Saturday, December 1, 2012

On the Origin of a Species

John Lear Tells All - 03

TWA 800 was shot down by a Navy submarine. It’s been kept under wraps like that. I often hear people say: Well that’s not possible because we know that Navy guys are the most talkative in the world and certainly somebody would talk.

That’s not true. Navy is one of the closest-knit forces in the world. Nobody says nothing unless they’re supposed to. And there’s no possible way that anybody on that submarine would have ever told anything. Yes, one person did call his Dad. And that person called Jim Sanders, who wrote The Downing of Flight TWA 800. But that was the only one who said anything.

B: Which missile was it?

J: I don’t know. But it was one that was aimed at a drone. And when they launched it, the drone was between TWA 800 and the submarine. And for some reason, when the missile was launched it lost - instantaneous, just for an instant - a lock on the drone. And when it reacquired a lock, it reacquired TWA 800. And when it went through TWA 800, it went through first class, you know, knocked the nose off, and caused the center tank, you know, to explode.

K: So you’re saying it was an accident.

J: It was an accident. It was a Navy accident. They were just using it for live-fire exercises.

K: Right.

J: And they had done that forever. And that was the fifth airplane - civilian airliner - that the Navy had shot down since 1963.

The first one was Flying Tiger Line, who I worked for. A Lockheed Constellation over Guam, where a Navy pilot went up and he was just doing some, you know, aiming at the airliner going by because he had nothing else to aim at, and accidentally let a missile go. And it shot down, killed everybody on board. And that accident was always, you know, “unknown causes.”

But it caused Flying Tiger Lines to be the largest cargo carrier during the Vietnam War and the Pentagon to authorize a separate Flying Tiger Airline, which was called Flying Tiger Air Services, to run the extra flights down from Japan, down to Vietnam. I mean, Flying Tigers made a fortune off that accident.
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