Re: TWA 747 crash - flight 800 (JFK-CDG)

From:         kls@ohare.Chicago.COM (Karl Swartz)
Organization: Chicago Software Works, Menlo Park, California
Date:         29 Jul 96 02:29:33 
References:   1
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>controllers in Boston reportedly lost contact with the flight at 840p
>when it was at an altitude of approximately 7,500 ft.

One of the more confusing aspects of the reporting on TWA 800 has been
the wild variations in altitude.  I finally saw some material over the
weekend that helped explain this.

Flight 800 was being tracked by a radar station at Islip, NY, which
makes one 360-degree sweep every 12 seconds.  At 20:31:08 EST, the
radar sweep picked up TWA 800 with a transponder response indicating
an altitude of 13,700 ft.  On the next sweep, there was no response
from the transponder, and during that interval the CVR and FDR both
stopped recording abruptly.  The sweep after that one picked up two
distinct pieces of flight 800.  According to the San Francisco
Chronicle, "Investigattors have no evidence of a major breakup of
the plane before the fireball.  They believe the fireball happened
5,000 feet below the initiating event, a conclusion reached through
a careful correlation of reports from pilots on other planes and
with the help of a private Long Island company that provides a shadow
air tracking service."

The 7,500 ft altitude may have corresponded to the two pieces on the
first post-breakup radar sweep of the debris.  The 8,500 ft reports
clearly correspond to the fireball, while the 13,700 ft is the rough
altitude at which the "initiating event" occurred.

--
Karl Swartz	|Home	kls@chicago.com
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