MINEOLA, N.Y. (TheBlaze/AP) -- "We don't know who fired the missile," said Jim Speer, an accident investigator for the Air Line Pilots Association, one of those seeking a new review of the probe into the cause of TWA Flight 800's explosion in 1996.
"But we have a lot more confidence that it was a missile."
Former investigators are pushing to reopen the probe into the 1996 crash of TWA Flight 800 off the coast of New York, saying new evidence points to "a detonation or high-velocity explosion" as the cause, even to the often-discounted theory that a missile strike may have downed the jumbo jet.
The New York-to-Paris flight crashed July 17, 1996, just minutes after the jetliner took off from John F. Kennedy Airport, killing all 230 people aboard.
Fox News noted:
“It all fits like a glove,” said Tom Stalcup, a physicist who is considered one of the foremost independent researchers and participated in the documentary, said during a press conference on Wednesday. “It is what it is and all the evidence is there.”
Hank Hughes, a retired senior accident investigator for NTSB, said probers were not allowed to seek answers once the FBI took over the crime scene. "We just want to see the truth come out," Hughes said. "We don't have hidden agendas. The only thing we are looking for is the truth."
Speer, who says he found explosive residue on a part from the right wing which also had three holes, agreed.
“It’s obvious that the truth was not allowed to be pursued," said Speer. “A majority of people working in that hanger did not feel as if the evidence was properly being handled.”
The effort to reopen the probe is being made in tandem with the release next month of a documentary that features the testimony of former investigators who raise doubts about the National Transportation Safety Board's conclusion that the crash was caused by a center fuel tank explosion, probably caused by a spark from a short-circuit in the wiring.
In a petition filed Wednesday seeking to reopen the probe, they say they have "reviewed the FAA radar evidence along with new evidence not available to the NTSB during the official investigation and contend that the NTSB's probable cause determination is erroneous and should be reconsidered and modified accordingly."
Those calling for a review of the investigation include former NTSB accident investigator Hank Hughes and Bob Young, a former senior accident investigator for the now-defunct TWA. Tom Stalcup, a physicist and co-founder of a group called Flight 800 Independent Researchers Organization, also questions the NTSB's original findings and is featured prominently in the documentary, which is slated to air on the 17th anniversary of the crash next month on premium cable network EPIX.
The NTSB issued a statement Wednesday saying it is aware of the upcoming documentary.
"All petitions for reconsideration are thoroughly reviewed, and a determination is usually made within about 60 days," spokeswoman Kelly Nantel said. "While the NTSB rarely re-investigates issues that have already been examined, our investigations are never closed and we can review any new information not previously considered by the board."
She noted the TWA Flight 800 investigation lasted four years.
"Investigators took great care reviewing, documenting and analyzing facts and data and held a five-day hearing to gather additional facts before determining the probable cause of the accident during a two-day board meeting."
Robert Francis, the former vice chairman of the NTSB who headed the investigation, declined to comment.
The former investigators calling for a new probe say new evidence that a missile may have downed the jet includes analysis of radar of the jetliner.
Speculation of a missile strike began almost immediately after the crash. Theories that an errant missile may have been fired from a U.S. military vessel were widely refuted, but conjecture about a shoulder-fired missile launched by terrorists in a small boat has never completely gone away.
This file graphic image, provided by the Central Intelligence Agency, Dec. 9, 1997, shows an animation of the disintegration of Paris-bound TWA Flight 800 as it explodes off the coast of Long Island on July 17, 1996. The video was used to explain eyewitness accounts of the explosion, which killed all 230 people aboard. (Credit: AP)
The petitioners contend that the testimony of more than 200 witnesses who reported seeing streaks of light headed toward the plane should be reconsidered. The NTSB said after the first investigation that it found no evidence of a missile strike. It explained that what witnesses likely saw was the jetliner pitching upward in the first few moments after the explosion, but some witnesses still maintain that the streak of light they saw emanated from the waterline and zoomed upward toward the plane.
John Seaman, the longtime leader of an organization of TWA 800 victims' families, noted there have been several attempts over the years to reopen the investigation.
"Unless something was to develop that would be very clear and compelling, then a lot of these interested parties are not really helpful," said Seaman, whose niece died on the flight. He spoke to The Associated Press in a telephone interview from upstate New York on Tuesday, ahead of the formal filing of the petition.
"They reopen wounds," he said of the petitioners. "Personally I can't keep going over it again and again. I think most families feel that way."
The documentary airs on the EPIX premium television channel. An EPIX spokeswoman declined to say how much the filmmakers were paid for the documentary.
(H/T: Fox News)