The Sun-Gazette deserves credit for its recent banner headlines on the filing of a new petition with the National Transportation Safety Board for re-investigation of the TWA Flight 800 crash of July 17, 1996, and Mr. Donald Nibert's ongoing quest for "the truth" about one of the most disturbing events in the nation's aviation history.
The fact that 16 young people active in the French Club of Montoursville High School and five of their chaperones perished over and in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean south of Long Island 17 years ago is appalling enough. The fact that former NTSB members and associated investigators have now charged "manipulation" of crucial evidence by the Board in its conclusion that the cause of the disaster was the ignition of fuel vapors in the Boeing 747's central fuel tank reflects on an unresolved national scandal.
Your readers may recall the FBI official in charge of the Bureau's investigation, conducted in tandem with the NTSB's own: James Kallstrom, macho, arrogant, and dismissive of more than
Two hundred eyewitness reports indicated that a missile or missiles had brought down the plane. At one point during the NTSB's four years of hearings, it was Kallstrom who told the sister of one of the victims that "a missile had in fact brought down the plane, but if you quote me, I'll deny it."
So much for the integrity of Kallstrom and the vaunted FBI. So much for the integrity of the NTSB's final report.
It was Donald Nibert, on the other hand, as Mike Reuther reported on June 22, who insisted on getting a copy of Flight 800's flight-data recording for purposes of an independent analysis. That analysis, conducted by a specialist in Colorado named Glen Schulz, apparently proved that four seconds of the recording had been deleted.
Whatever the reservations of his fellow survivors about "re-opening old wounds," Mr. Nibert's determination to uncover the truth about the crash that took his daughter Cheryl's life deserves the moral support of all Americans. The principles at stake? Without truth in such unsettling cases, there is no justice. Without justice, there is no accountability. And without accountability, there is nothing that can credibly be described as "closure."
H.C. (Harry) Nash
Submitted by E-Mail