- March 21, 2004
Our scheduling conference is still
scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on April 5, 2004, in Courtroom 14 before Judge A Howard
Matz. The Court issued an "Order Setting Rule 26(f) Scheduling Conference." In
accordance with that order, my lawyer John Clarke and I had a telephone
conference on March 12, 2004, with Jan L. Luymes, Assistant United Sates
Attorney representing the NTSB and the CIA, and Jay Brown, Perkins Coie, LLP,
representing Boeing. The result of that conference will be incorporated into a
"Joint Rule 26(f) Report". When the report is finalized in about a week, we will
issue another update which will incorporate the report.
I have been taking a closer look at my
copy of the FAA radar tape given to me by my close friend, Captain Richard
Russell (he passed out a few copies before the FAA swooped in and confiscated a
copy of the original). There is a lot of good information on the tape, but one
of the things I learned is that after TWA800 exploded and the transponder
failed, the radar went into the CST (Coast) mode. The computed radar position
shown on the scope was no longer the same as the primary 'skin paint' return.
For those unfamiliar with radar
terminology, as the radar antenna rotates it is sending out millions of pulses.
If a pulse is reflected back, it appears as a blip on the scope called the
primary return. In order for controllers to identify the return, aircraft carry
transponders. When the transponder is hit by a radar, it sends out a coded
signal with the identification and altitude of the aircraft. This secondary
return is decoded and appears on the scope as an identification tag attached to
the primary return.
When the radar fails to receive a
transponder return, the radar automatically goes into the CST mode while the
radar searches for the next transponder return. Meanwhile, the computer
generates a probable position for the target and puts CST in the identification
tag. Usually the radar finds the transponder again and everything goes back to
normal. If not, the New York Tracon radars were programmed for nine CST sweeps
before the radar stopped searching and dropped the target. In the CST mode, the
radar's computer uses the last received transponder speed and heading to
artificially project the target forward one step on each sweep, so what is shown
on the radar screen is most likely in the wrong position. The radar may still be
receiving the correct position of the primary return, but the primary return is
not shown. One might ask why the CST tag doesn't automatically attach to the
primary target return instead of attaching to a computer-generated position. It
may be because the controllers want to be sure the tag is not attached to the
wrong target. If there were two primary targets in close proximity, the CST tag
might attach to the wrong primary target.
The CST position shown on the last sweep
of TWA800 was in error by more than two nautical miles beyond the place where
TWA800 hit the water. In fact, we can't even be sure that TWA800 still existed
at the time of the last CST sweeps. Consequently, we can't use the position and
time of the CST sweeps to help determine the position and time of impact.
Fortunately, the primary returns were recorded separately, and their coordinates
were obtained by means of a FOIA request. They were used by Bob Donaldson and
Tom Stalcup in their separate analyses which include the following arguments
against the zoom-climb.
Everyone is familiar with a childhood
swing. If you are on a swing, and if you drop five feet from the top of the arc
to the bottom of the arc, how fast are you moving horizontally at the bottom of
the arc? It is a simple calculation. The horizontal velocity is the same as the
vertical velocity that you would have had if you dropped straight down five
feet? Using Newton's equations for gravitational motion, the vertical velocity
would be about 18 feet per second. The supporting rope of the swing just changes
the direction of that motion. The rope does not add to or subtract from the
tangential velocity because the rope is always perpendicular to the tangential
velocity. Assuming no friction, you will lose that same velocity as you climb
back up to the original height on the opposite half of the swing.
That same principle applies to the
hypothetical zoom-climb of TWA800, only in this case, TWA800 is starting at the
bottom of the swing and the rope is replaced by the lift of the wing which is
perpendicular to the forward velocity. If TWA800 had climbed 3200 feet, as
claimed by the CIA, then the horizontal velocity would have decreased by the
3200 foot drop velocity of about 454 feet per second or 269 knots. The
horizontal velocity at the time of the explosion, as recorded by radar, was
about 380 knots. In other words, TWA800's forward speed as measured by radar
would have decreased to 111 knots during the hypothetical zoom-climb. That just
didn't happen. In fact, the radar detected a slight increase of speed during the
period TWA800 was supposed to be in a zoom-climb. Quite simply, that means there
was no zoom climb.
Another other part that doesn't fit is the
time. It takes longer to climb 3200 feet and then fall to the ocean than it does
to simply fall to the ocean. The actual time from explosion to impact fits a
ballistic free fall. It does not fit a zoom-climb.
When the aviation community laughed at the
CIA cartoon, the NTSB reduced its verbal description of the zoom-climb to 1500
feet for its presentation at the public hearing three weeks later. But the NTSB
had already provided the 3200 foot zoom-climb information used by the CIA, and
the NTSB still used the 3200 foot zoom-climb in its own video animation
presented at the public hearing. (The 3200 feet was not labeled in the NTSB
video animation, but it could be scaled from the 13,800 foot starting altitude.)
The last part that doesn't fit is where
TWA800 landed in the debris field. Actually, TWA800 disintegrated during the
first fuel explosion and the debris fell downward out of the fireball as
described by Major Meyer, Captain Bauer, Dwight Brumley, Mike Wire and many
others who saw the missile approach TWA800 prior to the explosion. Furthermore,
the nose was attached and the electrical system was working at the time of the
explosion because Captain Dave McClaine and First Officer Vince Fuschetti were
watching the landing lights of TWA800 directly ahead of them when it exploded.
But suppose for a moment that the wing held together and the only disruption to
the flight was the departure of the nose. When the nose departed, the
center-of-gravity moved well behind the center-of-lift. The aircraft would pitch
up and stall and try to fall tail first. Any forward speed lost in a zoom-climb
before the stall could not be regained because the wing remained stalled until
impact. A forward speed reduced to 111 knots by a 3200 foot zoom-climb would be
further reduced by air friction until impact. That point of impact would have
been well short of the actual point of impact.
For a brilliant and complete analysis,
please refer to the Affidavits of Robert Donaldson and Dr. Tom Stalcup at my
Please note that we have made no reference
to the flight characteristics of a Boeing 747-100. The aerodynamics and the
physics that we have discussed apply just as well to a paper glider as they do
to a B747. The claim of the NTSB that secret Boeing data somehow allows its
zoom-climb to circumvent the laws of physics is a smokescreen. Boeing was the
first to acknowledge this in a statement issued immediately after the CIA
cartoon was shown saying that Boeing had no knowledge of the data used to
produce the CIA animation.
Boeing has intervened in my lawsuit
against the NTSB and the CIA. But please note that Boeing has not supported the
zoom-climb scenario. Although Boeing may have provided some proprietary
information to the NTSB and the CIA, Boeing is not saying that any of its
proprietary data or information was used to produce the CIA and NTSB zoom-climb
scenario. In fact, Boeing stated just the contrary. Boeing engineers and
aerodynamicists are some of the sharpest in the world, and Boeing has not
endorsed the zoom-climb scenario.
Boeing is only declaring its right to
protect proprietary information, a right that I respect and support. Boeing has
already voluntarily and publicly released all of the information necessary to
refute the zoom-climb. In addition, two former Boeing engineers, Brett Hoffstadt
and Jay Himmelman, have supported my opposition to the zoom-climb scenario.
The struggle for the truth goes on.