the crash, a woman in Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey reported seeing a UFO just south of Long Island. "Ms. Patterson," her mother and another woman saw their UFO at 8:15 p.m. on Saturday, July 13. She reports, "My friend and my mother saw a light in the sky. It looked like a streak that a skywriting plane might make. It was stationary in the sky for at least 15 minutes. We watched it move west toward the setting sun, and suddenly another blinking one of the same type of light followed it. It finally moved down and back of a dark cloud, but the three of us observed it for over half an hour."
Atlantic Highlands is in northern New Jersey, on the southern shore of Sandy Hook Bay, about 20 miles southwest of the crash site.
Saturday, July 13, 1996, was a typical summer's night for "Mike Dawson" and his family. The Dawsons own a trailer in rural northeast Robertson County, not far from Orlinda, Tennessee. During the early morning hours of Sunday, July 14, Dawson, his wife and his two sons, age 12 and 10, were awakened by weird noises coming from their trailer's backyard deck.
Grabbing a flashlight, Dawson went to investigate. Sliding open the door, he sent the beam along the deck's wooden railing. He heard a noise that sounded like "something running across the deck, bumping into things." The noise startled him. Neither of his two dogs, J.R. and Sid, had barked at the intruder.
Swiveling his flashlight toward the railing, Dawson saw "something rear up and stare at him between the rails. He described it as a kind of rubbery or pulpy object five feet in diameter. It extended a tentacle or appendage through the railing and onto the deck floor. Dawson estimated that the appendage was "18 to 24 inches long...like an elephant's trunk."
To be sure that he wasn't seeing things, Dawson went to wake the two boys. The whole family then watched the creature from the trailer's dining room window. Then Mrs. Dawson noticed "bright lights some distance away" in a nearby clearing.
According to paranormal investigator Ed Kimbel, every time the Dawsons aimed their flashlight beam at the creature, "it acted like they were shooting at it. It kept moving real fast over the yard, under cars, back under the deck...every time he aimed the flashlight at it, it changed into a glowing disk."
At 4 a.m., Dawson left the trailer to see what had become of the dogs. He found them lying in the yard, very subdued. J.R. had a wound on his hind leg, just inside the thigh, and limped as if in great pain. Meanwhile, the UFO still hovered over the clearing, "shooting off rays." Dawson was struck on the elbow and the neck. Afterward, police reportedly found a small burn mark on the back of his neck.
Dawson and his sons trailed the weird creature out to the family's parked cars. Kimbel reports, "The windows of both vehicles were covered with some kind of fog or ice. And the car had some kind of electrical hum about it, and the antenna was shaking."
Figuring that they'd chased it away, they returned to the house. After sunup at 5:10 a.m., Mrs. Dawson saw the creature in a ditch nearby and phoned the Robertson County Sheriff's Department. Two officers reportedly responded to the call.
(Note: Is this a UFO encounter? Or an old-fashioned Tennessee "ha'nt?" As more information becomes available, you'll read it right here in UFO ROUNDUP.)
At 11 p.m. on Thursday, July 11, 1996, backpacker Dave Sorensen was ready to call it a night. Following a day of hiking, Sorensen had set up camp north of Quagmire Creek on Stoney Face Mountain, 15 miles east of Salida, Colorado.
"I was watching satellites through my binoculars about 11 p.m.," Sorensen reported. "I was following one from the southeast to the northwest when a cigar-shaped object crossed my (field of) view, going from west to east. It was large and barely visible through my binoculars. I don't think you could have seen it with the naked eye. As it passed by stars, (the) stars would go out, so I know it was a solid object. Imagine a matchstick stuck to the ceiling, and you're on your back looking at it."
Sorensen says he "followed it for 40 to 50 seconds, and then it went behind clouds. That thing had to be larger than a football field."
From his description, it appears that this blacked-out UFO was 300 feet (99 meters) long and traveling at an estimated speed of 220 miles per hour.
One hour earlier, according to Christopher O'Brien, paranormal researcher and author of THE MYSTERIOUS VALLEY, just after 10 p.m. on July 11, a couple in their twenties spied a UFO just east of Crestone, Colorado, 39 miles southeast of Salida.
O'Brien interviewed the couple last week. The woman woke up around 10 p.m., peered out the bedroom window and saw "a very large UFO" hovering behind the back fence. The man then awoke and also saw it. As he got out of bed, the UFO shot straight up into the sky. The couple described the UFO as "like a long plate, kind of rectangular" with eight "bumps" or solid blisters on the underside.
On Sunday, July 14, another "long rectangular pie plate" UFO was seen near Duchesne, Utah (population 1,700). This object also had "eight big circles" or protuberances on the belly, stretching 30 feet from the craft's center to its stern. Witnesses also reported "brightness" near the stern.
The rancher and his wife spied the UFO at 2 a.m. as it hovered "about a half-mile from the house." The vehicle, which they described as 40 feet long, emitted a probe, "a triangular object with blue lights." The probe flew over their feedlot, "and the cows just about went plumb crazy." The wife ran back inside the farmhouse and grabbed their videocam. According to O'Brien, she managed to shoot 25 seconds of flim, showing the probe flying over the couple's corral, circling the horses.
"He's been visited before," O'Brien said of the man he interviewed. "He had seven cattle mutilations during 1995. He says he'd had enough. He's ready to sell."
(Comment: If anybody has $200,000 and wants to buy a nice ranch in Utah's Uintah Basin, there's one available. Trouble is, it also moonlights as a spaceport for UFOs.)
That's it for this week. More flying saucer news next Sunday from "the paper that goes home."