Posted Tuesday, January 8, 2002

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The witnesses said they were surprised NTSB Chairwoman Marion Blakey was able to say, only hours after the crash, that all indications pointed to an accident, rather than a terrorist attack.

NY Post

New York, January 7, 2002)


Flight 587 Witnesses Blast Feds


Fire EngineeringNEW YORKERS who believe they saw American Airlines Flight 587 explode in flames before its tail sheared off have accused crash investigators of ignoring their eyewitness accounts and prematurely ruling out a terrorist attack.

Six witnesses, including a recently retired police lieutenant, an FDNY deputy chief and a former firefighter, have written to the National Transportation Safety Board, demanding they be called to testify at a public hearing.

Tom Lynch, 59, a retired firefighter, said he had also spoken to 18 other people who saw the Airbus A300 flying on fire before it crashed into houses in Belle Harbor, Queens, on Nov. 12, killing 265 people.

"The NTSB is not publicly acknowledging the many eyewitness accounts of the in-flight fire or explosion, many from people who are adamant that the fire occurred before any tail or engine breakups," he told The Post.

Lynch, who organized the letter, said he was standing on Rockaway Beach Boulevard when he saw a bright orange ball of flame streaming from the right side of the plane.

Two or three seconds later, he said, he saw a larger eruption of flames consuming the entire right side of the plane's fuselage.


The Airbus's tail stabilizer was recovered from the water of Jamaica Bay some distance from the near-vertical impact site of the fuselage at Rockaway Beach. No airbus has ever had a structural wing failure. (AP Photo/Daniel P. Derella)

"There were no falling parts until the second explosion of flames -- I'll go to my grave with that," he said.

The witnesses said they were surprised NTSB Chairwoman Marion Blakey was able to say, only hours after the crash, that all indications pointed to an accident, rather than a terrorist attack.

"How could that statement be made while the flight-data recorder had not been recovered, the crash-investigation team had not yet showed up and initial eyewitness reports included many accounts of one or two explosions in flight?" Lynch said.

Another witness not involved with Lynch's group, Michael Benjamin, said he saw a huge orange fire engulfing the front third of the plane's right side while he was driving along Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn with his wife and two children.

Benjamin, who works for the Oversight, Analysis and Investigations Committee of the state Assembly, said he had attempted to contact the NTSB but had not received a return call.

Preliminary reports written by the NTSB have not mentioned in-flight explosions, but have focused on air turbulence, the composite materials used to build the jet's vertical tail, and sudden rudder movements.

An NTSB spokesman said more than 200 eyewitness accounts had been recorded and were being considered as part of the investigation.

But he said if the NTSB decided to conduct a public hearing, it would most likely seek opinions from air-safety and aeronautical-design experts rather than witnesses.

The people who signed the letter, in addition to Lynch, are retired NYPD Officer James Conrad, FDNY Deputy Chief Peter Hayden, retired transit cop Richard Kvies, sales manager John Power and food-services manager Ellie Scholfield.


Related items on this website:

National Transportation Safety Board investigation of Flight 587 crash
Nov 12, 2001: David Irving speculates in A Radical's Diary about the American Airlines crash in New York
New York Post: Two witnesses saw explosions hit AA Flight 587, authorities make no response
NewsMax: Flight 587 Witnesses Charge Cover-Up
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