On that CIA "Zoom Climb"


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publius
December 23, 2003, 09:15 PM
I have some questions about that video, such as: what was the CIA doing involved in a crash investigation? Did they consult anyone who knows anything about flight? A 747 is simply not going to climb 3,000 feet without the enormous lifting force of its wings, and wings only work on planes that are properly balanced.

Anyway, it looks like the lie may be unraveled. Read on...

http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=36103

Airline captain takes NTSB to court
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Posted: December 12, 2003
1:00 a.m. Eastern

©_2003_WorldNetDaily.com


On Monday, Dec. 15, retired United Airlines Capt. Ray Lahr takes his case against the National Transportation Safety Board to court, the last adversary this unlikely activist ever expected to face.

Lahr has no illusion about the challenge he faces, but he is focusing his attack on the most vulnerable point of the NTSB's defense – what he calls "the zoom-climb scenario" – and he has marshaled some impressive forces to help breach it.

The government first advanced this scenario six years earlier – Nov. 18, 1997, to be precise. That was the day that the FBI closed the criminal case on TWA Flight 800 and did so in a dramatic fashion. It was also the day that forever changed Lahr's life.

To negate the stubborn testimony of some 270 FBI eyewitnesses who had sworn they saw a flaming, smoke-trailing, zigzagging object ascend, arc over and destroy TWA Flight 800 off the coast of Long Island, the FBI showed a video prepared by the CIA.

The video had all the grace of a Cold War jeremiad on atomic fallout. The music was ominous, the narration overbearing, the graphics cheesy and anachronistic. "The following program was produced by the Central Intelligence Agency," said the narrator at the outset, with more pride in ownership than seems right for any government agency, let alone a secret one.

The narrator explained there had been three major theories as to what brought down TWA 800: bomb, missile or mechanical failure. Of particular concern to investigators were reports "from dozens of eyewitnesses" who saw objects in the sky usually described as flares or fireworks.

"Was it a missile?" asks the narrator? "Did foreign terrorists destroy the aircraft?" The answer is quick in coming: No – "What the witnesses saw was a Boeing 747 in various stages of crippled flight." The CIA wanted the audience to come away with one understanding. And this was stated explicitly on screen: "The Eyewitnesses Did Not See a Missile."

The video climaxed with an animation purporting to show what the eyewitnesses did see. According to the CIA, the nose of the aircraft blew off from an internal explosion. "The explosion, although very loud was not seen by any known eyewitness." Not one.

TWA Flight 800 then allegedly "pitched up abruptly and climbed several thousand feet from its last recorded altitude of about 13,800 feet to a maximum altitude of about 17,000 feet." The CIA video claimed this was what the eyewitnesses had seen – not missiles, but a rocketing, nose-less 747 trailing fire.

Ray Lahr, comfortably retired in Malibu, had been following the investigation into TWA Flight 800 from the day it happened on July 17, 1996. He had a professional interest. For the last 20 of his "32 wonderful years" with United Airlines, he had served as a West Coast safety representative for the Air Line Pilots Association. In that position, he had participated in eight major crash investigations, all of which, in Lahr's opinion, had been "expertly managed" by the National Transportation Safety Board.

Soon after the TWA 800 crash, however, he realized that the open, honest process he had known no longer existed. Although the FBI would never declare the incident a crime, its agents were illegally controlling the investigation. NTSB investigators were forced to leak information as there was no other way to surface it. When a trusted colleague showed Lahr one bit of leaked evidence, an FAA radar tape of an unknown object traveling at 1,200 knots "and converging with TWA 800," Lahr's interest in the case was definitely piqued.

Lahr, however, trusted his government implicitly. He owed his career to it, and an excellent career it was. He had joined the U.S. Navy cadet program a week out of high school at the height of World War II and got his wings in 1946. He hired on with United Airlines in 1953 and made captain in 1965. In 1975, he received the Air Safety award from ALPA, its highest honor. An engineer by training, Lahr also designed and patented the Jeppesen computer, which is widely used by airline pilots.

Until Nov. 18, 1997, Lahr was content to dabble in Southern California real estate and perfect his tennis game. Life had treated him, his wife Jacqueline, and his three children well. If there were a less likely candidate to become an "anti-government" activist and "conspiracy theorist," it is hard to imagine who that candidate might be.

And then Lahr saw the video. He could not believe what he was seeing. The video struck him as false in every detail. For all of his side ventures and hobbies, Lahr admits, "My real interest is in gravity." It had been for a long time. Until he began his safety work with ALPA, Lahr had been working extensively at UCLA on a gravity research project. From the moment he saw the video, he believed its zoom-climb hypothesis to be "impossible," and he set out to prove it.

Ray Lahr went looking for answers. He wanted to know what calculations the NTSB and the CIA had used to come to their conclusion that TWA Flight 800 zoomed upwards 3,200 feet after it lost its nose, and he was entirely willing to work within the system. Lahr began by exchanging letters with NTSB Chairman Jim Hall – 14 in all. Despite the NTSB's public mission, Hall proved adamant about refusing to release any information.

Lahr tried to communicate with Dennis Crider, the NTSB technician who worked singly on the project, but Crider stonewalled him. In fact, Crider kept his data to himself, a violation, says Lahr, "of all of the rules of accident investigation." Without independent verification, the data offered pilots and engineers no clue as to how to deal with comparable incidents in the future.

Ever patient, Lahr submitted separate Freedom of Information Act requests to the NTSB and the CIA. The CIA told him it had used data and conclusions provided by the NTSB. The NTSB told him that it could not release information because it was proprietary to Boeing. And Boeing, from day one, had testily distanced itself from the conclusions drawn by the CIA.

"Boeing was not involved in the production of the video shown today, nor have we had the opportunity to obtain a copy or fully understand the data used to create it," said the company in its immediate response to the CIA animation.

The NTSB was trifling with the wrong person. As a former chairman on the ALPA Aircraft Evaluation Committee, Lahr knew the rules of the game. As he observes, "There is no legitimate proprietary information in the operation and performance of an airline." Pilots have to know an aircraft's capabilities.

Lahr appealed the NTSB's decision, but after several rebuffs, he was advised that the only remaining recourse was a lawsuit. With the largely pro-bono assistance of attorney John Clarke, Lahr is now taking his case against the National Transportation Safety Board to the United States District Court in Los Angeles on Dec. 15.

The congenial, youthful Lahr has done an excellent job pulling the sometimes-fractious TWA 800 community together to assist him. Many key people have filed sworn affidavits with Lahr, including retired Rear Adm. Clarence Hill, and their collective commentary has to impress even the most skeptical of observers.

Lahr persuaded one key witness, James Holtsclaw, to go public for the first time. In 1996, Holtsclaw was serving as the Deputy Assistant for the Western Region of the Air Transport Association. On July 25, 1996, one week after the disaster, it was Holtsclaw who gave United Airlines pilot Dick Russell a copy of the radar tape recorded at New York Terminal Radar Approach Control. This is the same tape that got Pierre Salinger involved in the case and eventually ruined his career and reputation. Holtsclaw knows it to be "authentic" because he received it directly from an NTSB investigator frustrated by its suppression.

"The tape shows a primary target at 1,200 knots converging with TWA 800, during the climb out phase of TWA 800," swears Holtsclaw on the affidavit. "Primary target" simply means an object without a transponder. Although Holtsclaw estimates the object's speed, his estimate falls within the likely range of a missile.

Lahr also recruited retired Air Force Col. Lawrence Pence to his cause. "I find [the CIA scenario] highly unlikely, incredible. With the loss of a wing, with the loss of its pilots, cockpit and front end, I believe that [the aircraft] would have tumbled, tolled and basically dropped like a stone," argues Pence, who spent most of his career in intelligence, dealing with missile and space issues. "And this is exactly what the radar data that has subsequently been looked at says happened."

Physicist Thomas Stalcup, Ph.D., has reviewed most if not all of that radar data. "The radar data," swears Stalcup in his affidavit, "indicate that Flight 800 began an immediate descent and northward turn immediately after losing electrical power."

Several of the eyewitnesses Lahr has gathered have verified Pence's stone-falling thesis. One is Maj. Fritz Meyer, a winner of the Distinguished Flying Cross. Meyer stared the explosion in his face from his Air National Guard helicopter about 10 miles away:

When that airplane blew up, it immediately began falling. It came right out of the sky. From the first moment it was going down. It never climbed. The thought that this aircraft could climb was laughable. ... If you shot a duck with a full load of buck it came down like that. It came down like a stone.

Master Chief Petty Officer Dwight Brumley also volunteered his testimony to Lahr. A 25-year U.S. Navy vet with top security clearance and hands-on experience with missile exercises, Brumley was flying as a passenger on the right side of US AIR 217. The plane was flying north at 21,000 feet and was just moments from intersecting TWA 800's flight path when Brumley observed a "flare" moving parallel to US AIR 217 ... but faster:

During the approximately 7 to 10 seconds I observed the "flare," it appeared to be climbing. It then pitched over and then just after the apex (one to two seconds at most) a small explosion appeared in the center of the "flare." The body of the explosion was spherical in shape and then suddenly grew much bigger and then began to elongate as it appeared to be headed downward, growing larger as it descended.

Brumley's "flare" was moving at nearly a right angle to TWA Flight 800. In addition to Brumley, Meyer and others, Lahr has entered the testimony of two critical witnesses whose testimony has been largely overlooked. On the subject of the CIA animation, however, no witnesses are more critical than the two pilots of an Eastwind Flight 507 from Boston to Trenton, First Officer Vincent Fuschetti and Capt. David McCLaine.

The Eastwind pilots were about to begin a slow descent to Trenton when they first spotted TWA Flight 800, then some 60 miles away on this "crystal clear" night. McClaine described the plane with its landing lights still on as "definitely the brightest light in the sky." As Flight 800 approached them at a slightly lower altitude and began crossing its path from right to left, McClaine flicked on his own inboard landing light to signal to the pilots of TWA 800 that he and Fuschetti had the aircraft in sight.

Just as he flicked on his light, wrote McClaine in his report to Eastwind Airline immediately after the crash, "The other aircraft exploded into a very large ball of flames." At this point, the two aircraft were less than 20 miles apart. "Almost immediately," observed McClaine, "two flaming objects, with flames trailing about 4,000 feet behind them, fell out of the bottom of the ball of flame." Within 10 seconds of witnessing the explosion, McClaine called in the explosion to Boston air-traffic control. He was the first one to do so. The FBI knew this by day two:

Eastwind: "We just saw an explosion out here, Stinger Bee 507 (Dave McClaine, Captain, Eastwind Airlines)"

Controller: "Stinger Bee 507, I'm sorry I missed it ... did you say something else."

Eastwind: "We just saw an explosion up ahead of us here, somewhere about 16,000 feet or something like that. It just went down – in the water."

The reader does well to recall the postulate on which, the infamous CIA video is based: No eyewitnesses saw the initial explosion. This was a lie – there is no nice way to describe it – and the CIA knew it. Fuschetti and McClaine both witnessed the initial explosion. The crew of two other airliners immediately confirmed their sightings. Brumley and Meyer saw the initial explosion as well. At a minimum, eight unimpeachable, experienced, airborne eyewitnesses saw the first blast and from a variety of different angles.

The CIA lied to protect its bizarre timeline. As the CIA told the story, the plane suffered an invisible center fuel tank explosion, lost its nose four seconds later, zoom-climbed an additional 3,200 feet and only then broke into two distinct fireballs, "more than 42 seconds" after the initial blast.

Compare the CIA story with Eastwind First Officer Fuschetti's testimony. "At the onset of the explosion, the fireball spread horizontally then spilt into two columns of fire, which immediately began to fall slowly towards the water below." Lest anyone misinterpret him, Fuschetti adds, "At no time did I see any vertical travel of the aircraft after the explosion occurred."

The CIA's fiery climb was necessary to explain away the hundreds of claims from eyewitnesses on the ground. It does not, however, account for what McClaine and Fuschetti saw. They saw the plane clearly at every stage.

Although McClaine and Fuschetti could not see a missile streak from their angle, they undoubtedly saw the first explosion and the immediate plunge of the plane into the sea. Indeed, McClaine was telling Boston air-traffic control that the plane "just went down – in the water" within 10 to 15 seconds of that first blast.

This may well explain why the NTSB never interviewed Fuschetti and did not interview McClaine until March 25, 1999, nearly a year and a half after the FBI closed the criminal case with a showing of the CIA video. "You are a very key person as far as we are concerned," said Robert Young, TWA's representative on the NTSB witness group, "because you were the only person that was looking at it at the time."

Although McClaine was by no means the "only person," Young's acknowledgement boldly refutes the CIA claim that no one had seen the initial explosion. Young, at least, wanted this to be known. He asked McClaine whether there were any noticeable climbing angle changes before or after. Answered McClaine, "None at all."

"I didn't see it pitch up, no," McClaine elaborated. "Everything ended right there at that explosion as far as I'm concerned." When McClaine ironically ventured a far-fetched scenario that could have resulted in the CIA's zoom-climb, Young responded in the same spirit, "We'd be cutting new trails in aviation if we could do that." Young, however, was in no position to convert irony into action, and he knew it. The die had already been cast.

Still, Young did not give up. A few weeks after its interview with McClaine, the NTSB witness group managed to secure an interview with the two CIA analysts responsible for the video, now a full 18 months after the video's sole showing. Young badgered the chief analyst, then unidentified, with McClaine's testimony.

"If [the nose-less plane] had ascended," Young asked the analyst rhetorically, "[McClaine] would have been concerned because it ascended right through his altitude." When the analyst tried to deflect the question, Young continued, "I think he would have noticed it. Your analysis has it zooming to above his altitude."

"It's a very critical point that it's not critical precisely how high that plane went," the CIA analyst bluffed before pulling out his trump card. "Even if the plane went up several thousand feet on the ground there's maybe one witness that saw that, this guy on the bridge."

When pressed, the analyst could cite only one person who actually saw the zoom-climb, "the guy on the bridge." Ray Lahr has marshaled his testimony as well. His name is Mike Wire, a millwright from Philadelphia and a U.S. Army vet. And how did the "guy on the bridge" feel about the CIA video?

"When I first saw the scenario, I thought they used it just as a story to pacify the general public," attests Wire, "because it didn't represent what I had testified to the agent I saw out there."

What Wire saw was an object streaking up off the horizon and zigzagging out to sea at a 45-degree angle. For the record, the CIA analysts or the FBI fully fabricated the interview in which Wire was alleged to have changed his mind about what he saw. No such "second interview" ever took place.

In the last six years, Ray Lahr has talked to many of the eyewitnesses and many other experts as well. He has put more than $10,000 of his own money into the investigation and countless hours of his time. On Monday, he gets his first day in court.

The government has potentially two witnesses on its side, neither of them particularly credible. One is Dennis Crider, the beleaguered NTSB technician, who has refused to share his unique knowledge of the cryptic zoom-climb calculations. The other is the CIA analyst, now proudly identified by the CIA as Randolph Tauss, who first conjured up the zoom-climb hypothesis

Tauss's own account of how he came to this conclusion speaks eloquently about the Rube Goldberg quality of the government's case. At the April 1999 interview with the NTSB, Tauss traced his eureka moment to the precise hour of 10 p.m. on Dec. 30, 1996. Said Tauss, "There was a realization, having all the data laid out in front of me, that you can explain what the eyewitnesses are seeing with only the burning aircraft."

For all the talk of interagency cooperation, the FBI had lent witness statements to the CIA in small, frustrating batches, starting with "30 or 40" out of more than 700. Tauss, in fact, came to his startling conclusion after reviewing only about 12 percent of the interview statements, many of these hasty and slapdash in the first place. Tauss did not speak to a single eyewitness. Scary as it sounds, he won an "intelligence medal" for his work.

The NTSB could not afford to test Tauss's zoom-climb hypothesis. Its case depends fully upon it. Without the hypothesis, there is no explanation for what those 270 eyewitnesses saw other than the obvious – namely missiles streaking upwards toward TWA Flight 800. If Lahr can publicly undermine the zoom-climb hypothesis, he can possibly force open the case.

No one individual has more cause to be dissatisfied with the glacially slow revelation of truth in this case than Lahr. But he has not given up faith. In fact, he has not yet even begun to fight.

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Destructo6
December 24, 2003, 12:21 AM
When a trusted colleague showed Lahr one bit of leaked evidence, an FAA radar tape of an unknown object traveling at 1,200 knots "and converging with TWA 800," Lahr's interest in the case was definitely piqued.
Kinda slow for a SAM, which should be going in the mach2-3 neighborhood and whose motor should have already burned out at that altitude, making it virtually invisible.

M1911Owner
December 24, 2003, 01:00 AM
1,200 kts is Mach 2, or pretty close.

Also, I would think that ATC radar doesn't measure the vertical component of the velocity vector, which would likely have been large for a missle traveling upward to meet a target. So, if the radar registered 1,200 kts, it would likely have been traveling quite a bit faster than 1,200 kts.

Stealth101
December 24, 2003, 01:26 AM
Is it possible that this is somehow accidental friendly fire? Could that be why the government has gone to such lengths to cover this up....the other scenario that strikes me, is that it was indeed a terrorist act ....I once read that an El- Al flight had originally been schedualed in that time slot... the fear of the fragile airline industry, and the affect on the economy, causes the hush....thank God for this man and his desire to see the truth served !

publius
December 24, 2003, 06:03 AM
Destructo,

I'm not sure what that object was. I'm guessing it was a missile just because so very few things go 1200 knots. Also, from my days as a flight instructor, I can tell you that going that fast below 10,000, if you are able to do so, will get you a speeding ticket. So will creating a sonic boom.

Anyway, the main point is, a 747 without a nose would not be balanced. It would pitch up violently when relieved of all that forward weight, resulting in the wings stalling, and then it would fall from the sky. There is no way it would gracefully zoom upwards for another 3000 feet without a nose.

Stealth, friendly fire is a plausible explanation, as is terrorist fire. Either one is a heck of a lot more likely than a "zoom climb." I can barely even type "zoom climb" without LMAO.

UnknownSailor
December 24, 2003, 06:34 AM
publius

I recommend yo uread First Strike: TWA Flight 800 and the Attack on America by Jack Cashill and James Sanders. You will never believe the official government story again after doing so.

publius
December 24, 2003, 06:42 AM
Too late! I haven't read the book, though I've read many articles on the subject by those folks. But I already don't believe the government line.

A 747 without a nose is a 747 without wings. It can't climb.

Leatherneck
December 24, 2003, 08:18 AM
A 747 without a nose is a 747 without wings. It can't climb. Sure it can. It will convert whatever airspeed (kinetic energy) it has to altitude (potential energy) until it stalls the wings, then it will go into post-stall gyrations and/or break up.

I've never believed the conspiracy theory involving a massive cover-up of a friendly missile firing gone astray. Too many people involved to believe some little scrap of evidence wouldn't have been heard by now, especially with the death of flight 800 so public.

Can't dismiss a terrorist attack quite so easily. :scrutiny:

TC
TFL Survivor

Waitone
December 24, 2003, 10:37 AM
A plane will fly when the center of gravity is in front of the wings. Losing the cabin forward of the wings shifted the center of gravity back. In reality the remaining fusilage (?sp) would flutter like a leaf. Maybe the engines were firing, maybe not but in any case there would have been no directional stability.

Two factoids have bothered me about the official report. First, the CIA video. Why did the CIA get involved in an animation?

Second. Why did the FBI muscle in and control the incident when it is the responsibility of the NTSB to investigate plane crashes.

Mute
December 24, 2003, 11:07 AM
I don't believe in conspiracies or tin foil hats, but this incident and the investigative results stink to high heaven. I don't care what happened to that plane, it is not going to climb another 3000 feet after an explosion.

Pebcac
December 24, 2003, 11:35 AM
The fact of CIA involvement sends up red flags all by itself - CIA has no charter for any field operations inside US borders, and no statutory involvement whatsoever in a civil airline crash investigation. NTSB and FBI are supposed to be the only players, and FBI only when there's evidence to suggest criminal activity.

I've never been much for the tinfoil hat stuff. I think Oswald killed JFK all by his lonesome trigger, I don't believe aliens landed in Roswell, and I don't think Roosevelt allowed Pearl Harbor to be bombed. But this item here stinks.

dog3
December 24, 2003, 12:05 PM
Good reference material on this and other such things is included in
the anthology "Into the Buzzsaw" compiled by Kristina Borjesson
(an investigative reporter who got blackballed because of her
work on this incident). Subtitled "Leading Journalists Expose the
Myth of a Free Press" the isbn is 1573929727

Wanna know? read. Once you've read, check the references, once
you've checked the references, check those references.

It's a damning piece of work.

For those of you who "Don't belive in conspiracies", check the
facts.

MrFreeze
December 24, 2003, 12:26 PM
Zoom climbs, magic bullets, what's next? :evil:

Just because you're not paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you.

Travis

TallPine
December 24, 2003, 12:37 PM
Anyone ever hear what the conclusion was on Flight 587 ? (I think that's the correct number - the one that turned into a frisbee shortly after takeoff in New York, and started throwing tails and engines every which way)

Witnesses (some retired police/firefighters) reported seeing an explosion just before the plane began coming apart.

My guess is that it was "Shoebomber #1" - Richard Reid being #2 who got caught.

Sergeant Bob
December 24, 2003, 12:47 PM
TallPine Anyone ever hear what the conclusion was on Flight 587 ?
Excellent question. I don't think I've heard anything about a cause for the crash. So far all I know is it was caused by gravity.
It crashed, made the 6 O'clock news, then..........WTH???

Destructo6
December 24, 2003, 12:52 PM
It's only about 1.6mach at that altitude.

Mr Grinch
December 24, 2003, 03:03 PM
The CIA tape was made from Flight Data Recorder information. If the aircraft blew up due to a fuel tank explosion due to pump or airconditioning pack overheat, then the static system that provides the input data on airspeed and altitude could easily show large, erroneous data inputs.

Could a 747 losing most of it's mass forward pitch up and climb? You bet. Could it convert 340 knots into 3000 feet? Don't know, it seems that it could be easily quantifiable from testing. Add the instrument error and the pitch up, it seems you could wind up with a data record that shows a climb.

You give me 270 witnesses that saw something, and I'll take the data over their observations every time. Witnesses are notoriously unreliable. as are media reports on the matter.

Grinch

TallPine
December 24, 2003, 03:35 PM
The CIA tape was made from Flight Data Recorder information.
Since when is the CIA the expert on interpreting flight data recorder information?

Might as well get the Forest Service to do it.

Zak Smith
December 24, 2003, 06:55 PM
Following up on Mr Grinch's post,

If we assume 100% of the forward velocity was changed to potential energy (which is an unrealistic assumption), 340 knots could be changed into about 5100feet of altitude, using the simple m*v^2/2 = m*g*h calculation.

-z

TallPine
December 24, 2003, 08:20 PM
The broken off open front end of the fuselage wouldn't be very aerodynamic.

About like a parachute.

UnknownSailor
December 24, 2003, 11:31 PM
The CIA tape was made from Flight Data Recorder information.

This may be true, but how can anyone independently verify that, when the feds refuse to release the data from the last few seconds the recorder was operating?

This is all explained in the book I referenced in an earlier post.

jimpeel
December 24, 2003, 11:34 PM
No mention of the Naval training excercise which was taking part in the area. What happened to that part of the equation? :confused:

Destructo6
December 25, 2003, 12:21 AM
No mention of the Naval training excercise which was taking part in the area. What happened to that part of the equation?
You wouldn't actually believe that the US Navy could accidentally shoot down a 747 and keep it a secret, would you? Anybody who's been in the military knows that there's always 5% or more of the folks in any command that are under hack and would be more than willing to spill their guts if they had anything damaging to say, especially if it might get them out of the service with something better than the big chicken dinner.

JeffS
December 25, 2003, 12:38 AM
It can only convert the kenetic energy to climb 3000 feet if the lift from the wings stopped at the same moment the front section fell off. What you are describing is to essentially convert the aerodynamics of a 747 into a rocket. It can be done but not with the wing configuration it has.

Also, moving at over 300 knots with the front section gone and the interior of the fuselage exposed to the airstream, an overpressurization would occur ripping the fuselage apart.

The CIA tape only proves that CIA analysist don't make good physicists. Of course, the NTSB did say that conclusive proof of the center fuel tank explosion was elusive too. I'd say the accident still hasn't gone beyond the first stage of determining missile, bomb, mechanical, or pilot error.

I also will venture to say here that I discount the US Navy missile trials as the least likely. There is no way this country can shutup sailors this long. Particularly if Clinton was the one issuing the gag order.

jimpeel
December 25, 2003, 03:30 AM
I was simply wondering why the exercises were never mentioned. The old adage of "three can keep a secret when two are dead" surely comes to play when you have literally hundreds of sailors, and their consciences, thrown into the mix.

HankB
December 25, 2003, 09:50 AM
On the topic of "friendly fire" . . . when a SAM on a ship is fired, EVERYONE on the ship knows it. Most everyone in the rest of the battlegroup knows it, too. Given the downing of a US commercial aircraft, I don't believe hundreds, perhaps thousands, of sailors could've been kept quiet, especially considering that the odds are some of them would know surviving family members of the downed victims.

As far as an "accidental" spark inside the fuel tank causing the blow-up . . . I don't believe that, either.

Stealth101
December 25, 2003, 04:00 PM
Her is a link to web sites that has some very intresting data!

www.twa800.com

http://flight800.org/

I also think it is intresting that the Navy was doing training exersises in proximity......while not a definate smoking gun....an intresting coincidence!....some feel that it was a Sam and not a stinger !

publius
December 25, 2003, 07:33 PM
The CIA tape was made from Flight Data Recorder information.

So this part of the article I posted is false? OK, got a link for the truth?

Ray Lahr went looking for answers. He wanted to know what calculations the NTSB and the CIA had used to come to their conclusion that TWA Flight 800 zoomed upwards 3,200 feet after it lost its nose, and he was entirely willing to work within the system. Lahr began by exchanging letters with NTSB Chairman Jim Hall – 14 in all. Despite the NTSB's public mission, Hall proved adamant about refusing to release any information.

Lahr tried to communicate with Dennis Crider, the NTSB technician who worked singly on the project, but Crider stonewalled him. In fact, Crider kept his data to himself, a violation, says Lahr, "of all of the rules of accident investigation." Without independent verification, the data offered pilots and engineers no clue as to how to deal with comparable incidents in the future.

Ever patient, Lahr submitted separate Freedom of Information Act requests to the NTSB and the CIA. The CIA told him it had used data and conclusions provided by the NTSB. The NTSB told him that it could not release information because it was proprietary to Boeing. And Boeing, from day one, had testily distanced itself from the conclusions drawn by the CIA.

agricola
December 26, 2003, 02:55 AM
jimpeel,

I'd tend to follow your viewpoint - Governments do not tend to cover-up terrorist attacks, and we have seen no follow-up attacks nor any claims of responsibility (one would expect there to be some if they had pulled this off).

Like stealth says, you give 270 different people 270 different views of the same scenario and you get 270 different opinions on what happened.

Ryder
December 26, 2003, 04:02 AM
Why did the CIA get involved

Uhhhhm... So that mention of the Navy missle frigate on a training mission in the vicinity would cease to appear in these stories? Just a guess. It might re-appear in the next one for all I know.

jimpeel
December 26, 2003, 04:14 AM
They say that a stinger would not have been able to loft as high as the aircraft as it was out of its range. That is true if it were fired from the ground. If it were fired from a small aircraft, however ...

Ryder
December 26, 2003, 04:48 AM
They say

I'm either hard of hearing or practicing selective listening cause I can't remember believing anything the government has told me for a longgg time.

publius
December 26, 2003, 01:19 PM
Sure it can. It will convert whatever airspeed (kinetic energy) it has to altitude (potential energy) until it stalls the wings, then it will go into post-stall gyrations and/or break up.



You are correct. I guess I should have said, it won't gracefully climb 3000 feet like the CIA says it did.

I've got a half dozen hours in a 727-200 full-motion, full visual simulator. Among other things, I got to stall a 727. If you just jerk the yoke back, it'll gain altitude and then stall all right, but not any 3000 feet. Much less.

With all the drag created by the loss of the nose, and with the dramatic pitch up that could be expected, I just think TWA 800 probably climbed very little, if at all, after the loss of the nose section.

The CIA saying anything about a plane crash makes me suspicious. It would be so even if they said something completely plausible. What they said is, to me, completely implausible.

From another article on the same subject (http://www.WorldNetDaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=24036):
According to the Boeing data, the aircraft weighed 574,000 lbs. before nose separation. The nose weighed 79,394 lbs. The center-of-gravity was at 21.1 percent MAC before nose separation. After nose separation it was at 57.8 percent MAC. This means that the center-of-gravity moved from about one foot in front of the center-of-lift to about 11 behind it, a profound shift.

The sudden shift created a huge nose-up torque of about 6,000,000 ft-lbs. As Lahr notes, "It would be like putting both people on the same side of a teeter-totter." The aircraft would have pitched through 45 degrees in two seconds and would have kept right on going. According to Lahr, the most the 747 could have climbed before stalling at 25 degrees and going into free fall was about 200 feet.

M1911Owner
December 26, 2003, 02:54 PM
I did some model rocketry when I was a kid. One of the factors you have to take into account in designing a model rocket is keeping the center of mass forward of the aerodynamic center of the design. Otherwise, the design is unstable, and will try to fly back-end-first.

The same thing applies to an airplane. If the center of mass is behind the aerodynamic center of the vehicle, the aerodynamic forces will cause it to quickly flip end-over-end, so that it starts trying to fly with the tail pointing forward.

I don't know how strong the TWA aircraft was, but I doubt that it would be able to turn end-over-end without breaking up.

Hence, loss of the nose section would be expected to cause the aircraft to tumble end-over-end, with the probable immediate disintegration of the airframe.

publius
December 27, 2003, 06:31 AM
The situation is similar, 1911, but a rocket is lifted from the rear end by thrust from the motor(s). Very few airplanes have more thrust than weight. The engine is just there to move it forward, and most of the lifting force comes from the wings.

For those who may still be confused by all this, the quotation in my last post about a teeter-totter (I always called it a see-saw) really illustrates the problem with the CIA's explanation of TWA 800. Think of the wings as the support in the middle of the see-saw. Although the wings are long and swept back, you can think of all their lifting force as being concentrated in one place, just like the support on the see-saw, and we call that place the center of lift.

Airplanes are always built and loaded so that their center of gravity is forward of the center of lift. Translation: if your see saw is shaped like an airplane, the heavier person is sitting on the nose of the airplane, the lighter one on the tail. During normal flight, that smaller wing on the tail of the airplane is always pulling downwards, which is kind of like putting a weight belt on the lighter person. It produces a balanced see-saw or airplane.

OK, so you've got your heavy person and your light person wearing his weight belt. In the case of TWA 800, what happened was, the heavy person jumped off! :what: The effect on a 747 of losing the nose would be nearly as pronounced. One moment, it's balanced. The next moment, it's really, really not balanced.

Meanwhile, for that moment at least, the wings are still pushing upward with the same amount of force. Problem is, they can only do that so long as air is flowing reasonably smoothly over both the top and the bottom of the wing. As soon as the wing is tilted far enough, relative to the oncoming air, that air is just hitting the bottom side of it, and can no longer go smoothly around the leading edge and across the top side of it, that wing quits lifting the airplane at all, and becomes a giant anchor. :what: again.

That, my novice friends who are still reading, is what is called "stalling" an airplane. If it happens to one wing, but not the other, you'll have lift on one side of the plane, an anchor on the other, and the result is what's called "spinning" an airplane. It's good fun, but very hard on airplanes and their gyroscopes, even those that are built for it.

A 747 is definitely not built for it. With no pilots present to make sure that both wings stalled at the same time, it is most likely that they did not. Moments after the nose departed, flight 800 entered a spin and broke up. I know it. Anyone who knows anything about aviation knows it.

TheeBadOne
December 27, 2003, 07:00 AM
The Gubberment!

Ok, now that I got that out of the way ( :p ), I've not seen once credible bit of evidence to support a missle theory. Much of the stuff put forward as fact by people who say that happened has been debunked quite well. I've watched a couple documentaries on this incident. A bunch of "witnesses" doesn't hold too much water in this case. (At least not with some/any/a bit of physical evidence.

Origionally posted by JimPeel:
They say that a stinger would not have been able to loft as high as the aircraft as it was out of its range. That is true if it were fired from the ground. If it were fired from a small aircraft, however ...
Care to explain the application of said missle from a moving small aircraft?

publius
December 27, 2003, 07:07 AM
Got any shred of credible evidence that the zoom climb that the CIA says happened is physically possible? I'd sure be interested in seeing that.

artherd
December 27, 2003, 07:19 AM
Withought re-hashing it all, publis is 100% correct on all counts of aircraft behavior. It would have gone instantly unstable, pitched up, and spun. All in about the time it took you to read that.

Now, this object closing at 1200KTS. That'd be ground speed coming from radar. Pretty quick, but not missile quick. Missiles travel much faster (we can discount the Stinger, because it's range really is outside of that engaugement envalope. I know, I worked for a company who built parts for the stinger, and the Sidewinder.)

Most missiles travel in the Mach 3 range, some are as high as mach 4 or 5.

Now, a fighter aircraft is well within the 1200KTS speed range. And at 30,000+feet they are all but invisible. (no whitnesses.) Plus going mach with impunity is easy if you are over water, and headed away from land.



Did we shoot down our own aircraft?


Did we actually think it was the El-Al flight and GOOF UP? Would it have been the CIA carrying out such an operation in (barely) international watters? Has the CIA just test-fired a Hellfire (albit an air-grounder) from a Predator UAV?

I don't know, but I'm not prepared to rule it out. And that answers an uncomfortable number of questions about the incident.

I do know the Hellfire story is true.

publius
December 27, 2003, 07:40 AM
Our missile? Someone else's? A bomb? Maybe. Maybe even a wire in a fuel tank, though I rather doubt it.

In any case, this thread isn't really about that. What we know is: the CIA produced this video. That by itself is kind of strange. The video has this really implausible scenario. It just plain couldn't happen.

What I want to know is: why was the CIA lying to us about this particular plane crash? And why such a lame lie? I mean, it's crazy. When my government does something crazy in an incident where hundreds died, I want to know why.

artherd
December 27, 2003, 09:03 AM
publius- the usual reasons I am sure.

1) We did it for 'reasons of national security'. Ie, they thought we were protecting the greater intrests of the country, or someone's ajenda or ???. Who the hell knows, maybe there was an unspeakable threat onboard that plane that really had to go down. Maybe the CIA just thought so. Maybe it was a more sinister reason, or no reason at all. Maybe somebody had proof that Regan was an alien, who knows. Well, the CIA do, but they're not talking.

2) They thought they could get away with it. The 'zoom climb' sounded right and technical enough for the CIA director at the time, so it went out. OOOPS, it didn't stand up to professional public scrutiney. Can't exactly backpedal can they? So they do what they do best. Lie. More. And harder this time. Try and convince people to play into their hand. The CIA are professional bull???? artists, their JOB is to convince people into playing into their hand willingly. Often this is done with the best intrests of said parties, ah, poorly considered, to say the least. There is a very good reason the CIA has no dommestic charter! (offically.)

publius
December 27, 2003, 09:52 AM
I've considered possibility #1. If I'm the President, and I know that we'd be in grave danger if a 747 reaches its destination, I'd do what I could to make sure it didn't arrive. Of course, if I'm President Clinton, I'm too busy playing with cigars and interns, but that's another story....

On #2, it's just shocking incompetence. I thought our spooks were supposed to be better than that. All they had to do was to ask one reasonably experienced pilot what happens when a 747 loses its nose.

UnknownSailor
December 27, 2003, 04:10 PM
For those considering the possibility that the center wing tank blew up just as the Government said it did.....don't.

When the investigators went to try to recreate the accident, with a certer wing tank placed on a test stand, it could NOT be made to blow up without adding external stuff that wasn't mounted on TWA flight 800 at the time of the incident. The "stuff" in question was a spark-plug. And, to make matters worse, when the tank did "explode", it merely blew out (not off) one side of the tank, like a tire. The big, dramatic explosion that supposedly blew the nose right off the airframe was NOT made by the center wing tank blowing up.

org
December 27, 2003, 04:50 PM
ATC radar would never see anything as small as a missile. Most of the time they can't even get a skin paint on an airplane and rely on the transponder to see it.

At 340K a climb of 3000 feet would be easy. The airplane pitches up, increasing the angle of attack initially and it goes up until it either stalls or breaks up. But how far? Don't know and suspect the flight recorder didn't either. Sure, it's out of balance. That wouldn't stop the initial climb.

As was previously noted, all bets are off on the recording equipment when the nose comes off.

Three people can't keep a secret. Dozens to hundreds????

Do I know anything about aviation? Probably not, but I've got seven type ratings (4 in transport jets) and 17,000 hours. Does that make me right? Not necessarily, but it gives me the background to make a guess based on what little evidence we really have. My guess is that the fuel tank blew up, and the airplane pitched up and climbed for a number of seconds. The engines probably kept running for at least a short time, which may or may not have aided in the climb. The teeter totter theory ignores the fact that the tail was still there resisting and slowing the pitchup. The tail wouldn't have stopped it, but would have kept it from being an instantaneous thing.

publius
December 27, 2003, 05:42 PM
Unknown Sailor,

I remember reading about that, but I can't remember where. You got a link?

Org,

Yes, the tail would resist, but a sudden increase of 6 million ft-lbs? I'd slow a train a little if I stepped in front of it.

My guess is that the fuel tank blew up, and the airplane pitched up and climbed for a number of seconds.

In case you missed it in the first post, the "number of seconds" offered by the CIA was 42. Just how long do you think the tail could resist the massive shift in CG?

Another question for ya: if you climb 3000 feet in 3/4 of a minute, you're climbing at 4000 feet per minute. How fast do the transports you're typed in climb when they're intact?

Edited for punctuation, and to ask, has anyone here ever flown a conventional aircraft where the CG was aft of the CL?

org
December 27, 2003, 06:41 PM
Pluribus, without knowing how large the cg shift was, it's hard to tell what effect the tail would have. I must admit I don't remember how much of the nose was gone. In any event, unless ripped off, the tail wouldn't allow the fuselage/wings to pitch up at any rate that could be termed instantly.

34 seconds to climb 3000 feet is no problem. The A300 climbs up to 4000fpm+ depending on load. you have to remember that this is sustained climb, though; not a zoom climb started from 340K. The DC8 performs similarly. Same caveat. It's not hard to see off the scale climb rates without pulling very hard at all from level high mach flight. It doesn't last forever, and the airspeed is dropping, but it would get you through 3000 feet of climb in (much) less than 34 seconds. This is with just a pull up to maybe 15 to 18 degrees nose up, then hold it. If the airplane was out of control due to cg shift, it would continue to pitch up and the climb rate would continue to increase until the airspeed dropped or the airplane came apart due to G forces. If the pitchup was fast enough, it would come apart quickly and if the pitchup was slower, it might not come apart at all until it stalled and started down. In the latter event, it could go up a long way, especially if the engines kept running for a while. The thing that makes all this a guess anyway is the nose being gone, and the changes in aerodynamics.

IMHO, the airplane would have come apart RIGHT NOW if the pitchup rate was extremely abrupt...the wings and tail would be gone and there would be no climb at all.

Like I said, I don't represent any of this to have happened, it's just my guess, and I'm not sure if it's much better than anyone else's. Based on what I've experienced, it seems reasonable.

I have doubts that a missile was involved at all, since there was a massive amount of damage done. A manpad would have been really stretched to even score a hit, and the warhead isn't that big. Manpads generally are heat seekers, and if the nose was blown off, the hit certainly wasn't in an engine. The recent A300 incident in Iraq would be more typical than the damage done to 800. If it was a radar missile, it would involve a tremendous amount of logistics to get a launcher with radar to the vicinity, fire it, score a hit, and escape. Not to mention keeping everyone involved quiet. The Navy? Naaaahhhh.

The remaining possibility is a bomb placed in the belly cargo pit. That's the scenario that makes sense if you eliminate the fuel tank blow up.

publius
December 27, 2003, 07:22 PM
Pluribus, without knowing how large the cg shift was, it's hard to tell what effect the tail would have.

I posted the magnitude before, but here it is again:

According to the Boeing data, the aircraft weighed 574,000 lbs. before nose separation. The nose weighed 79,394 lbs. The center-of-gravity was at 21.1 percent MAC before nose separation. After nose separation it was at 57.8 percent MAC. This means that the center-of-gravity moved from about one foot in front of the center-of-lift to about 11 behind it, a profound shift.

The sudden shift created a huge nose-up torque of about 6,000,000 ft-lbs.

If the airplane was out of control due to cg shift, it would continue to pitch up and the climb rate would continue to increase until the airspeed dropped or the airplane came apart due to G forces.

That's true, assuming the pitching stopped when the nose was pointed straight up. Of course, there's no reason to assume that it would stop.

If the pitchup was fast enough, it would come apart quickly and if the pitchup was slower, it might not come apart at all until it stalled and started down. In the latter event, it could go up a long way, especially if the engines kept running for a while.

To create a climb that would last long enough to explain away the hundreds of people who claim to have seen fire rising into the sky that night, the pitching would have to occur pretty slowly. I don't think there's any way that airplane pitched up slowly. It pitched up violently. Violently enough to cause a stall/spin, and/or violently enough to break up the airplane on the way to the impending stall/spin.

MarkDido
December 27, 2003, 08:17 PM
"Uhhhhm... So that mention of the Navy missle frigate on a training mission in the vicinity would cease to appear in these stories? Just a guess. It might re-appear in the next one for all I know."

When the Navy fires a missle during an exercise, there is a tremendous amount of off-ship assets involved. There will usually be one or more ships in the area keeping the range clear of surface craft, a NOTAM is issued to all pilots to keep out of the area (which is usually a restricted airspace area) and generally, an E-2C Hawkeye will be airborne to keep an eye on everything that's flying.

In my 23 glorious years in Uncle Sam's Canoe Club, I have never participated in a night shoot. Too many things to go wrong considering the safeguards that I've listed above.

jimpeel
December 27, 2003, 08:27 PM
The center fuel tank is located under the wings. An explosion large enough to blow off the front of the craft would also be powerful enough to blow off the wings.

Even in the event the wings stayed on, how much force, with the center undersection blown out, could they withstand especially with the added forces of the air needed to lift the craft another 3,000 feet?

Anyone remember this one?

http://www.komotv.com/news/images/tanker_crash_01.jpghttp://www.komotv.com/news/images/tanker_crash_02.jpg
http://www.komotv.com/news/images/tanker_crash_03.jpg http://www.komotv.com/news/images/tanker_crash_04.jpg

From http://www.wildlandfire.com/descr/descr_air.htm#air4
T-130 Lost: T-130 crashed on the Cannon Fire on the Humboldt Toiyabee National Forest near Walker CA on 6/17/02. Steve Wass, Craig LaBare, and Mike Davis died. We will miss them. The NTSB had not come up with a finalized report by 02/03, but went public with a preliminary probable cause of metal fatigue in the central wing box lower skin. The report said that the T6 metal planks are brittle, having small fractures like those that develop when a paperclip is bent back an forth. Age and/or use is hypothesized as creating them. The C-130s (and the PB4Ys) have been permanently grounded. KOLO-TV, a Reno NV television station captured the crash on videotape. This photo is courtesy of FOX News. Contact them for a larger version of the picture. See links below for investigation information.

publius
December 27, 2003, 08:33 PM
An explosion large enough to blow off the front of the craft would also be powerful enough to blow off the wings.


No, TWA 800's nose did blow off, but the wings did not separate at that exact time, at least, not according to anything I've read. I think they came off pretty soon afterwards, but they apparently were not blown off by whatever blew the nose off.

TheeBadOne
December 27, 2003, 08:34 PM
The Gubberment!!!

publius
December 27, 2003, 08:36 PM
I'll take that as a "no" to the question I asked you, Thee. Thanks. ;)

org
December 27, 2003, 08:44 PM
Publius, I missed that reference to the cg shift. You're right, that's a huge change. It still wouldn't create an instant pitchup. When you're moving 500,000 plus pounds, nothing occurs instantly, especially when the tail is still attached. I'd have to think that by the time the pitch through the vertical the climb would have exceeded 3000 ft.

Also, as I said before, any instant large pitch change would have taken the wings off.

publius
December 27, 2003, 08:51 PM
So org, just to be clear, you're saying that a 42 second, 3000 foot climb sounds plausible to you after the loss of the nose?

How many seconds does it take to rotate the transport aircraft you're typed in from rolling attitude to takeoff attitude when you reach decision speed?

org
December 27, 2003, 09:16 PM
To me it sounds possible. If the wings didn't come off, it indicates to me that the rotation rate was NOT instantaneous or close to it. A figure (2 seconds ?) to 45 degrees was given. If the airplane made it to 45 degrees pitch without losing the wings and tail, it wouldn't take long for a pretty formidable upward vector to be generated. If you get 500,000 pounds going up at even 250K at 45 degrees, the wings could come off and the junk would continue up for quite a while. 3000 feet of climb isn't that much at jet speeds. As for the effect of the nose being gone, ???. At that point inertia is more of a factor than aerodynamics anyway. What used to be an airplane is now so much mass on a ballistic arc, possibly influenced by what used to be wings and a tail, possibly not. Possibly it would go farther without wings than with, after the initial pitch up.

I have no idea how fast the aircraft can be rotated at liftoff, since you don't apply max deflection on the controls anyway. Recommended target rotation for the B727, DC8, and A300 are all about 3 degrees per second. This is really not applicable anyway, since liftoff isn't at 340K. I guess I don't know what you're getting at here.

publius
December 27, 2003, 09:47 PM
If the wings didn't come off, it indicates to me that the rotation rate was NOT instantaneous or close to it. A figure (2 seconds ?) to 45 degrees was given.

Pitching up 45 degrees in two seconds strikes me as pretty close to instantaneous. It also strikes me as fast enough to produce airflow separation, and maybe fast enough to rip off the tail. It's also too fast to change the velocity vector of all that mass very much. Sure, it would be pointed upward, but as you pointed out, some things don't happen all that fast. It would still be going ahead for a little bit before it started climbing, even if the nose were rapidly pointed skyward.


What I was getting at is, a partial deflection of the elevator at decision speed is enough to produce a rotation rate of a few degrees per second. Makes me wonder how many ft-lbs of torque that partial deflection is producing. Something considerably less than 6 million, would be my guess.

org
December 27, 2003, 10:03 PM
Publius, I can't argue any of these things. Everything I've suggested was (or should have been) prefaced by "if". If this happened, that happened. I don't know what happened, but I THINK it's possible that the airplane climbed (or arced) as described.

Maybe I'm right, maybe you're right. Maybe we're both partly right. However, I don't think a missile shot down Flight 800. The logistics just don't fit. The human ability to keep a secret doesn't work. The capabilities of small missiles don't fit. The damage inflicted doesn't fit. Maybe a bomb, maybe a fuel tank explosion.

All my opinion, of course.

publius
December 28, 2003, 05:14 AM
I agree that those are good reasons to doubt that a missile took the plane down. I have my doubts about that as well. Like I said before, maybe a bomb, and maybe even a wire in a fuel tank:scrutiny:, but this thread isn't about those things.

This thread is about what would happen to a 747 that lost its nose, for whatever reason.

I think it probably would take less than 2 seconds to pitch up 45 degrees, and less than 4 seconds to pitch up 90, and less than 6 seconds to pitch all the way over to 135, in the unlikely event that it made it that far. People on the ground wouldn't see it climb. They'd see it do a very rapid vertical circle.

It probably never made it that far. It pitched up very abruptly for those first couple of seconds before stalling/spinning/disintegrating (take your pick).

I just don't see how a sustained 40 second climb would be possible, since that would necessarily involve pointing the aircraft skyward for at the least several seconds. I don't think TWA 800 could be pointed in any one direction for as long as several seconds once the nose was gone.

publius
December 28, 2003, 06:35 AM
Looking back through the thread, I think I've found where we really differ, org.

The airplane pitches up, increasing the angle of attack initially and it goes up until it either stalls or breaks up.

I've bolded the key word. I don't think the pitching would ever stop. I can't see any reason it would. Can you?

If the pitching didn't stop, the angle of attack would increase until the plane stalled/spun/broke up.

It would be gaining altitude for that entire time, but I can't see that entire time lasting more than a couple of seconds. That brings me to:

When you're moving 500,000 plus pounds, nothing occurs instantly, especially when the tail is still attached.

You've got a little more than 10 times the number of flight hours I do, including, apparently, time in transport jets. You must have encountered clear air turbulence. I have, but only as a passenger. The beverage cart beside me levitated about 2 1/2 feet, then came crashing back down, all in less time than it took you to read that. In other incidents, as you are no doubt aware, passengers who don't pay heed to the advice that you buckle up while in your seat have found themselves flung against the ceiling and injured during a CAT encounter. These are all really big, heavy passenger liners I'm talking about, and they hit an air pocket and just DROP for lack of a better word, instantly.

Things can happen to really big planes really fast. Those planes that went into the WTC towers were also destroyed instantly. All it takes is a huge amount of force. Like 6 million foot pounds.

artherd
December 28, 2003, 06:50 AM
"All it takes is a huge amount of force. Like 6 million foot pounds."

You do have a very good point here. Things can happen to even big aircraft in a big hurry.

Just because the control surfaces create a sloppier 'feel' as aircraft tend to get bigger, does not mean they are less vulnerable to physics.

A CG change to 11 feet AFT of COL would definately be catastrophic. How would it behave? Depends on a thousand other factors I am not aware of. It could really almost 'go either way'. Is it likely it stabaly zoom climbed for 42+ seconds? no. Is it possible some freak set of circumstances allowed it to do just that? Sure it is! I wouldn't bet my lunch money though.

publius
December 28, 2003, 07:00 AM
I can't think of any circumstance, freaky or otherwise, that would stop the pitching.

Can anyone name one, even an extremely far-fetched one?

publius
December 28, 2003, 07:27 AM
On a lighter note,

Just because the control surfaces create a sloppier 'feel' as aircraft tend to get bigger, does not mean they are less vulnerable to physics.

It's the designers who create that "feel."

Most of my multiengine time is in the venerable Beech 18. I say venerable because that's a nice way to describe an airplane that was really old when I was born. It's not all that big, has 900 horsepower, and carries a ton or so. Talk about sloppy! With a heavy load, those little rudders don't do a thing unless you've got the engines run up pretty high.

Makes for an interesting crosswind landing. The only really good way to get it pointed straight is to add some power on your upwind engine. Yeah, there's a really good way to keep the oily side down. ;)

I flew the 18s with a guy who had thousands of hours in DC 3s and 6s, which are more or less the same plane, only bigger and much bigger, respectively. A big difference, according to my buddy: that big ol' tail on the DC 3 is actually effective. You stomp, and something happens! Imagine that. A bigger airplane, but not as sloppy.

org
December 28, 2003, 12:18 PM
Publius, when I said the angle of attack would increase initially. I was referring to the fact that sometime before the vertical, the airplane either came apart or stalled. That initial pitchup could generate a higher angle of attack and climb vector. The longer before stall or breakup, the more climb. After either of those events, pitch and angle of attack are meaningless, all there is left to determine how high it went was inertia.

Turbulance is movement of the airmass. Maneuvering is movement within the air mass. Technically, this was maneuvering.

I agree that the pitch probably never reached the vertical. Big jets don't do loops, even with the nose on. That's why I said "initial."

UnknownSailor
December 28, 2003, 01:17 PM
I remember reading about that, but I can't remember where. You got a link?

That's something I heard on Art Bell, when he interviewed Cdr. Donaldson on air on Coast to Coast AM.

I will look for a link, but I can say with a good degree of certainty that it is in the twa800.com site, somewhere, since Cdr. Donaldson was associated with that site until he passed away.

publius
December 28, 2003, 06:57 PM
That initial pitchup could generate a higher angle of attack and climb vector. The longer before stall or breakup, the more climb.

That's true. I just think forces like those mentioned would mean that the initial pitchup would result in an almost immediate stall/spin/breakup. The CG was in its normal position, a foot in front of the COL, then, suddenly, it was 11 feet behind the COL. A tail section designed to pull down hard enough to resist the torque from the CG being 1 foot in front of the COL suddenly has to push up hard enough to resist the new torque from the CG being 11 feet behind the COL.

Seems to me that has to result in the aircraft pitching up really dramatically, and with only the badly overwhelmed tail to resist that pitching, it would pitch right through the critical angle of attack very quickly, and that'd be that.

Turbulance is movement of the airmass. Maneuvering is movement within the air mass.

True again. My only point with the CAT reference was that it is possible for something as big as a 747 to just drop quite a ways in almost no time at all. I realize that the wind causes it, not the flight controls, but the point remains: something that big can move down quickly enough that a person who is not strapped in can wind up hitting the ceiling.

Unknown Sailor, thanks. I'll go have a look. Never checked out that site before.

HABU
December 28, 2003, 07:39 PM
You guys can argue the finer points of aerodynamics all you want to. I simply hope that Capt. Ray Lahr can expose the .gov for the baffoons they can be.:D

If he does, I doubt that the media will take it very far.

publius
December 29, 2003, 06:27 AM
It's not really a fine point, HABU, more of a fundamental one. Like if I said that a dramatic climb would produce a dramatic reduction in groundspeed, but the radar data don't show that (http://flight800.org/radar6.htm).

Leatherneck
December 29, 2003, 02:14 PM
I'm with org on this one. Publius's theory assumes that the CofL remains static, when in fact, beyond a certain AOA, the whole notion of COL is meaningless, and the wing is no longer a lifting body. Don't forget, in your theory of non-stop pitch-up. you neglect to consider the AOA of the horizontal stabilizer, which is roughly the same as the wing unless structural failure occurs. So the tail force vectors shift from downward to neutral to upward as the airplane pitches up. It's not unreasonable to assume that the whole pitch-up process slows at some point, allowing the new, somewhat stable "flight condition" to carry the mass upward almost ballistically. How long is reasonable? I don't know, but 42 seconds seems too long.

BTW, some guys from our live-fire test shop were involved in the test planning and analysis; the ullage mixtures were varied only slightly, not extensively, so not all potential conditions inside the tank were emulated in test. And Jet A-1 fumes can be explosive under certain conditions of temperature, pressure and richness.

TC
TFL Survivor

DJJ
December 29, 2003, 06:45 PM
First, my "credentials" :rolleyes: : private pilot, about 300 hours, with some tailwheel and aerobatic time. Civil Engineer, with some knowledge of inertia, load paths, stress distribution, shear & moment, etc.

All talk of pitch-up aside... As I understand it, the main wing spar in the 747 is very close to, and in fact, makes up some of the structure of the center fuel tank. For those who don't know, the main spar is the "backbone" of the wing. It runs from wingtip to tip, it's more or less I-shaped (like a beam in a building or bridge), and it's generally located at the thickest point of the wing (thickest point = tallest ("deepest") spar = maximum bending strength). In a cantilever wing (no braces like many small planes have), there are large bending stresses at the root of the wing (the wings want to fold "up").

I find it very difficult to believe that after an explosion powerful enough to blow off the entire fuselage forward of the wing occurred in such close proximity to the center section of the spar, that the spar could have been in any condition to take any bending loads at all. I'm forced to think that the wings would have folded up immediately, and would not even have been able to take 1G, much less the more-than-1G associated with a sudden pitch-up and resulting zoom.

publius
December 29, 2003, 07:02 PM
Publius's theory assumes that the CofL remains static, when in fact, beyond a certain AOA, the whole notion of COL is meaningless, and the wing is no longer a lifting body.

I'm not ignoring that at all. In fact, that's my point! It's true that the center of lift does move with a changing angle of attack, but it doesn't move much. In any case, the AOA you're talking about is called the critical angle of attack, and it's the angle beyond which the wing stalls. All I'm saying is that flight 800's wings would have reached that angle, and reached it very quickly, long before any noticeable climb could occur. Like I said, a couple of seconds.

Don't forget, in your theory of non-stop pitch-up. you neglect to consider the AOA of the horizontal stabilizer, which is roughly the same as the wing unless structural failure occurs. So the tail force vectors shift from downward to neutral to upward as the airplane pitches up.

That's true, the tail would be experiencing an increasing angle of attack during the couple of seconds I'm talking about, resulting in some lift on the tail of the plane. The reason I think that would not matter is because the tail was never designed to resist the sudden application of that much force.

It's not unreasonable to assume that the whole pitch-up process slows at some point, allowing the new, somewhat stable "flight condition" to carry the mass upward almost ballistically.

Let's get back to the see-saw with the heavy guy and the guy wearing the weight belt for a second here. Recall that the weight belt is the horizontal stabilizer, always pulling down because that heavy guy is on the other end. In an airplane, the heavy guy is on the nose end for purposes of stall recovery and stability. The CG is forward of the COL.

What happens when the wing stalls, and there is no longer a COL? The heavy guy wins. The nose pitches down, and recovery is possible.

With the CG behind the COL, it's like putting extra weights on that smaller guy. When the wing stalls, the tail drops. Ouch! If you don't tie down your cargo in your old Beech 18, it can happen to you! ;) Once that happens, no stable flight condition is possible.

The CG on flight 800 didn't just shift a little bit. It shifted a LOT, and it wound up behind the COL, exerting 6 million foot pounds of nose-up torque in the process, and it did it, presumably, really fast. Once a nose starts coming off, my guess would be it comes all the way off very fast, and until that time, it weighs what it weighs, in this case, something like 80,000 pounds, or roughly 14% of the weight of the whole plane (just from memory, I already looked up those numbers twice for this thread, so go back and find 'em yourself if you want 'em ;)).

publius
December 29, 2003, 07:07 PM
DJJ,

You might be right. On the other hand, the tail is usually the weakest part of conventional airplanes. They come off in high-g situations much more often. Of course, most of the time, there hasn't been an explosion.

Still, those wings are damn strong. I've seen videos of them testing them, during which they bent one until it broke. It bent a long, long way beyond what I expected, then snapped with a sound that completely overloaded the poor microphone they used.

I'm not sure if I'd bet on the wings or the tail of 800 coming off first. I'd just bet on one, followed pretty quickly by the other, and all within maybe 10 seconds.

Sergeant Bob
December 29, 2003, 09:06 PM
publius Still, those wings are damn strong. I've seen videos of them testing them, during which they bent one until it broke. It bent a long, long way beyond what I expected, then snapped with a sound that completely overloaded the poor microphone they used.
I saw that video too. It was on Discovery Channel "Wings". The 747 has an amazingly strong wing!
I can't remember how much deflection it could withstand, but IIRC it was way beyond the design specifications.

publius
December 30, 2003, 06:09 AM
I think I actually saw it on Government Broadcasting Service, not Discovery. I haven't had cable TV since August 24, 1992 (hurricane Andrew snapped my cable line on that day, and soon afterwards I moved very far away from where any cables exist.) In any case, probably different specials, but almost certainly the same Boeing file video.

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