Donaldson on Art Bell Program - (12/1/98)
Choose Tuesday night/Wednesday morning 12/1/98
"She described it hitting the left wing root of the aircraft"
Eyewitness Suzanne McConnell
Bell: Where are you, Suzanne
McConnell: I'm in East Moriches
Bell: You're right there then
McConnell: Yes, I am.
Bell: Commander, would you like to lead her through this?
Donaldson: Well sure. Suzanne and I just really got together for the first time a few days back. We have an 800 number now for eyewitnesses and anyone else who has a material contribution to the investigation and we just did make contact. Suzanne, why don't you tell everybody where you were, what you were doing and what you saw.
McConnell:Well I live right on East Moriches Bay and my family and I were sitting on the deck eating dinner and I just happened to be looking out directly at the spot where I saw the .. what I thought was a flare go up from about ground level
Bell: From ground level?
McConnell: And tracked it as it went up and all of a sudden there was just this orange fireball in the sky which then broke into about two or three pieces and then just kind of cascaded down to the bay.
Bell: So you saw this happen?
Bell: And you saw something come without question from the ground up.
McConnell: Well it was... it had to have come at least from the ground because .. I'm not sure how far off ground level I saw it start but it definitely came from down below
Donaldson: And Suzanne the amount of time ....how fast did it take to go from ground level up to obviously where the aircraft was?
McConnell: Oh, it probably took about three or four seconds.
Donaldson: So it was really moving quickly then.
McConnell: Oh, it was going fast.
Donaldson: Is there any question that it was not going several times faster than the normal speed of an airplane that you see fly by?
McConnell: Oh, no. It was definitely moving faster than a plane.
Donaldson: OK and it was going near vertically. It wasn't going horizontally or something like that?
McConnell: Oh, no. It was going vertically.
Eyewitness Bill Lisle
Bell: Bill where are you located?
Lisle: I'm located in Lindenhurst, Long Island
Bell: Lindenhurst, Long Island. All right. You apparently were a mate on a commercial fishing boat of some kind?
Lisle: Yes, I was first mate on a charter boat fishing for blue fish about six miles off the beach.
Bell: On that night?
Bell: So you had the advantage of being off shore - let's see .. six miles more or less west of the missile launch point and it says here you watched it go from the surface into the cloud and then observed two explosions? Is that correct?
Lisle: Well, everything is correct. What I saw was after it got up into the cloud cover I saw a large flash up in the clouds and then after that like another large flash and then you know I saw stuff coming down
Bell: Right, let's back up. What were you able to see at ground level? What did you see from ground level, from the ocean where you were?
Lisle: Well we were heading west and I was standing right on the stern of the boat because we were trolling what they call .. blue fish (unclear) and I was watching the two lines running out the back of the boat. And all of a sudden I saw this large orange and red thing just take off from the surface of the ocean south east of me.
Bell: Could you.. is there any way .... I know it's difficult to estimate distance but how far would you say this launch was from your?
Lisle: It had to be maybe six miles
Bell: Six miles
Lisle: Maybe a little farther - it's kinda tough to estimate how far but I'd say something in that area.
Bell: Was there any question in your mind what you saw?
Lisle: None, not at all. From day one ... nobody will ever convince me any different about what I saw.
Bell: So you saw a missile leave the sea and streak up into the clouds. You saw one explosion, then you saw a secondary explosion
Lisle: Right, I saw like an explosion up in the cloud cover. I saw a flash - looked like sometimes you see lighting up in the clouds and then I saw another one and that was it.
Bell: You heard Suzanne before you and I'm going to have to ask you some of the same questions. Number 1 - did you talk to the FBI?
Lisle: Yes I did. The second day after the accident they came down to the dock and interviewed me down at the dock
Bell: At the dock?
Lisle: Right. I was a mate on a charter boat out of (unclear) and when we were coming in from a trip they were on the dock and they wanted to talk to me then after we got tied up.
Bell: So you told them roughly what you just told me
Bell: And their reaction?
Lisle: Their reaction to me was: "You actually want us to believe that you saw a missile go up there and shoot that plane down?" And I said: "Yes"
Bell: That was their reaction? My God! So it's as though they were incredulous ...."You want us to believe that?" That kind of reaction?
Lisle: That's the impression I got - yes.
Donaldson: We are going to get into some sensational stuff that was leaked to me .. to our investigation .. by military experts that were consulted by the FBI. And they are not happy ... these military experts are not happy about whats happened here. One of the things that happened immediately before the shootdown was that four days before the event, right on Long Island a fellow was up on his roof taking video shots. He had a brand new video camera and he captured a missile shot. It was done just after dawn and was out over the ocean. Now the FBI got that video and eventually took it to a military ..... I can't say which unit .... but they viewed the video and to a man I'm told, including one that saw it, that it was a missile shot that was captured. They didn't see the bright plume going up because the guy had his back to the event and as he turned around he went "oh my God!" and takes a picture of the smoke trail that was left of this missile going up ... going out on the ocean near Long Island. Now that's one indicator
Bell: What are you suggesting? That it was an attempt at a shootdown or a test?
Donaldson: I would never tactically suggest that they would test the weapon because that would be a waste of a weapon and totally foolhardy.
Bell: You're saying this was an attempt to shoot down an aircraft.
Donaldson: Right ....... Let me get to the big one. The big one is one of the reasons that witness testimony is being held secret or top secret by the FBI is that according to our military informant they have a witness ... the FBI has got a witness who was close to the shootdown, obviously on a boat, who describes a missile going up burning under power for about six seconds, bright white exhaust plume. Then the motor went out, the missile coasted for a couple of seconds and she described it hitting the left wing root of the aircraft. OK. Now that's pretty sensational and it describes because of the timing .. that's why with these two new witnesses that we talked to earlier why I wanted them to say what they told me about the time they saw a missile in flight.
Bell: How sure are you about this secret witness?
Donaldson: The source? OK here's the thing. My source is a ex military officer who is an expert in the field of anti-aircraft weapons and he was consulted ... now the way the FBI did this ... they would not allow any military investigator or expert to view or read the witness form. They only way that they could convey information was by voice .. in court later I guess somebody couldn't say "I saw that document and I know there is a witness". But the account was told explicitly.
Donaldson, Meyer and Goss on Art Bell Program - (11/24/97)
"These are sad days in America"
Bell: - William or Bill Donaldson, welcome to the program
Donaldson - Hi Art. Glad to be with you this evening
Bell: - Happy to have you. We've got a lot to talk to you about, Mr. Donaldson. I skipped over your resume and did not include a very great deal of the detail of some of the jobs you've had, but basically since about 1958 you've been in aviation one way or the other.
Donaldson - Oh yeah, in fact I'm an air force brat, my father, I mean I grew up with air force fighter pilots before I even joined the Navy, so probably 58 years of my life have been, pretty, totally, immersed in tactical aviation.
Bell: - okay, we're going to have a lot of detail from you about the flight 800 business, but I think we should lead the show with two people who actually saw what happened. I've got them on the line and I'm going to see if we can bring them up right now, they are Richard Goss and Major Fred Meyers. Major Meyers, are you there? Hello Major Meyers - okay I can barely hear you for some reason. Richard Goss are you there?
Goss - Yes I am - I'm here
Bell: - Okay, we appear to have a problem
Meyers - Maybe not. How's that?
Bell: - Oh much better, much better , is that Major Meyers?
Meyers - I just had two phones on the same line.
Bell: - Oh, I see..no you can't do that. All Right, very good. What I think I would like to do , Mr. Donaldson, is to let you ask these gentlemen what they saw.
Donaldson - Okay, that's probably, that'll work pretty well. Fred Meyers and I are sort of kindred spirits because we were in Vietnam at about the same time. Fred, why don't you go ahead and go through what you were doing and what you saw and we'll go from there.
Meyers - All right, interrupt me if I get too verbose. I was up on a routine evening training flight. Actually, just completing a series of mandatory monthly requirements, waiting for the sun to go down, before we flew a night vision goggle, air refueling mission, lights out air refueling.
Bell: - What were you flying?
Meyers - I was flying an H60 Blackhawk helicopter. I was scanning the area in the front of and to the right of the aircraft because my copilot was flying an instrument approach and he was heads down in the cockpit. In other words, his concentration , his eyes were on the gauges. He wasn't looking out for possible traffic that would collide with us. And we were near the end of the glide slope, on instrument approach when the tower called out, giving another aircraft clearance to land on my runway. So I immediately looked out in front of me to see where that traffic was. I couldn't see it. But as I was scanning the horizon, looking for that traffic, I saw a streak of light, which I've described many times and I've described it as being similar in speed and trajectory of a shooting star, except that it was broad daylight and the streak was red-orange in color..but it was moving from my left-center to my further left. It was almost horizontal, but had a gently descending curve.
Bell: - Major , you rescued people in North Vietnam, you've seen missiles?
Meyers - Yes sir
Bell: - You know what missiles look like?
Meyers - Yes sir
Bell: - Is that what this looked like?
Meyers - It could have been. But nothing at the moment in my head said..clicked and said this is missile, for a couple of reasons. And, certainly I wasn't looking for a missile.
Bell: - Obviously , yes
Meyers - And number two, the missiles I'd seen fired in Vietnam normally had erratic flight paths. They don't or did not describe a smooth arc in the air.
Donaldson - Fred, to butt in a little bit. That's true. Most smaller, anti-aircraft missiles are very erratic in flight and its something that every combat pilot would recognize. But, we should realize that there are many missiles in various inventories that have rock-solid trajectories and Fred may not have seen one of those in flight.
Meyers - Well I ..you know, I had seen SAM 1's and they were pretty old, logs, telephone pole types. But there was nothing about this that was unique and said to me that this is a missile. So I didn't make, I can't make that determination that it absolutely was a missile, because it could have been a number of other things.
Bell: - All right Major, where were you specifically in the air in this Blackhawk when you saw this? Where were you?
Meyers - All right, I was two hundred feet in the air on the northeast end of a runway that faces southwest. So I was looking, right, straight, down the runway and over the extended center line of the runway, right at this streak of light. It was right in front of me. It was at a good distance, somewhere between ten and fifteen miles and probably, I had estimated at the time, somewhere around ten thousand feet. Although it is very difficult to estimate altitude at that distance. The streak of light lasted for..three to five seconds. Then it stopped for somewhere around a second. Then, immediately to my left, at the end of what would have been the trajectory of that same streak of light, and at that speed, in other words, so that I made a conclusion that what I saw had come from the streak of light, although the streak of light had stopped. Then just about a second later, further to the left, and on approximately the same line I saw an explosion, hi-velocity explosion. Looked for all the world to me like ordinance.
Bell: - Ordinance
Meyers - Like a warhead
Bell: - Like a warhead.. In other words, this would not have been the main body explosion of the fuel tank of flight 800. This would have been a sharp, ordinance explosion.
Meyers - That's exactly correct.
Bell: - All right, you were in a Blackhawk, Major. I was just up in Alaska and was in a Blackhawk. And I am aware of, particularly the rescue type equipment, you have a lot of heat sensing equipment on board, as well as radar and so forth. Were you able to detect anything on instruments?
Meyers - No, now that, we didn't have the..we have forward looking infrared radar, which is a heat-seeking depicting equipment. We did not have it energized at the time.
Bell: - oh
Meyers - Its normal to wait until after sunset to energize that equipment.
Bell: - Sure
Meyers - And it has a cool down period. We also have night vision goggles which we have attached to our helmets, but we have them flipped up above the helmets so that they're not impeding our vision.
Bell: - Understood
Meyers - And they were off. So at this point, we're strictly what we call them , 'mark one eyeball'. We're flying on our normal vision in broad daylight, on a beautiful evening. It was uh, practically no clouds in the sky, just a very slight haze, a scud layer.. that was more visible lower down that it was at two hundred feet. At two hundred feet, the visibility was excellent.
Bell: - Major, the CIA, and the FBI and others have suggested that what people thought they saw and what they thought, you know, they're calling a missile, people like you, Major, who should know what you see; in fact didn't see that at all. What they saw was fuel trailing from flight 800 that appeared to be a streak of light. Can you address that?
Meyers - Well that's pure fabrication.
Bell: - really
Meyers - what's going on in the FBI, I don't know. But after the event, I talked to several people whom I've known for ten or fifteen years who are early middle age, forties, fifties, good eyesight, highly reputable people, professional people, who told me that they had, by accident, seen something. And they had seen, what they describe, being civilians, they described it as a roman candle, or a rocket, going up from the horizon. And there was no doubt in their minds that it was going up, and not coming down.
Donaldson - And Art, this is Bill here. The critical point here in an investigation is, when Richard comes on here shortly, what he saw and what Fred Meyers saw when you draw the line, on the bearing line they cross about three miles offshore, and they cross correlate with other people up and down the beach. So the first sight of what appears to be a missile, there are a whole lot of people that don't know each other at all that point to exactly the same place in the sky. And it was well inland of the track of the aircraft.
Bell: - Major, were you interviewed by the FBI?
Meyers - This happened on a Wednesday evening
Bell: - yes
Meyers - and on the Friday afternoon, I sought them out at the East Moriches coast guard station.
Bell: - Oh you actually went to them. Major, hold on, everybody hold on, we are at the bottom of the hour and we'll pick up on that point when we comeback. Tonight, flight 800, as Paul would say, the rest of the story.
Bell: - We're discussing flight 800, and we have with us right now, Major Fred Meyers. Major Meyers was in a Blackhawk helicopter at about two hundred feet when he saw a streak of light and then what he describes as an ordinance explosion at an estimated ten thousand feet altitude. Now again, an ordinance explosion means a weapon exploding, not a center fuel tank exploding. Everybody's back on the air again. Major, I asked you, did the FBI interview you, and you said you went to them.
Meyers - That's correct. I sought the FBI out on two occasions, they never came to me. The Friday after the accident, which would have been the 19th of July 1996, I went to the FBI trailer at the East Moriches coast guard station, knocked on the door, told them who I was, and asked them if they would like to take a statement from me. They seemed surprised, sort of caught off guard. They assigned two agents. I sat down in a room. One of the agents pulled out a little two and a half by four inch spiral notebook out of his back pocket and a pen. And I spoke to them for approximately four minutes. They asked no questions. He took a couple of notes. They said thank you very much, and I left.
Bell: - uh
Donaldson - And Art, let me tell you something, he's not the only one that happened to. There's an inverted process here. If you didn't see anything, they wanted to talk to you. If you saw something very specific, they didn't seem to be too interested.
Bell: - uh you know, well we'll get into that later. Major Meyers, you said you went to them twice. So you did not hear back from them. I take it at some point you said what the hell is going on and went back in. Is that..
Meyers - No, actually there was a meeting, approximately two weeks later. My copilot was very dissatisfied with the fact that the FBI had not interviewed anybody in the crew and had not taken any of the actions that he thought were appropriate. Now, I'm not making any judgment on that, but he asked us to get together one more time and we did. During that meeting, I told, I think that was also on a Friday, maybe it was just one week later. I told..
Bell: - yeah
Meyers - ..I told the rest of the crew about a recurring dream that I'd had which concerned one portion of our flight that night when we were approaching the fireball as it was already in the water. I had told Chris, who was at the controls, to slow the helicopter down, to prevent us from flying under some debris that was still falling from the sky. And I had a picture in my minds eye of that debris falling. I saw that same picture over and over again and it disturbed my sleep, kept me up for a week. Took about a week, and the dream worked its way out and I could recognize what I was looking at in the dream. I don't want to get into that, but, at any rate, we called the FBI again and told them that I had additional information that I thought would be helpful to them and they sent two agents of the public affairs offices house. The unit TAO lived in center moriches right near the coast guard station. So they sent two agents up to talk to me . I talked to these two agents for about fifteen or twenty minutes. They took notes. And they said thank you very much and left. That was the last interview I had one on one with anybody in the FBI. Sometime later, probably , just about two weeks later, I gave a briefing to members of my own unit, the commanders of my own unit. There was an FBI agent present at that briefing. He asked no questions that I recall. Six months later, I had my first and only interview with the NTSB. There was an FBI agent present at that meeting, that lasted approximately fifteen minutes. And he asked no questions then. And that's my total experience with the FBI.
Bell: - Major, since you were flying a National Guard helicopter, would you have been aware of any military exercise, live fire military exercises going on in the area.
Meyers - Not necessarily
Bell: - All right
Meyers - Although it's a gray area. We were scheduled to fly on an air refueling route. What this is, is a direct course and speed and altitude. They're all predetermined. They're filed with the local air route traffic control of the Federal Aviation. They know that we are going to be flying approximately two miles south of the beach, on a course parallel to the beach, at an altitude, a preset altitude.
Bell: - So in other words, had there been something going on if they had not viewed it as a possible conflict to your flight plan, you might have not been notified.
Meyers - Might not, because if it were happening in the, if it were a Navy exercise in Whiskey 106, ten miles south of the beach, and we were only planning to be two miles south of the beach, they probably would not have notified us.
Bell: - All right, Major, I think that we've got as much from you as we can have, except I just want to ask one more question. The most explosive, no pun intended, part of your testimony is that you saw a high explosive, ordinance detonation. How certain are you that's what it was?
Meyers - ..Look I just look back on twenty five years experience in the air and.. I can say that , just give it the duck test. If it looks like a duck and flies like a duck, its probably a duck. And what I saw, looked to me, for all the world like an ordinance explosion. I don't know what else looks like that. I might also comment that about a second and a half to two seconds after that ordinance explosion, there was a second, high velocity explosion of brilliant, white light, like nothing I had recalled having seen before.. or since. Then about two seconds or three seconds after that, there came the petrochemical explosion, which was the fuel burning.
Bell: - And that would have been probably bright orange, type..
Meyers - Bright orange , mottled color, a lot of black, a lot of mottled color and grew to this huge fireball. But the point being, there were two high velocity explosions before the fuel explosion.
Bell: - Very clear.. Major, I want to thank you. Bill, do you have anything else that we have missed that we should ask?
Donaldson - No, there's one point about that bright white light. Fred is not the only one that saw that. And that is a characteristic of high velocity fragment penetration of aluminum. It'll give you a brilliant white flash, almost like a flashbulb. Its one of the collateral things that can happen with a warhead detonation.
Bell: - Warhead ..All right, Major, I want to thank you for being with us this evening , and I wish you luck, my friend.
Meyers - Thank you
Bell: - Take care. All right, that is Major Fred Meyers. We'll now turn our attention to Richard Goss. Richard Goss, again, owns a business on Long Island. He is a witness to this event as well. Are you there Richard?
Goss - Yes sir
Bell: - All right. Please lead us through what you know and what you saw.
Goss - Yeah, that evening, you know I belong to that West Hampton Yacht Squadron. And the West Hampton Yacht squadron faces south , you know, the back porch on it. And that particular Wednesday evening we have an informal sunfish race and that's followed by a porch dinner. That dinner you bring your own food and you have a little barbecue in the back and then we gather there on the back porch..and it faces Moriches Bay and the barrier beach dune road.
Bell: - Yes sir
Goss - And we had just finished up our Wednesday race . I raced in a particular race and, you know, we finished stowing our boats and putting our sails away and I had just walked up onto the back porch and sat down at the table that some of my friends were at. I was looking out over the bay, just relaxing from this race that we were having. It was a beautiful evening, very clear, light wind, light to moderate wind.and, just happened to look out over the bay..and there was, you know, a little conversation. And then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw like a flare coming up, you know, toward the barrier beach area.
Bell: - Is there any doubt at all about whether what you saw was going up or down?
Goss - Oh it was definitely going up
Bell: - It was definitely going up?
Goss - Definitely going up
Bell: - And it looked like a flare going up?
Goss - It looked like a flare and it drew attention to a couple of other people and they said someone even mentioned, hey, look at the firework. And we all thought it was a firework. At least I did. Now I'm just pleasantly watching this bright, red, pink, flare...
Bell: - All right, could you see Richard, anything beyond the light itself. In other words, could you make out any substance to anything at all beyond the light.
Goss - No, it was so bright and it was the typical look of a firework.
Bell: - Okay
Goss - you know, going up
Bell: - Sure, we all know what they look like, all right.
Goss - And you know that light travels high up before it reaches it's peak and that's exactly what I saw. And then, as it reached it's peak, it sort of leveled out. And then the strangest part was, it took a sharp veer left, and it was horizontal. You know, it moved horizontal at that point. And it was only a second or two later I saw the massive explosion in the sky.
Bell: - All right again, Richard. The CIA and others have said that witnesses like yourself, who saw things like you're describing to us right now were in fact seeing fuel trailing from the explosion of the flight 800 and that, in fact, it was not going up. It was going down and it was an optical illusion. What do you say. What do you say?
Goss - One hell of an optical illusion. I can't see that possible at all. It was an...
Bell: - All right, let me try this out. You saw this thing rising, this light which you thought was a flare. And it rose to a great altitude and then you said, took a turn. Now, a flare might go up, and then, in a trajectory, might begin down again. That's not what you're talking about.
Goss - No
Bell: - You're talking about a horizontal turn that you saw, is that correct?
Goss - Definitely
Donaldson - And Richard, give them a feeling of how fast this thing was moving. I mean moving up quickly or did it appear to be going away from you..
Goss - Oh yeah, it was very fast and , you know, faster than a firework climbing. Then I could see that when it reached it's peak, it was definitely traveling away. You know, the flare was getting smaller. And then it took the sharp left and you could see the smoke trail..sharp left.
Bell: - and you could see a smoke trail
Goss - And then there was the explosion
Bell: - then an explosion. You heard the Major describe what he firmly concludes is a high ordinance explosion, not the kind of explosion that followed with the center fuel tank or the fuel tanks exploding the fuel on flight 800 exploding which is like a fireball. When you say you saw an explosion, what did you see, precisely?
Goss - I saw the large fireball at that point and then, about a second after that, there was a second, off to the side, off to the left side as that fireball started to come down, the original fireball. There was a second explosion.
Bell: - Bill, even if we were to buy into the explanation that it was trailing fuel that was on fire, is there any way that you can imagine that trailing fuel would have taken a sharp left-hand turn?
Donaldson - Oh no, what Richard has described is the perfect laymen's description of a missile engagement. You know, when I talked to him out there, we went out to the yacht club, I took bearing lines, precise bearing lines from his position. I even photographed that site later. And when I cross it to these other people up and down eleven miles of beach, they all saw essentially the same thing. They saw something going vertically rapidly, and then appear to level and go outbound. Richard is probably the closest one of the witnesses I've talked to, to the actual launch because it looks like, even though he thought it went from the barrier islands as a fireworks, it probably was a missile about another three nautical miles off shore. And a much bigger vehicle than a flare or a firework. And I've got lots of stuff we can talk to later ..
Bell: - Of course, yes, of course. Richard, did you go to the FBI?
Goss - They came to me
Bell: - They came to you
Goss - Yes
Bell: - And what was the nature of the interrogation or the investigation. What did they ask you? What did you perceive of their attitude?
Goss - Their attitude when they uh, there were two agents that interviewed me. Their attitude was they were very surprised of the viewpoint that I had. They were very excited about what I had seen initially. And this is the first time that I've heard Mr. Meyers, and he was describing the note pad, the small notepad ..
Bell: - Yes
Goss - out of the back pocket. That was exactly what they used, and all they used. Was the same, it was that same type of notepad and pen. They jotted down a few things. The interview was four or five minutes
Bell: - four or five minutes?
Goss - One peeled off and he was speaking on a cellular phone in the background. And that was about it.
Bell: - Was that the only interview the FBI held with you, or did they come back?
Goss - They came back a second time.
Bell: - and then?
Goss - Very little excitement this time. It was just,sort of, a follow up. And it looked ..
Bell: - It was like something had changed?
Goss - It was definitely like something had changed. And I was .. .I was just, I just couldn't believe it. And that was it. It was no excitement, no anything after that. And then a third time they had called me on my cell phone on my truck and given me an over the phone interview. And that was it.
Bell: - Would you characterize their investigation as one that initially the agents were very interested in.... and in the both follow ups you've described, they suddenly had comparatively a great disinterest in what you had to say?
Goss - A disinterest and yes I would say that would be accurate.
Bell: - You're not a drinker?
Goss - No sir
Bell: - You don't take drugs?
Goss - No sir
Bell: - You're sure of what you saw?
Goss - Absolutely
Bell: - When you saw the CIA's description of what occurred and you heard the conclusion of mechanical failure on flight 800, how did that hit you?
Goss - You know, best described, I looked down at the ground and shook my head. You know, I couldn't believe it. The cartoon of the ....
Bell: - The CIA cartoon
Goss - Yes, the CIA cartoon. That best describes it as a cartoon. It was a joke.
Bell: - That isn't what happened?
Goss - No
Bell: - Richard, I want to thank you for joining us this evening. We are going to proceed, you're ... As a matter of fact, I think I just spent a longer period of time with you by several times than the FBI apparently spent with you.
Goss - Absolutely
Bell: - So I want to thank you and we will continue with Bill Donaldson after the break. Richard, again , thank you for being here.
Goss - Thank you
Bell: - Good night. All right, that was Richard Goss. And when we get back, we will get into the technical details of what Bill Donaldson thinks happened to flight 800. So I suggest you stay with me if you want to hear the other side of the story.
Bell: - I want you to understand who you are about to hear. William S Donaldson, Bill Donaldson, we'll call him. From 1962-65 was a naval aviation cadet at the University of Maryland. 1965 through 1967 was designated naval aviator and commissioned. 1968 through 1970 was an A4 attack pilot and a line division officer who flew eighty nine combat missions in southeast Asia, both North and South Vietnam, as well as Laos, where, of course, we never flew. Ran a line division of forty men, sixteen A4C aircraft on the flight deck and qualified as combat section and division flight leader. 1970 through 1972 was advanced flight jet instructor/line division officer. Directed line division of one hundred and ninety men, three officers, and seventy TA4 and F9 aircraft. He was then, 1972-1974 assistant air operations, CCA officer, though most junior of six officers then assigned to air operations. One of two fully qualified day/night in air ops. Directed a division of twenty seven air controllers, best in the fleet. Division achieved perfect score, in competitive exercise resulting in the USS Forestal winning the battle 'E' for operations. 1974-77 was an A4 US 2 pilot maintenance officer. Directed the aircraft maintenance department there. Named the best of eleven in the air wing. 1978-80 was an A6 attack pilot and safety officer , qualified air wing alpha strike leader. Managed the safety program for deployed A6 squadron. Ran quality assurance program. 1980, the year 1980 actually, an air operations officer. Planned and executed air operations for joint exercise, operation Solid Shield 80. Supervised a staff of eight officers and controlled the air war, 350 combat air sorties, from joint command post Key West. 1980-83 was a safety officer. Managed aviation safety program for airwings, three squadrons, 120 aircraft, 300 pilots. Exercised oversight of all mishap investigations, kind of like what the NTSB does. Discovered a cause of a series of out of control mishaps. 1884-87 was a nuclear plans officer. Formulated contingency war plans for use of nuclear weapons in NATO and represented the sixth fleet to NATO headquarters in Belgium. Exercised and certified each carrier battle group in conventional and nuclear operations. 1987-91 was a chief staff officer. Supervised ninety member staff. Oversaw seventy five million dollar budget, four subordinate commands, and five major contractors. Was reporting custodian for 122 jet aircraft. Responsible for all operational administrative, safety, personal, legal and aircraft maintenance matters. 1991-92 was a military expert on a council which executed a forty five minute presentation to three members of the Presidential commission on base closures, you'll recall that. Cited by the chairman as the best he had seen. I think it important that you understand who you are hearing. So that it was a little lengthy, but I think because of the gravity of what we are discussing, what we've already heard and what we are about to hear, you needed to know who you're listening to. Bill, welcome back.
Donaldson - Well, thanks Art. You know , this whole thing is, kind of like eating an elephant. It's a pretty big program, but the only way you can do it is sort of one bite at a time. I've got some things that when I tell your audience its going to be tough for them to believe it. But I want to say up front, I'm doing this as a matter of honor. I don't want to make a nickel out of this. And I don't plan to.
Bell: - You haven't written a book? They're not doing a movie? Nothing like that, huh?
Donaldson - No, no, I mean, that's not the program. Let me explain how I got, what started this.
Bell: - Yes, please
Donaldson - I knew we in trouble, we as a country, on this thing when the chairman of the National Traffic Safety Board, a fellow by the name of Jim Hall, back in April, put an article in the Wall Street Journal that basically said, set the predicate for what they're doing now. He said it was ..the title of the article was "It wasn't a missile". His justification was that the center line tank had spontaneously exploded.
Bell: - Yes
Donaldson - Yes, now, if your listeners don't pick up anything at all that I say, this is a key and it should open their eyes. In the entire history of United States civil, jet aviation, dating back over thirty years
Bell: - Yes, sir
Donaldson - everyone of these aircraft that the US has ever built, these airliners all basically have the same fuel design that the 747, flight 800 had. And they all use empty or near empty center wing tanks at one point or another, depending on what routes they fly.
Bell: - Why then, maybe you can help me out right now. This was an aircraft headed from New York ..
Donaldson - right
Bell: - ..to Paris
Donaldson - right
Bell: - That's a three thousand mile, roughly, journey , I think, across the Atlantic.
Donaldson - right
Bell: - Would it be a normal thing on such a flight to have the center fuel tank empty, or nearly empty?
Donaldson - Yes, and the reason the answer is yes is because of the....in the Northern hemisphere when you're flying east to west, you're fighting a head wind. In other words, from Paris to New York, for instance , you might have a 100 knot head wind above 30 thousand feet. So, when they're coming from Paris to New York, for instance, they need every bit of fuel they've got. But when they turn around and go the other way, New York back to Paris, you've got the tremendous tail wind and its operating the whole time you're in flight. So, in effect, if you filled up that center tank up when you left Kennedy, you'd be hauling eighty thousand pounds, or more, of dead weight. And that's really not safe. You don't want to land with that extra weight, especially when its fuel in an airplane.
Bell: - I appreciate that answer because I've heard many talk hosts say that it was insane to imagine the center fuel tank would have been empty on that long a journey. But that certainly explains it. Would there have been some fuel in that tank?
Donaldson - Right, there was approximately, they're saying now fifty to hundred gallons. You're talking about an immense tank. Its measurements are twenty feet by twenty feet by six feet tall, roughly.
Bell: - yes sir
Donaldson - and you'd have about a half and inch, fifty gallons of or a hundred gallons will be about a half inch, a little over a half inch of fuel on the bottom. Now here's what I wanted to finish saying here. In the whole history of airliners built in the United States, their entire history of flight, THERE HAS NEVER BEEN, IN HISTORY, A SPONTANEOUS FUEL TANK EXPLOSION IN ANY TANK, NOT JUST THE CENTER WING TANK. That adds up, conservatively, to one hundred fifty thousand years plus of flight time. And now, here we have, back in April, we have the chairman of the NTSB saying up front, "Well, we solved the problem. We just had a spontaneous explosion in a tank." Okay, to me, that got my attention. That's what got me involved in this. I knew that it was probably absolute B.S. So I went ahead and I ordered the fuels manual, and I studied it. And I found out right off the get go what I really already knew from my military experience. The fuel that was in the airplane is called Jet A1 and its universally used around the world now. It was created by American fuels technology. That fuel is extremely safe. And Art, I want to tell you something. I mean I've done this and even made a videotape and took it to up to congress and showed it to them. You can take the biggest, actually used big matches, like your long matches like you'd use to light a fire in a fireplace.
Bell: - right
Donaldson - And you can light the matches and you can just slowly immerse the lit match into the surface of that fuel and it'll go out. And it'll go out all the way. And you can heat the fuel all the way up to a hundred twenty seven degrees, actually a hundred twenty six degrees, and it'll still go out. At a hundred twenty seven degrees you'll get a slow fire that will propagate across the surface of the fuel.
Bell: - a slow fire
Donaldson - yeah. In other words, and this is what the aviation fuels manual tells you when you get into the technical side, and I don't want to go too far afield there. But the bottom line is this. What I discovered is that the temperature, the normal operating temperatures of that fuel in that aircraft, remembering the altitude that it was at, the temperature was twenty one degrees Fahrenheit.
Bell: - understood
Donaldson - Okay, now, you couldn't even, you could hold a barbecue in the fuel tank and dumped your hot coals into that fuel and they'd go out. Right, so here we have the lead safety agency in the United States, the political head of that agency, telling the whole world that we have dangerous fumes and fuel tanks and that's absolute nonsense. And congress has put the pressure on. They've farmed out all kinds of testing to Cal. Tech and some other people and they ... they wouldn't answer the question. What was the temperature in the center line tank?
Bell: - If the conclusion was the center tank spontaneously blew up, then why has there not been great directives from the NTSB regarding changes in the central, center fuel tank configuration.
Donaldson - Initially, and I've got several letters, and I think you've got them, that we sent back and forth between Mr. Hall and myself.
Bell: - Yes sir
Donaldson - That was my very point. That, the NTSB, if they really thought there was a severe hazard to flight safety, then they have a fiduciary duty to the flying public to immediately put in a safety fix, if you will. Now I knew, from my experience as a maintenance officer and safety officer, that every aircraft for engineering and just regular maintenance purposes, all of these tanks have low point drains. And I knew that you could get a fuel sample out of that tank in almost no time. So, after we sent the questions to Mr. Hall , they absolutely wouldn't answer the temperature question, I went up to New York...
Bell: - Mr. Hall is
Donaldson - Is the head of the National Transportation Safety Board.
Bell: - All right, so you went to New York.
Donaldson - Went to New York on an airliner. I can't name which one cause it'll get them in trouble with the NTSB. But I had one of their 747's, it was turning around going back to Europe, exactly like flight 800 was. I went ahead and had them pull a sample out of that tank. It took all of two minutes. All you do is pop a little access door in the bottom of the wing and you stick about a four foot hollow tube up there and press on a spring loaded valve on the bottom of the tank. The fuel goes into the tube, into the container at the bottom of the tube. Then I had them pour it into a thermos that I had rigged to take the temperature out of. I took the temperature and the fuel was exactly one degree warmer than the ambient air. It was sixty nine degrees and it was sixty eight degrees in the ambient air at the time.
Bell: - all right, now I've heard claims that the air conditioning units on flight 800, or all 747's , are located below this fuel tank and that the 747, flight 800, had been sitting on the ground and the theory was that the center fuel tank had been heated by these compressors, I guess, running
Donaldson - right
Bell: - ..and to a temperature that finally caused an explosion. Is there any way that could have happened?
Donaldson - No
Bell: - No?
Donaldson - And the reason is that when that aircraft was certified thirty something years ago, they go into unbelievable depth into testing, okay number one. And when they do that they create documents that go to maintenance people and they create documents that go to pilots. The document that goes to pilots specifically says: due to the testing that was done thirty some years ago, that extended, meaning long periods of time of air conditioning unit operation on the ground, may raise, may raise the temperature ten to twenty degrees Fahrenheit in the center wing tank.
Bell: - From the ambient
Donaldson - Right. Now, what I found out when I did the little simple, two minute test that cost me about fifteen bucks for a thermos and a thermometer..
Bell: - sure
Donaldson - ..the NTSB spent millions on instrumenting airplanes and flying them around and they still won't answer the question: What's the temperature in the tank? Okay, and their sticking to this thing like, you know, like glue to something. And they won't give it up. But they're in trouble because, you know, I just can't imagine that there's anyway to fabricate an answer here. But here's the bottom line. What the fuels manual tells you, is there's something there that gives you the answer to what happened to flight 800, and that is this. The tank did explode. There's no question that the center line tank exploded. There was an over pressure event, that was a fuel-air event in the tank. I just spent ten minutes saying this can't happen. Well, there is a way that it can happen. Anytime the tank is subjected to a severe amount of energy. For instance, if the aircraft is involved in a mid-air collision, with another airplane, or it crashes on the ground, or even hits the water, what happens to the fuel in the tank is it's slammed against the walls, especially an empty tank like that. And the fuel is misted into the atmosphere. Misted fuel can explode. All you need is a spark, okay. And it can explode, even this safe fuel, at very low temperatures compared to a stable tank..
Bell: - But again, let us be clear. Under normal flight conditions, even ascending, an airplane under power ascending, going through ten to thirteen thousand feet , there would be no way under those conditions that you would get fuel misting in that center tank?
Donaldson - No, what the graphs show you in the fuels manual, is basically, they show you what you could do.. For instance, instead of a 747 we are talking about an F15, for instance, and it does a lot of aggressive acrobatics
Bell: - sure
Donaldson - Then there is a agitated tank figure that drops the temperature about fifty degrees.
Bell: - But that would not be the case with a 747, simply climbing
Donaldson - No, I've never been on a 747 when they pulled any loops or rolls.
Bell: - hey,, all right, all right , Bill . Hold tight, we're at the bottom of the hour. Take a break and we'll be right back. Listen carefully folks. Listen very carefully tonight as you decide what happened to flight 800. I'm Art Bell and, from the high desert, this is coast to coast
Bell: - William Donaldson, Bill Donaldson.. Mr. Donaldson, in your considerable expert opinion, what did bring down flight 800.
Donaldson - Well, jumping to the bottom line, I think the highest probability by far is a missile engagement with external warhead detonation, well outside the hull. A relatively large missile.
Bell: - In other words, a proximity detonation
Donaldson - Right, and most people, you know, don't have a lot of technical knowledge about this stuff. But, modern anti-aircraft weapons, missiles, are designed and are actually far more deadly if they use a proximity fuse and do detonate away from the hull of the aircraft.
Bell: - Why? In other words, the NTSB and everybody else kept looking for a giant hole in the plane where a missile would have penetrated.
Donaldson - Well not only that. When you have a detonation where the fireball actually touches the metal, you get deep, metal pitting from the extremely high velocity gas from the detonation, and scouring they call it, where the metal actually looks like an orange peel or something.
Bell: - They did not find that?
Donaldson - No, what they're doing is they're saying: Well we didn't find that so therefore a missile or a bomb didn't happen here. Okay, and there's a gross, gross fallacy with that. I don't know what a good metaphor would be but, for instance, some of the larger missiles that are in various inventories, are designed to go off as far as forty to sixty feet away or more away from the hull. And if that happens, what you'll get is penetration of the hull with extremely high velocity metal fragments. And depending on the orientation of the missile when its approaching the aircraft, and I think, by the way, Richard Goss gave me a good lead and I went to two investigators that are inside this thing.. I can't tell you who they are or they'd be in deep trouble. But, there is a through hole that enters at L2 door, just a little aft of L2 door, on the left side, the second door back on the left..
Bell: - yes sir
Donaldson - The six inch hole piece of fragment went through and exited above the R2 door. And actually if you look at photographs, you can see that there's a high velocity penetration coming from the inside going through the structural member right above that door.
Bell: - My G-d, now wait a minute. You're telling me, if I'm listening carefully, and hearing this, that there was a large hole in a door, both entry hole and exit hole ...
Donaldson - Right, it actually didn't go through the door, but it was in close proximity. In other words, we had an entry on the left side of the aircraft, just adjacent to, and right next to a window, actually of the L2 door on the left side. This large piece, it had to be at least six inches in diameter, went through the cabin and exited, going through, just above the R2 door. Now that's critical because in the breakup sequence of the aircraft, one of the first major structures that came off the aircraft was the R2 door. Actually its a big piece that contains the door. And, when that happened, it was the beginning of the nose coming off the aircraft, which happened very, very quickly.
Bell: - Mr. Donaldson, how could such a glaring piece of evidence, forensic evidence, not be reported? How can we not no about that until just now?
Donaldson - Listen, I'm not the guy that discovered it. The investigators told me, okay..
Bell: - yes
Donaldson - I mean I can see, I've got color photographs that show the exit hole and its clear as a bell to me because that fragment hit one of the longitudinal stringers in the fuselage above that door with such force that it forced the stringer through the skin of the aircraft from the inside, okay.. If you look at the photograph you'll see what looks like a hatchet cut almost going from the inside out just above that door. Now, I'm going to tell you some stuff that's even worse than that.
Bell: - But before you do, again, I've got to ask you, these investigators that you spoke to, who told you this, who supplied you with the photograph for whatever..
Donaldson - right
Bell: - Why sir, did this not get into the news? Why did this not become an integral part of the investigation? Why was it not reported? Or if it was, why was it ignored?
Donaldson - Well I assume, its the same reason that there's twenty or thirty other similar proofs, if you will, of, to use their vernacular, a criminal act. Probably more like an act of war if it was terrorist or proxies or some other outfit. But, the point is, that in every one of these incidents that I see clearly, with my experience, that it's proof of an engagement of a weapon, they find some way to deny it, or talk around it. And, one of the most ridiculous things I 've ever seen on television was Mr. Kallstrom, the other morning, in one of the morning shows, he's telling this young lady that he was taking on tour around the hanger there with the wreckage in it. He said, well we've done these missile tests and we've proven its not a missile. And he showed her, what I'll call hit plates, when you do test firing of a warhead, at various ranges, you use aluminum sheets and so on, and see what the damage is. Well, what he showed, I mean I could have done that much damage with my twelve gauge shotgun from fifteen yards away. What they tested, obviously, were very small, like a shoulder fired weapons at a distance from the hit plates, and, you know, you've got relatively small holes, less than the size of your fist. What I'm talking about, and what I know happened to that airplane, that airplane was in a train wreck at thirteen thousand seven hundred feet. There's no other way to explain it. The last two days, I've been meticulously graphing the debris field on graph paper.
Bell: - Yes sir
Donaldson - I have the internal documents that were generated by NTSB that shows precisely where every piece of metal went into the water. And I'm going to tell you that what they showed you on that CIA cartoon is a total fabrication. When you study a debris field and do the ballistic geometry on that debris field I'm looking at something that's only seven thousand feet long. It's not broken into three distinct debris fields like they've been telling the public. You know, there's debris from the first explosion, and then the nose came off in one big piece and landed in a hole and then further along the rest of the airplane crashed
Bell: - I saw the cartoon
Donaldson - Okay, that didn't happen. There are two distinct debris fields, not three and this is critical because, that whole cartoon, the only way that they can get professionals to even swallow this line, is if it were some kind of ..an explosion in the center wing tank would not be really very powerful. And it's hard for people to believe in the business that it would take the nose off a 747 to begin with. What I'm going to tell you next indicates that whatever that was, was far, far more powerful than anything that a center wing tank could do.
Bell: - go right ahead
Donaldson - Okay. When you look at the debris field, what you do is you determine the course of the aircraft.. It was flying on a heading of zero seven one true, at thirteen thousand seven hundred feet when this event occurred. When the event happened, and what I'm going to say happened was, a missile approaching from the left, low, front of the aircraft, did a hard left turn, until it was approaching almost perpendicular, slightly below the left wing, turned hard left and detonated in front of and below the left wing tip. The reason I say that is that there's debris in the first part of that debris field that should never be there if it was only a center wing tank explosion. That debris is wing tip antennae debris off the left.. There's an HF antennae on each wing tip. And there's a piece of that in the very first, beginning of the debris field. And then a little further on, you have the upper and lower outboard skin from the left wing. You know, how did that happen? And then, of course, the rest of the wing and the main part of the airplane goes another six thousand feet before it goes into the water. So, that's one indicator. Here's another indicator. When the event occurred, the aircraft didn't break up at the center wing tank first. The first big pieces that hit the water there was one piece of this bar that came out of the center wing tank. I think that was a result of the secondary fuel explosion caused by the weapon going off. But the left, forward cargo compartment, sixteen feet in front of the center wing tank. A big piece of that came off first. And then a little further aft in that lower, left compartment actually was blown from the left side of the aircraft over two thousand feet to the right of the aircraft track, way, way out there.
Bell: - wow
Donaldson - Now, and that's why I describe this more like a train wreck at altitude than it was a center wing tank explosion. You can't get a piece of the left side of the fuselage of the airplane displaced two thousand feet to the right of track with a center wing tank explosion.
Bell: - Have you raised this issue with the NTSB?
Donaldson - No. You're hearing it for the first time. This is a product of a detail study in the last two days that I been doing on the graph material. I was shocked when I saw this. Because, what it means is, within the first month when they started putting this stuff together ... That debris field is a perfect fingerprint for a massive explosion in the sky. It was not a center wing tank explosion only. That was a collateral result. Now here's the other thing. Slow me down if I get to pumped up on this.
Bell: - go right ahead
Donaldson - The nose section that you see sort of tumbling off, falling down, looking like it's intact. That's a total fabrication. That nose section was blown to kingdom come. It came down, not in one big piece, but it came down in groups of five sections of multiple pieces that hit the water. One of those groups of pieces, like six or eight pieces of fuselage, landed way, way off to the right. Again, two thousand feet to the right of the track of the aircraft. Now, they're telling you this nose just kind of tumbled off, sort of broke off and fell in the water.
Bell: - All right. For those who didn't see it. What I saw of this CIA cartoon or graphic representation of what occurred was the plane was going along. It showed a large explosion. The front portion of the aircraft fell forward intact, while the airplane itself actually rose in altitude in this cartoon. And then, of course, came down in the fireball. That could not have happened?
Donaldson - No. The reason they're saying, I think, that it was intact and it just fell in a hole there, is there is no way that you, with the application of physics and science, explain how that whole, big, giant piece of nose was shattered into five major sub components, and that some of them were blown so far off the course of the aircraft. It takes a tremendous amount of energy to do that. That's why I keep going back to this. It's like a train wreck. It's like a freight train hit this thing from the left side. And that's what the debris field is saying. Now the cartoon. The most absurd thing I 've ever seen in my life dealing with aviation was what the CIA put together. That aircraft with all that gross tonnage of the nose coming off will pitch up all right. It'll pitch up instantly in a ninety degree pitch up and the airplane will immediatel, the flat bottom of the wing will hit the wind and the rest of the airplane starts to break up and it's over. It's not going to climb two hundred feet, much less three thousand feet. Remember, when the nose comes off, the throttle controls go with it, all the hydraulic lines are severed, the electrical lines are severed. Everything that the pilot has going back to the engines is cut.
Bell: - All right. Mr. Donaldson, Pierre Salinger, as you well know, stuck his neck way out and claimed he had evidence of a friendly fire missile accident.
Donaldson - right
Bell: - All of a sudden, Pierre Salinger just, sort of, went away. People said he was duped and he just, sort of, went away and you don't hear anymore about it.
Donaldson - right
Bell: - Did Pierre Salinger have it wrong?
Donaldson - The short answer is yes. Because what he did is he jumped to the conclusion that if it was a missile that shot it down, it had to have been a friendly fire incident. And the problem with that, and the problem with the book that was published along the same lines stating the same thing, is that once the main media jumped on that and started trying to fact check it, and there 's no facts that support any military activity of any significance that you could put your finger on. Now there were some submarines operating within that area, but basically our submarines don't have those kind of weapons onboard. I never seriously considered this, once I talked to the chief of staff down in Norfolk, I mean I know the guy socially and he said, hey we had a cruiser about a hundred and thirty miles out and they were coming home. They were out of range. We just didn't have any assets in the area. There was a P3 airborne in the area that shows up on the radar tapes and so on. Remember, I'm a naval officer. I'm in retirement as a regular officer. I could be recalled tomorrow if the commander in chief said he wanted to do that.
Bell: - And after this show, you may be.
Donaldson - I know, I been thinking about it.
Bell: - ah
Donaldson - The point that I'm making is, the fact that it wasn't the navy that did it, doesn't mean that there wasn't a missile fired.
Bell: - I understand
Donaldson - The physical facts tell me, almost without a shadow of a doubt, and I'm not even talking about all these eyewitnesses that I've interviewed here yet, there was a major event that was caused by a missile on that aircraft. And there may have been two. There are eyewitnesses that saw two launches. And I think that one was launched vertically. Goss saw that one, and so did Major Meyers. But when you go further to the east, I had an eyewitness that I wanted to get on with you, but he's working early in the morning and couldn't do it, he was out, way, way up the beach and he saw a missile going out at forty five degree angle. We haven't talked about it yet but the other pilot with Meyers in that helo thought he saw a missile coming from the left. Meyers saw one coming from the right.
Bell: - That would have been his copilot?
Donaldson - Right. I haven't talked to him. He works for one of the government agencies and they basically told him to stay out of this.
Bell: - Mr. Donaldson, you believe it was a terrorist missile or missiles that took this plane down?
Donaldson - Through logic, yes. And I can't imagine that there really is anything else that could have been. And there's a reason for this. In a way, it fits a fingerprint there because of the tactics that were used. What I'm getting as a firing position is about four nautical miles, straight out from where Richard Goss was sitting there at the West Hampton Yacht Club. That puts it about three nautical miles offshore. And the reason I can find that is, unlike their testimony of the way the FBI did the investigation, I went up there with GPS satellite equipment and ran these people down. I went out to the site that they were at. I took bearing line information to where they first saw a flare or missile on the surface. I took that bearing and put in on charts. And I've got Suffolk County police reports from all up and down the coast. And almost to a tee, all these people saw something, very close to the beach being launched. In fact, I've got witnesses that are sixty years old that thought that the stuff came right off the beach itself. They were on the back side of the barrier beach and they go running, huffing and puffing over the sand dune to look down and see where the heck this damn thing came from.
Bell: - At what altitude was that plane when the described, high detonation, explosion occurred?
Donaldson - I'm saying it was at thirteen thousand seven hundred feet. I've watched the radar tape and that's when the transponder went dead. It was indicating exactly three hundred and eighty knots.
Bell: - thirteen five, thirteen five
Donaldson - thirteen seven,
Bell: - What kind of missile could do that?
Donaldson - In my last letter to Mr. Hall, I pointed out a scenario where I picked one. And that's really all it is. I don't have physical evidence of a missile, other than....
Bell: - That's fine, what did you pick?
Donaldson - Okay, I picked the Iranian Aim 54 A Phoenix. That missile weighs nine hundred and eighty five pounds. It's got it's own onboard terminal radar guidance system. In other words, once the missile is fired, it's totally all by itself..
Bell: - Capable of reaching what altitude?
Donaldson - Oh, that missile can reach a hundred thousand feet.
Bell: - a hundred thousand feet. All right, Mr. Donaldson. Standby, we are at the top of the hour. When we come back shortly, we are going to try to get the phone lines open. I'm Art Bell and this is coast to coast AM.
Bell: - Mr. Donaldson, Bill, welcome back. Here's a fax, Bill. Your Guest, Mr. Donaldson, has not mentioned the numerous military aircraft that have exploded due to defects in their fuel tanks, in other words, KC135's , B52's. Some have exploded due to faulty fuel pumps. Is your guest positive that the air conditioning compressor on the 747 was not in any way defective? Defective air conditioners can run very hot.
Donaldson - Okay, there's two answers to that question.
Bell: - All right
Donaldson - There are, on record, three KC135 explosions that were dating back fifteen years or more. You have to realize that the KC135 is a Boeing 707 that is all fuel tank. It is loaded from nose to tail with high pressure pumps. Its mission is to transfer fuel to B52's and a lot of big aircraft in the air force
Bell: - right , refueling, yes
Donaldson - Right, air to air refueling. Now, the key to that is, and where it became very misleading when Mr. Hall presented that to congress as an answer that yes, there has been explosions. It took me five minutes to find this out when I called the air force safety center. Everyone of those airplanes that blew up were fueled with JP4. JP4 was the old fuel that is just as volatile as the regular gasoline you put in your car.
Bell: - Not like the Jet A1?
Donaldson - No, the difference is like dynamite and fuel oil. I mean there's a tremendous difference.
Bell: - All right, end of that story. The second point was....are you sure the air conditioning compressor was not faulty and particularly hot?
Donaldson - The straight answer to that is no. I don't think anybody can say that. Some of those packs were just about intact when they found them. And I have a very strong suspicion that if the NTSB could find anything that would support that idea that it would be made known immediately.
Bell: - You bet. The following from a pilot. The CIA tape shows the 747's nose breaking loose, yet the fuselage falls nose downward. As a pilot for thirty five years, it seems more likely that it would have been instantly tail heavy due to a major shift in the aircraft's....
Donaldson - center of gravity
Bell: - ..center of gravity. That's what he says here. Another CIA, FBI lie.
Donaldson - That's true
Bell: - Would you concur?
Donaldson - I just did
Bell: - Yeah, you did.
Donaldson - Let me tell you something here. For those who don't know a lot about aerodynamics, there's a basic concept of an aircraft in flight, a regular conventionally designed airplane like the 747. When it's in flight, it's being held up by lift that's generated on the wing, obviously. That's called the center of lift. And if you think of the airplane as a see saw balancing across the center of lift, which is the wing. The tail plane is always pushing down. The aircraft is designed to be always a little bit nose heavy across the center of lift to give positive stability. Now, what the pilot's referring to and he's a hundred percent correct here, when you suddenly lose all that gross tonnage in the front of the wing, virtually everything forward of the wing,..
Bell: - right
Donaldson - That wing is lifting over seven hundred fifty thousand pounds right after takeoff like that. So now you've cut the see saw in half and the fulcrum of the see saw is pushing up with three quarter of a million pounds of push up. The tail is pushing down trying to balance what used to be the nose that's no longer there. So you instantly get a snap on the airframe where it pitches right into the wind. And I can tell you from talking to the medical examiner, I don't want to get to graphic here, almost everybody died instantly in the airplane from the violent whiplash when that happened.
Bell: - All right. I would like to take some calls if we might. East of the Rockies you're on the air with Bill Donaldson. Hello
Caller - Hello, am I on, Art?
Bell: - Yes sir, where are you?
Caller - My name is Denny. I'm from the Philadelphia area.
Bell: - okay
Caller - I drive a truck all night Art. I think I have an interesting piece of information here. When this crash happened, the local radio station here was receiving a lot of calls from people out of the New York area. And one in particular that stuck in my mind was a gentleman had just come in, he was very excited and they were out on a party boat fishing. He claimed that while they were out their fishing, that there was a particular trawler that had been zigzagging in and out of the party boats. What was noticeable about it was that it had no flags, no markings or lights on it. It headed off into the distance after a little while and they packed up and they were heading in and he said that he saw a missile coming up from the general direction of where this boat was. And that's all I have to say.
Bell: - Bill, are you familiar with that report at all?
Donaldson - No. The problem is the only people that have access to all that is the police agencies up there and the FBI. If it's like some of these other witnesses that I have interviewed, it seems like they sit on that stuff. I did interview Roland Penney who was at sea when this happened. He went right out to the crash site. What he told me was that he almost got run over by a tug pulling a barge with it's lights off. So, there was a lot of suspicious boat activity in the immediate area. You have to understand, that's a major shipping lane. Just like it's an air corridor to Europe, it's a shipping corridor all up and down the east coast and also offshore. So, the amount of surface traffic is just horrendous. I appreciate that input, from, who was it, Denny?
Bell: - Yes
Donaldson - That's a good tip. I wish I could track all these individuals down and get them down on audio tape and put it all together. But, it's kind of tough with one guy doing all this.
Bell: - Yes it is. West of the Rockies, you're on the air with Bill Donaldson. Hello.
Caller - Yeah, hello?
Bell: - Where are you?
Caller - My name is Dave. I'm calling from Los Angeles.
Bell: - All right.
Caller - With all the talk about it possibly having been a missile that took down the plane, who was on the plane? Could there have been someone on there that was there a congressman or wasn't there someone from the government that was on the plane?
Donaldson - I think there were reports of that at first but I don't think it panned out. The FBI, I know, did detail, at least they claim that they have done detail, interviews of every passenger family member. None of that has surfaced that there wasà.And I really think this is too horrendous an event to blame on one passenger as a target unless you were talking about somebody like a head of state or something.
Bell: - All right, I realize that this is going to call for conjecture but we are imagining tonight that the FBI, the CIA, the NTSB and all of this investigation has been, in effect, muzzled, covered up . It's a lie. That's what you said a little while ago. To what end, Mr. Donaldson?
Donaldson - Okay.
Bell: - To what end?
Donaldson - You can put the event in a time sequence of when it happened. I can put a little conjecture on the table here. First of all, look back on this administration's history dealing with terrorism. We had the event in Saudi Arabia. There was a bombing where four or five service members died. And then the Khobar Towers where it was nineteen or twenty or whatever it was.
Bell: - yeah
Donaldson - We did not respond. All we did was retreat from the Khobar Towers. I'm talking about we as a country, as a military response.
Bell: - yes
Donaldson - We moved those guys into the desert. Then you've got the democratic convention going down. Then, all of a sudden, bang. Flight 800 goes in. There's literally hundreds of witnesses telling the police that they saw ascending flares. You've heard it all.
Bell: - sure
Donaldson - Now here's what I think, as a military officer, should have happened. What should have happened is the department of defense should have been put on alert and should have been the lead until they could determine that there was not a missile involved, okay. But instead, the white house put one of the closest friends of Al Gore, probably that he's got, Jim Hall of the NTSB, the political leadership of the NTSB in charge, in almost apparent competition with the FBI. That's where it went down. I honestly think that there was a directive, probably from the white house, that told them that no matter what you find, cool it until after the election. Or, at least until the election is in the bag. And I know that's a dreadful thing for somebody to say but everything appears that way. And I say that because there's evidence of it. One of the strangest things I've ever seen is the President of the United States signed a directive from the white house, about the time Pierre Salinger went public with his allegations, that withdrew whistle blower protection act status for all the navy personnel involved in the recovery process.
Bell: - Why the hell would he do that?
Donaldson - They even put it on the Internet, on the white house page until somebody said, hey what's that, and they jerked it. I mean, I got a copy of it from, I'll just say, some lawyers. The key here is it was a ridiculous thing to do unless you don't understand the way the military works. On active duty, you're under the UCMJ, the uniform code of military justice. And as long as the order that you're given is a legal order, I mean, they can order those sailors not to talk to anybody. But as soon as one of them figured out it was a cover up, under the UCMJ you could actually violate the order and say, hey this is wrong, it is morally wrong and it's an illegal order and I'm going to talk about it.
Bell: - All right. Here's something else somebody would ask, and so I will ask. If it had been a terrorist act. Terrorism is not much good unless you know that it's terrorism.
Donaldson - right
Bell: - Now, most acts are followed by some claim of responsibility, usually accompanied with proof.
Donaldson - right
Bell: - Some sort of proof. Here we have, that I'm aware of, nothing of the sort. So, what good the terrorism unless you have terrified people, unless they have the knowledge that an act of terrorism has occurred. Why nobody taking claim?
Donaldson - Okay, there's a relatively good answer to that. Number one, I'm not sure that there weren't claims. There was a hubbub of activity right after the event, within a day or two that there had been a prediction made by one of these groups of fundamentalists. They sent a comunique to a newspaper in Egypt. The white house immediately denied it had anything to do with flight 800, which I thought was a little strange at the time. But let's say that they didn't take public credit. What you've really got here is intimidation of the United States Government. Governments, very often, do not tell the public what's going on in back channel communications. In other words..
Bell: - that's true
Donaldson - all this stuff that happens between us and Israel and the Palestinian situation, about ninety nine percent of it is sealed from public view, the communications. There is no way for you and I to know that whoever did this did not make it explicitly clear to the government of the United States and why it was done. And here's the terrifying thing to me and one of the reason's why I'm in this. The NTSB has created a scenario here where they've already warned the country, in fact the world, that there's a possibility that the center wing tanks can explode unexpectedly.
Bell: - Yes
Donaldson - Let's say we have a group that says, okay, if you don't cave into Arafat or whatever demand du jour is made from that part of the world, we'll do it again. That's the biggest nightmare I can think of for a President of the United States.
Bell: - Sure, well, of course. And would it be made public. The answer is clearly no.
Donaldson - right
Bell: - Clearly, no. I took, exactly one week after flight 800 went down, I flew out of Kennedy on a TWA 747 to Europe. And it was, believe me, white knuckle all the way until we were way up at cruising altitude.
Donaldson - right
Bell: - And at that point, there was tremendously increased security on the ground. I mean they went through every little minutia. They looked at everything.
Donaldson - right
Bell: - And that is all, sort of, now gone away. Yes, there's a little increased security but, basically, we're almost back to where we were before all this occurred. So, what has been the sum total of our action with regard to this aircraft going down?
Donaldson - Well, I don't see any. And I see seventy million dollars that they were real proud of, I don't know that they were real proud of it, but they were asked a question in that joint press conference when they announced that the FBI was dropping out. But seventy million bucks and what 's the end result? All I see is really a PR operation directed at the American people by the political authorities of various departments in the government.
Bell: - By are own government
Donaldson - I've personally been involved in some of these things in the Mediterranean dealing with these folks with military operations and there's one thing that I really believe in my heart and that is a strong forward presence and an immediate accountability. For instance, harking back to the Reagan situation with Khadafi. President Reagan delivered one of the biggest air raids in history in a short one day period in Libya based on the death of one American soldier in a cafe in Germany. He had intelligence that Libya was involved in a cafe bombing where one of our soldiers died. I know, because I was in sixth fleet at the time. We had two carriers on full alpha strikes into what used to be Wheelis air force base. We left that place in a total rubble. A lot of the effectiveness of what we did on that one raid was never reported because the access to the media was limited.
Bell: - sure
Donaldson - From the point of view of the terrorist, or a rogue state, when Ronald Reagan said something, you listened. I think we all need to learn that lesson every once in a while. We need a strong President that....you prevent these things being strong and ready.
Bell: - And of course, we have, even the most recent fracas with Iraq with regard to inspections. Our inspectors were not allowed to inspect for the longest period of time while they were no doubt moving around whatever they wanted. Then, we began to move a lot of military hardware and Iraq said okay we give in, we give in completely , come on back. They came back and now they're not allowed to inspect and we look like a great, big, paper tiger.
Donaldson - right
Bell: - So, you're well to point out the difference in administrations and the way they react to threat. All right, we're going to continue with Bill Donaldson as we discuss Flight 800 and we're going to try and discern, when we come back, where we should go, what we should do, or is it case closed? Here's the cartoon. Believe it, or not. This is coast to coast, AM.
Bell: - Back now to Bill Donaldson. Thanks for hanging in with us Bill.
Donaldson - Oh, I've enjoyed it.
Bell: - All right, a lot of calls here. A lot of people want to talk to you. So, lets go to them. West of the Rockies, you're on the air with Bill Donaldson. Hello.
Caller - Hi, this is Ralph from Escondido. I'm an engineer and I have a couple of technical questions.
Bell: - sure
Caller - It's a great presentation. First, doesn't the air force use GN2, gaseous nitrogen to pasivate it's empty fuel tanks to prevent sparks?
Donaldson - Yes
Caller - You mentioned you thought the missile was an Iranian Aim XXX Phoenix missile
Bell: - No, no, no. He said he used that as an example of one that would have worked.
Donaldson - Right, but it is a real possibility of a threat. When the Shah of Iran was still in power, he bought many F14's that were in production. We sold him the missile. That missile was an air to air missile, but it can be relatively easily converted to a surface firing missile and in fact was considered by the navy, back in 1970 to do that, as a point defense weapon.
Caller - But it would have to be modified because, as you said, it's an over the horizon, air to air missile. Is there any evidence that they have converted a Phoenix to ground to air?
Donaldson - Yeah, the problem is that we probably wouldn't get the evidence because it's relatively simple. What you have do is take the launching rail off the aircraft, and there's a cooling system that goes to the seeker head on the missile that would have to be taken off. But with about five hundred pounds of hardware and missile rail, you could bolt it to a superstructure of a small boat and you have a deadly, I mean a really deadly, anti-aircraft weapon.
Caller - Now, have you thought about taking this whole scenario to one of these forensic animators and making your own animation and flooding the country with it, just the way the CIA did?
Donaldson - Well, yeah, but there are a few bucks involved and I'm just a retired O five.
Bell: - All right, you've gone to some members of congress?
Donaldson - Yes, and I'm glad you brought that up. The members of congress, one in particular that I talked to was Mr. Traficant from the 17th district of Ohio. He's a democrat and very keenly aware of this situation. Long story short, he interceded with the Chairman of the House Sub Committee on Aviation, Mr. James Duncan from Tennessee.
Bell: - Right
Donaldson - Congressman Duncan, essentially, assigned congressman Traficant the duty to further investigate this mishap. Whatever I'm able to come up with, I'm in almost daily communication with his chief of staff and we're working the problem. Now, back to the air force question. That's a very good question because it's one of the things that Mr. Hall surfaced as a solution to this. The problem is that the air force went to the Nitrogen innurity back when the military was using JP4 in the Vietnam era. In those days, if you were going to land in, say South Vietnam, and any one of the Vietcong happened to have a rifle loaded with tracers
Bell: - the magic bullet
Donaldson - Exactly, one single tracer through a partially empty JP4 tank. You do have volatile fumes in there, particularly when the fuel's cold and the airplane's descending. There's a window there where the golden beebee could get you a whole big airplane. And they decided to engineer around that with their C5, and there maybe some combat aircraft too that have Nitrogen.
Bell: - But again, with JP1, which is what the TWA Flight 800 had
Donaldson - Yeah, it's JetA1
Bell: - It's JetA1
Donaldson - JP is a military
Bell: - I'm sorry, A1. There is no way, short of, you said, an extreme trauma, as in shrapnel, for example, passing through the tank.
Donaldson - Or a shock wave from the bursting weapon. When a high explosive goes off close to an aircraft, and I know from personal experience in North Vietnam. I had an eighty five millimeter round go off, probably eighty or ninety feet away from the aircraft and I almost lost the fillings out of my teeth. It really, really rattles the airplane. And when I landed back aboard the Intrepid, I didn't have a single hole in the airplane. But believe me, it made me a believer in anti-aircraft ordinance.
Bell: - Again, so we're clear, with all of your expertise, and all of your knowledge and all the work you've done on this thus far, you flat out declare that the CIA depiction of what occurred, and the conclusions that they have given to the American people to be flat out lies.
Donaldson - Right, and there's a reason that they did this. They have a tremendous problem with all these eyewitnesses, number one, what they saw. They found a way, if you pay close attention to that tape, they tried to use the fact that people heard sounds before they looked and saw something. And when you do the speed of sound analysis from the actual crash point, the closest point of land would be like forty two to forty four seconds of sound travel time from the airplane explosion point. Now, they jumped on that. They said, okay these people couldn't have possibly seen anything except after the fact because of this distance there. The fatal flaw is that the people I talked to didn't hear the explosion out at sea, they heard missile launch noises which you get a bang, thundering noise, and then a crackling sound as the missile goes supersonic and goes outbound. And there's one eyewitness we didn't get in here would tell you he heard a boom, crackle and about five seconds later a boom, crackle and then he sees one missile going outbound at a forty five degree angle disappearing, exploding. Then, he sees the parts falling on fire, coming through a thin, under cast. Then he hears two more explosions. See, and that's the problem. The CIA tape, uh, they didn't talk to those people that were very explicit about this and really do a good sound analysis.
Bell: - I'm curious, Mr. Donaldson. Why would the CIA, just out of curiosity, be the one charged with coming up with an animation for an investigation that was conducted by the FBI?
Donaldson - Because, it's an impressive name. This whole thing is a public relations stunt that cost the American taxpayer seventy million bucks. That's the bottom line. Let me tell you, I hate to be in a position to be running down employees of any of these agencies because ninety nine percent of them are great Americans. I honestly believe and feel that. I'm a federal guy myself. But what's happened is, the political leadership has got a priority mission. And that mission is to take flight 800 and snap the book shut on history on that baby and put it on the shelf.
Bell: - That's what happened. How do we keep the book from closing?
Donaldson - Well the best way to do that is to follow the constitution. I hate to be all this melodramatic about it. Our congressman are us. They're our last chance to seek justice in this thing, if you will, or to rectify the record. And, I think the best way to get interest in the aviation sub committee is a post card, or something like that, if people are really interested in flight 800. The best thing that can happen is if they convene a congressional inquiry or at least hearings on this thing.
Bell: - Are there any particular representatives that you would think would be
Donaldson - The best to remember would be the chairman of the aviation sub committee in the house because they've already taken some action. That's Mr. James Duncan from Tennessee. If you address something to him, all you'd have to do is say 'Congressman Duncan, House of Representatives, Chairman Aviation Sub Committee'. It'll get to the committee, it'll get to the staff. They'll realize that there's someone awake out here and still concerned about this issue.
Bell: - Mr. Donaldson, do you want to be subpoenaed?
Donaldson - Oh, I don't care. You mean by them, yeah.
Bell: - Yes
Donaldson - Oh sure. I was wondering who you meant was going to subpoena me. Sure, in fact, I would expect that I would be in a committee hearing.
Bell: - All right. Would it be reasonable that listeners, reacting to what they have heard tonight, the expert testimony, would write to the chairman of the aviation sub committee, James Duncan, and request that hearings be held and that you specifically be subpoenaed.
Donaldson - Well, I don't know that you'd even have to worry about me because I'm already into this thing up to my eyebrows and I would imagine that I would be on one of the panels already. But, I'm not looking for personal recognition and I just don't want to leave anybody with that impression. This is about constitutional abuse, I think. And it's time that some of the folks that get to this elite feeling where they think that they can get away with this speed brakes need to be put out on them, that's all.
Bell: - All right. First time caller line, you're on the air with Bill Donaldson and Art Bell, hello?
Caller - Hello?
Bell: - Where are you?
Caller - I'm calling from Washington State.
Bell: - All right.
Caller - I work for the Boeing company in Everett and I'm a toolmaker. I work out in production sometimes. I've been inside the center fuel tanks. As you described, they're six feet tall. I'm five ten, I can walk through there. And I know people who work for the company are going to say good things about the product, but I know for a fact that safety is built into those airplanes with redundancy. I mean you've got four or five backup systems to take care of things. They're a well built airplane. I just think that what's going on is that they've just been trying to cover it up and I think what the government needs to do is come forward and tell the people that, hey we're not immune to worldwide terrorism, that they can hit here too. And I think that's what's happened.
Bell: - Well I think that to imagine, or even to suggest publicly that it might have been terrorism or to conclude that it might have been terrorism, without specifically being able to point a finger and know who did it and who to go after, would have such a negative impact on the aircraft industry, on tourism, on our own national morale, that they might be, indeed, inclined to continue a lie. Is that out of line, Mr. Donaldson?
Donaldson - No, I don't think so. And to the gentleman that called, he's exactly right. The aircraft is probably the safest way a human being can move across the face of the earth, statistically. And really that's the crux of the government's problem, trying to pin it on the airplane, because it is so safe. For instance, there's no wiring in that center line tank that can provide the spark, number one. And things like the pumps that pump the fuel out of the tank are mounted outside the tank. It's only the impeller that's on the inside.
Bell: - There are some who have speculated that the impeller somehow broke loose and penetrated the tank.
Donaldson - I've seen them speculate on everything from UFO's to meteor impacts. I mean, when the chief safety guy in aviation for the United States surfaces maybe it got hit by a meteor, we're all in trouble. That's not professional and it's ludicrous.
Bell: - Wild card line , you're on the air with Bill Donaldson, hello?
Caller - This is Gabriel in LA
Bell: - Yes sir.
Caller - Okay. I applaud you Bill on the research you've done. It's a great service. It's an amazing story. Three questions, real quick. If the CIA and the FBI know this was an attack, does that automatically mean Janet Reno or the President know...are informed of this?
Donaldson - Well, we're in supposition here. My personal answer would be I just can't imagine, knowing the command structure. I know the way it works in the military. If we get attacked in the military, anywhere in the world, we have a duty to inform the white house via flash precedence message within five minutes.
Caller - And also the justice department?
Donaldson - Justice, they've got to be involved because the FBI.
Caller - okay
Donaldson - I can tell you all kinds of things. The EGIS equipment, for instance, that the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco was using to sniff chemicals when that material was brought up from the sea floor is the best technology for that in the world. They had at least twelve positive hits for high explosive residue on this aluminum. The manufacturer is telling me that it is extremely rare on a piece of slick aluminum to get a false positive. What happened was Janet Reno had a meeting and allegedly Mr. Hall, this is all in a published article that I read, and to get to the quick bottom line is they got these twelve hits and allegedly Mr. Kallstrom said 'hey this is evidence'. 'This is physical evidence of a quote, criminal act'. Allegedly, they turned this around and said we have to corroborate it with further backup analysis. Now, the problem with doing that is the trace levels were so low because this stuff goes into solution in saltwater real fast to begin with and it was washed in fresh water before they sniffed it. They did get the hits, but now, its so nebulous that unless you use the same equipment you probably won't get the hit again. And the way they do those counter checks is they use a different method. And the other method was less sensitive than the tactical equipment that was used there, when they brought the stuff ashore. The bottom line is, they only got two positives when they rechecked with inferior equipment at the FBI lab. And based on that they said those two positives were from inside the cabin and they tied it to a dog training test that was done in St. Louis which, again, is stretching the imagination pretty far.
Caller - Okay, second question. You painted the picture of how easy it would be, this is a surface to air situation, for a terrorist, or some entity to come in, set up a rocket launch and escape.
Donaldson - Tactically, it would be extremely easy. If you ask me, could I do it if I had access to the right weapon, yeah. And the way to do it would be to use a ship that's probably seventy or eighty feet long, a small boat or a small ship. The timing is perfect for a terrorist act because the sun was literally going down when the missile was fired. It was fired, I believe from the data I've got, from inland to sea. So, if you miss, the weapon goes way out to sea. But if you hit, the chaos that is created tactically, would allow anybody to escape because everybody's attention immediately goes to a rescue effort. The fire is just so awesome. You can see it from a hundred and fifty miles away at high altitude in an airplane.
Bell: - Caller, if you have another question, I'm going to have to hold you over. Do you want to hold?
Caller - Yes
Bell: - Mr. Donaldson, we have yet one hour to go. Is there a way people can contact you?
Donaldson - Probably the best way to do that would be through accuracy in media in Washington, DC. I hate to give out my personal number.
Bell: - aw, don't do that. Can you give their number?
Donaldson - With the size of your audience, I may overwhelm them. I don't have it right handy. I can get it though, shortly.
Bell: - All right, very good. People can find the accuracy in media number in Washington DC anyway. And short of that folks, Mr. Donaldson suggests you jot off a postcard or a letter to the Chairman of the Aviation Subcommittee, James Duncan, and urge a congressional investigation, correct?
Donaldson - Right, there is already a low level investigation going on. But what they need to do is to complete that and after the NTSB comes in with their findings, go into committee hearings.
Bell: - Good enough. Hold on, we'll be right back to you. This is coast to coast AM.
Bell: - All right, back now to Bill Donaldson. Bill, I'm glad you've stayed with us. A few faxed questions, and then back to the phones. From David in Anchorage, Alaska: Normally when an aircraft such as the B747 has major accident, the first thing the FAA does is ground them all until they figure out what's wrong. In this case, not only did it not happen, but very little at all has been heard from Boeing.
Donaldson - That's true. Let me explain something. The average person doesn't realize the effect the NTSB has, or the authority they have by law, to do these investigations. The worst thing that can happen to Boeing or to TWA is to make a public statement that is divisive or not totally supportive of the NTSB. If they do that, the NTSB has the authority to sever them from the investigation. And that means that their investigators, their corporate investigators, are no longer privy to the inside information. Now, that's assuming that they really are to begin with. It leaves them very vulnerable. So, you're not going to hear anything that's negative come from either Boeing or TWA until there's a final resolution. And then they have to worry about the next accident and whether there's any pay backs. So, I hate to be so brutally blunt about this, but it's a typical question 'Why doesn't Boeing stand up to em? Why doesn't TWA?' They really can't because they have a fiduciary duty to their stockholders and the government's got the ultimate big hammer.
Bell: - All right, and this fax, Art, as I recall, flight 800 took the place of another 747 that was delayed. And I often wondered, who or what the other passenger list, the other plane was. Do you know anything about that?
Donaldson - I think there's some truth to the fact that EL Al, that was reported pretty quickly, that they were in the same block time and they slid for maintenance reasons, or some other reason for at least thirty minutes. And there was immediate supposition that maybe Netanyahu, or one of the Israeli officials was on board. In fact, I thought that was a possibility for quite a while until I was able to track down where Netanyahu was. He was in Tel Aviv the day before and he was in Egypt the day after. But, it' s not unusual for Israeli government officials to travel EL AL without announcing their travel plans. That would have been, obviously, a double hit if you're looking at it from the terrorist point of view.
Bell: - Sure, I believe that the only major airlines never to experience a terrorist incident would be EL Al. Isn't that correct?
Donaldson - As far as I know because, in fact, I can tell you, being stationed in Italy, if you remember that one incident where, I think it was an American nine year old girl killed. It was a terrorist attack directly on the airport waiting area in Rome. In fact, there was a simultaneous attack, I think, in another European city. In any case, what I'm getting at here is the reporting that came out of that incident probably led people to believe that it was the Italian security people that gunned down these, I think it was four or six, terrorists that were rolling hand grenades into the crowd, literally. But it wasn't. It was EL Al undercover security people that were working as ticket agents or things like that. They pulled UZI submachine guns and they did those people in, right there in front of the world. And it's that kind of security that, their security is extremely good. We just don't have anything that touches it. And, they have to have that because they're just a small country with four million people and they' re the constant target of these people.
Bell: - Yeah, I was in Jerusalem about two months ago and it seemed like just about every other person carried a gun.
Donaldson - Right, and you know the irony here. It's the old American west idea in a way. If everybody's armed, you end up with a real polite society.
Bell: - That's right. First time caller line, you're on the air with Bill Donaldson, good morning.
Caller - Hello Mr. Donaldson
Donaldson - Yes sir.
Caller - Your information is very compelling and especially the debris field. Briefly, I have two points that I'd like you to comment on.
Bell: - Where are you caller?
Caller - I'm calling from Ohio.
Bell: - All right.
Caller - I have a close relative who is a pilot for TWA. And a couple of months ago he lent me a copy of the book 'Downing of TWA Flight 800', which I think everybody should read. First, the book describes some coordinated military exercises in the area. And second, it also reports about FBI seizure and cover up of evidence of an orange missile fuel residue found on seat fabric in the suspected missile path through the cabin. Can you shed any light on these points?
Donaldson - As to the first part, that book had a large leap in logic on that military exercise. There just isn't any real evidence that that occurred, that there was a big military exercise out there. Now, the residue on the seats, I don't know really how to answer that without having any access to the alleged test on the stuff. But the seats in that area were in a very high impact zone. And there is a hole, the one I described, goes right through that area, okay.
Bell: - uh, huh
Donaldson - Now, I just give that one a tossup because I hate to say that it was rocket fuel or any one particular thing. You know the FBI is saying that it was nothing but gum residue or adhesive residue. That's possible too. I can't answer that one with any kind of certainty.
Caller - Yes. Bill, the book had put forth an explanation of a missile with an inactive warhead passing through the cabin. Do you agree with that?
Donaldson - I see way too much damage for that. First of all, the hole is only about six inches in diameter.
Bell: - So that you don't believe that kinetic energy was involved? Or at least that is to say, non explosive.
Donaldson - It's technically possible because a missile can be traveling three times the speed of sound and if it hits main structural parts of the aircraft it could deliver what would ultimately be a serious or fatal blow. But, I see in this debris field, this thing just totally was disintegrated right from the very beginning, and is a wide fanned area of everything. I mean seats. All kinds of parts from outside the airplane and inside the airplane. In fact the first ten pieces of debris there's only one piece of external debris in the first ten. In other words, you get stuff from inside the cabin. So, the integrity of the cabin was immediately lost. The best way to describe this when you look at it is, it was like a freight train. I don't know that an inert missile; I think that the airplane would fly further and would shed parts for a lot longer time if that's what hit the airplane.
Bell: - All right. Wild card line you're on the air with Bill Donaldson. Hello, where are you , please?
Caller - My name is Gabriel in LA
Bell: - Yes , Gabriel
Caller - I wanted to follow up on what we were talking about before but I justà.
Bell: - Oh no, Gabriel, Gabriel, you're only allowed to call once. I appreciate the effort but that's a hard fast rule. East of the rockies, you're on the air with Bill Donaldson.
Caller - Hi, this is Ron in Houston.
Bell: - Yes Ron.
Caller - I want to go back to this thing, you mentioned an EL AL airplane. I have a friend who's wife is pretty far up in, I think, British. I don't know how far up but connected enough that this is the rumor I heard through him that was going around the airline industry right after that happened. As a matter of fact Art, it kind of tied in because I was listening to you the night before that it happened. A lady called in and the moment that our esteemed President was informed of this he paled and got really shaky and was really shaken up badly. He was kind of panicky from what I'd heard. But anyway, there was two TWA airliners on the path, one right in front of the other one. One of them went up to take off and it started to take off it experienced some minor difficulties and since there was a TWA flight right behind it, it could drop off, let that TWA flight take off. And then if it could correct it's problems, it could go on and enter the flight pattern behind that airplane and leave, and there would be no record of it. And that is, in fact, what happened. Flight 800 came up second but the first one supposedly was headed for Tel Aviv and it was full of a lot of high ranking Israeli dignitaries and political powers. And I don't know if that is kicking a dead horse that you've already talked about but
Donaldson - That's my point. In fact, when you look at the radar, Flight 900 was only about ten miles behind Flight 800 when it went down. And now that you've mentioned that, I think I need to check and see where the destination of Flight 900 was and if that happened as you've described because that's a very interesting scenario that could lead to motive a little better.
Bell: - West of the rockies, you're on the air with Bill Donaldson. Good morning.
Caller - Good morning Art
Bell: - Hi, where are you?
Caller - I'm Tim , calling from Spokane , Washington.
Bell: - Yes, Tim
Caller - I spent a number of years over in Germany with the US Army and I was a redeye missile teamsheet. These are the shoulder fired sort of like a bazooka, light
Donaldson - Predecessor to the stinger.
Caller - Right, the stinger replaced it. But the redeye, a lot of them used to be stored at the Army depo, right around the border of Germany and France. And during our tour of duty over there, one of our responsibilities was to go over there and guard that place. In our indoctrination, one of the first things they told us was that people would just walk into that place. It was like a supermarket. They had a lot of security measures but it seemed that redeye missiles, the stingers, toe missiles , would just walk out of the place. And so it would be very easy for somebody to get a hold of something like that on the black market, I'm sure.
Bell: - All right. That's a pretty good question. Bill, how hard would it be for you , you've got a big military background, to get hold of a missile that could do what had to be done to bring down Flight 800? If you had money, and set out to do it, could you get it?
Donaldson - With the Soviet Union breaking up and with all the subordinate countries that it broke down into, with their various missile and military inventories, the answer is probably yes. If you're a multimillionaire, maybe from the Middle East, you might be able to pull off a buy of some kind and maybe even finance something like a ship at sea, or whatever. You know, all that is pretty much speculation. The one thing that I do want to address about the redeye and the stinger is that I don't think that either one of those missiles could have possibly been the culprit here because they have tiny warheads. They're very small and they're obviously designed to be shoulder fired. You couldn't put a nine hundred pound missile on your shoulder and launch it. But you could disguise something like that very easily on a boat, under a lifeboat or a life raft, unmask it and fire it when you're in range. So, I just wanted to say that It's not likely that it 's a shoulder fired heat seeker cause it would have to be the golden beebee to even get to the altitude number one. And when it got there about the best it would do cripple one engine. The pilot would turn around and go back and land and probably everybody would have been fine.
Bell: - So it would take a lot more explosive power?
Donaldson - Oh yeah, what I'm looking at in this debris field is far more than what you're going to get out of a kerosene pop in a tank, or a shoulder fired, small little missile.
Bell: - All right. First time caller line, you're on the air with Bill Donaldson, Hi?
Caller - Hi, my name is Joe, calling from Fairbanks, Alaska.
Bell: - Yes sir
Caller - On June, 1997, I received this letter from James Wright. He said, drawing upon his thirty years plus experience in the military, he said the US Navy and Army were conducting a final exceptance test of an AGCC system in that area and they did launch and antimissile missile which brought down that aircraft.
Donaldson - Yeah, that's basically the story line that
Bell: - Pierre Salinger
Donaldson - Yeah, and I think in that time a lot of people jumped on it because it seemed logical. But, the one thing a lot of the liberal media likes to do is, sort of, step on the military when they get a chance, it seems. And I really think they did dig into this pretty quick. They just couldn't come up with anything. Like I said earlier in the show, I personally knew the Chief of Staff down in Airlant. That's the Navy command that owns all the aircraft carriers on the east coast. They were baffled about this. The ships just weren't there, that's the bottom line.
Bell: - The fact that Pierre Salinger made such a big splash when he made his announcement and then, of course, later was, very much, discredited. Didn't all that make it an awful lot easier for the CIA and the FBI to come along later and say..
Donaldson - yeah, for the current scenario to be more believable, for sure. And that's a shame because, you know, if they'd have stopped in the book where it got to the point that, here's the evidence for the missile attack, it would have been far better. And if Pierre Salinger had just said it appears that a missile shot the airplane down. And I met him when he was in Washington here and basically what he's told me and the audience he was talking to...
Bell: - Bill, hold tight. We'll pick up on that after the break. This is coast to coast AM.
Bell: - All right. Back now to Bill Donaldson, who's up very late because he's back east. I think you're in Maryland aren't you?
Donaldson - That's correct, Art.
Bell: - So, the sun is not that far from coming up back there?
Donaldson - Yeah, I'm facing west but I think you're right.
Bell: - All right. We don't have long to go. First time caller line, you' re on the air with Bill Donaldson, hello. Hello there?. No, I guess not. Oh, I didn't push the right button. Wild card line, you're on the air with Bill Donaldson, hello he says. Hello there? No, east of the rockies, let's try that. You're on the air. Okay, for some reason we're not getting audio from these folks and I don't have any idea what that reason could be. Very strange, I'm not used to this happening. Let me try one more time. Wild card line, you're on the air, hello. I can barely hear the person in the background, Bill. Very unusual. I wonder what could possibly be causing this.
Donaldson - I can't hear them either. While you're working on that, I can finish the comment on Pierre Salinger..
Bell: - Oh, absolutely. You met with him, you said.
Donaldson - Right. The gist of what he really told some press people at a meeting there in DC, I was sitting there with them. The French had gone through a similar situation where they apparently had been doing some missile testing in the Mediterranean and they accidentally shot down an aircraft. I don't know how long ago this was, maybe over twenty years ago. It took them ten years to admit to the facts. So, he was very much swayed by what the French had done and immediately jumped to the conclusion that the Americans had done the same thing. Like a lot of the times when you make an assumption, you get in trouble.
Bell: - All right. I think I've got it straightened out. Let's try it now. East of the rockies, you're on the air with Bill Donaldson. Good morning.
Caller - Yes. Good morning. How are you?
Bell: - I'm fine. Where are you sir?
Caller - I'm in New York. You're actually not on the air here. I heard you earlier.
Bell: - Right
Caller - You know, I commend Mr .. First of all, could I ask what rank Mr. Donaldson was?
Donaldson - Well I was a Navy Commander. It's the same as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force.
Caller - Okay. Well, Commander, I commend you for exonerating the Navy. I think you did that. I always found that kind of preposterous. Is that correct? You're doing that?
Donaldson - Well, I wouldn't just say the Navy. I've worked with a lot of command and control systems at sea. And the scenario that was in the book was totally unrealistic because the one cardinal rule that you always do, safety wise, is you never fire a missile in any proximity of a large population or shipping lanes or air lanes. And I can tell you, and this would apply to the Army and all the services, that the General officers and Admirals that approve these exercises would probably fire a junior officer who came to him with such a screwy plan. I don't know how to say it any other way than that. But, it's a persistent thought. There are people on Long Island that very firmly believe that the Navy was involved, and that maybe even the Army was in it, and a whole bunch of other folks. But, I can 't find the evidence and I trust the people that I was in the service with. I mean I personally know the chief of Naval operations. I haven't talked to him about this. But, that's all I can tell you. I know I'm an ex Naval officer and it sounds like I'm making excuses if you believe the military's involved ...
Caller - No, I don't believe it. That's fine. But what I want to go, over three hours of programming, very quickly is going back to Major Meyers at the beginning of the show. At the very beginning of his interview, I think he said that it looked like a shooting star. Now, did he hold to that? Because a shooting star or a meteorite would always be from a high elevation to a low elevation. They could have a somewhat horizontal trajectory at first if it's coming in at a tangent to the earth, but then eventually it will cascade downward.
Donaldson - Right
Caller - I'm not sure if he stuck to that or not. That certainly can't be a missile from the surface, obviously.
Donaldson - Well, I think what happened in his case is that he didn't see the vertical portion of whatever was involved there. When he looked up, he was seeing the thing moving horizontally, with a slight down trajectory from his perspective. Now, you have to remember, he was only at two hundred feet. He was looking up at something that was at thirteen thousand seven hundred feet. That's where the aircraft was. And, depending on the aspect here, a missile that was going outbound and crossing from his left to his right may give a trajectory time that would look like that. The key to me is that it was fast. It was really moving fast. And that totally destroys the CIA tape. First of all, they've attributed doing something that's impossible for it to do, that is climb three thousand feet. TWA has made a statement on the record that the airplane can't climb that fast, which would make that tape valid. Even if it was a perfectly normal airplane. So, Meyer's statements fits where the object was compared with where everybody else saw it and the relative speed is a key. It points to a missile.
Caller - All right. Well, that's fine. But, where I began to have a problem with some of your testimony tonight was when you obviously start bringing in political considerations. You see, I've been thinking of what would be a motivation for a cover up all along.
Bell: - All right. Well, that was clearly, though, stated as speculation and I asked him to speculate on that.
Caller - All right. Well you see, when you're talking about motivation, Art and Commander Donaldson, you're scenario is terrorism, from the Iranian's no less.
Donaldson - Yeah, it could be any one of three or four different, what we call, rogue nations.
Caller - Well you see, a very simple political analysis that anyone could figure out is that at the time, in the summer of 96, if anything would assure of President Clinton's reelection it would be an attack from a rogue nation. It would be a terrorist attack. There would be no political motivation to cover that up. It would be an easy ...
Bell: - Oh, I disagree one hundred and eighty percent.
Caller - Oh , I suspect that you would....
Bell: - I think that, indeed, seeing something like that, particularly when there could be no response because they had no idea who did it. There could be no attack and would assure a defeat.
Donaldson - I would agree with that. And the reason is, it wouldn't matter who the President was, or even what his politics were. If he's presented with a problem that he's had basically an act of war committed on our own territory, and he can't figure out who to strike, that would be a dilemma for anyone. That's an apolitical statement on that. But, when you look at who was running and when November came along and the American people thought we'd come under a terrorist attack and there was no response, you got a guy like Mr. Dole who was a World War II hero and you have Mr. Clinton to pick from. I personally think that if there was a terrorist attack and it became known, that would have been extreme jeopardy for the Clinton administration.
Bell: - Oh, I think so. I think politically people would have run to Dole at that point, despite their apparent boredom with his campaign. Certainly they would have run toward him. That's a pretty simple political conclusion. Bill, do you think it possible, or likely, that what was done was in retaliation for our downing of an Iranian commercial aircraft?
Donaldson - That's an interesting speculation because they keep looking to that. The PAN AM 103 disaster which preceded this by some years under the Bush administration was never really answered either. We picked on Khadafi and blamed him in the scenario that came out of that investigation. But, there are also tentacles that point to other rogue nations on that deal.
Bell: - yes
Donaldson - This is all speculation here because I'm not on the inside of the government. It could be that this is the hot ticket item for those folks in that part of the world to lever the American administration, whoever it might be.
Bell: - It's horrible to imagine that we would accept such a quid pro quo. But if you look at PAN AM 103 or if you look at the downing of Iranian airliner ....
Donaldson - Airbus
Bell: - Airbus. Could we, sort of, accept the downing of Flight 800 quietly and call it even at the international level and hope that nothing else would happen? And would that be a reason and a motivation for concluding the investigation, as they're apparently trying to do now?
Donaldson - Well, I guess you could go through that rationale. But I personally, from experience, the one lesson we should learn from our short history as a nation is that when we've been strong and when we've answered threats with direct confrontation, we've faired far better than going and sticking our head in the sand. Cause all that does ...
Bell: - Goes without question, Bill. But, that was then, and this is now.
Donaldson - Right. You know that Airbus incident, a lot of people don't realize but that the captain of the Vincenes was actually under surface attack when that happened. I don't know whether you remember that. But the Iranians were firing on him from gunboats
Bell: - gunboats. I recall that, yes.
Donaldson - Yeah, he was answering with five inch shells fired from forward mount. And then all of a sudden, they get this contact without a transponder taking off out of Tehran. The board of inquiry found the American captain totally within his rights to protect his ship and exonerated him of shooting down that.....
Bell: - sure, I'm not looking at it as how I would ... but how they might.
Donaldson - Sure. And really it wouldn't have mattered. But the real culprit in that incident from a safety standpoint was that Iran was committing basically an attack against an American vessel in international waters and at the same time allowed one of their commercial airliners to take off right over top without turning his transponder on. All that captain would have to have done is make sure that the transponder switch was in the on position and the Vincennes equipment would have identified it as a friendly airliner.
Bell: - West of the rockies, you're on the air with Bill Donaldson, hi.
Caller - Good morning Art. Good morning Bill.
Bell: - Where are you sir?
Caller - I'm calling from KABC in Los Angeles. I have a couple of questions. Actually, I've done a little research regarding this. A former late night talk show host from here in Los Angeles has a close personal friend of many years named Captain Richard Russell out of Florida, who is a retired 747 pilot. Are you familiar with him?
Donaldson - Oh yeah, I've been down and I've looked at his tape.
Caller - Okay, well then you've heard about his phone call he received right after the downing. He talked to you about that, I would have imagined this as well.
Donaldson - I haven't talked to him in a long time. But he and Pierre Salinger met several times and even went over to Paris.
Caller - But originally within about an hour or two after the plane was downed, Mr. Russell received a phone call from somebody within the department of defense stating that we had taken it down. And that was the first thing that he got, out of the blue. Beyond that, looking for a possible motive, I did some research right after the plane went down and I contacted the French embassy and Consulate here in Los Angeles and I asked were there any critical French passengers on that aircraft. The one name I received when they faxed me over a manifest was the name of a guy named Rudolf Morreau, mid to late twenties, son of the president of Morreau pharmaceuticals, the largest pharmaceutical company in France. And he was returning from a multiple months work in Africa, working with a tribe that had contracted Aids, but did not get the Aids symptoms. He was working on a vaccination, or an anti something or other, I'm not familiar with all the pharmaceutical terms. But he made a trip back to the United States on his way back to France and he was on that aircraft with much of the research that he had worked on in Africa. And that's never been brought out of everything I've ever heard of here in the United States. I had to get that directly from the French. Are you familiar him at all and his research?
Donaldson - No, and really I hadn't concentrated on passengers. I figured that was the FBI's.. They're pretty good at tracking this stuff down normally.
Bell: - You're going after this as a forensic expert might go after a murder scene. In other words, you're into the hard evidence, the debris field, the impact
Donaldson - Right
Bell: - What it would have taken and how it would have been done
Donaldson - right
Bell: - And how it wasn't and what didn't happen
Donaldson - right
Bell: - And again, your conclusion is that there is no way that this could have been a simple, mechanical failure.
Donaldson - No, and none of the physical evidence really supports what is being said. And the unprecedented way that it's been done with this gigantic public relations pitch. I can tell you normally a commercial airliner goes down, it's happened before, the military never gets involved, the government stays out of it. Normally they call in the insurance underwriters, they call civilian salvage teams to go down and look at whatever they can recover.
Bell: - The military involvement in this was immediate, wasn't it?
Donaldson - It was immediate and I think it was ordered right out of the white house or by somebody in the direct chain of command. It makes sense on one way. The Navy does have some very good equipment but it isn't normal procedure, let's put it that way. The whole thing is, there were so many eyewitnesses that said that a missile or something went up and hit the airplane. The reaction was to find out what happened, and then I think they ended up containing what they found.
Bell: - Well, Bill we're about at the end of the show, here. And again, I would ask the audience contact chairman of the aviation subcommittee, James Duncan and request the congressional investigation be continued. These are sad days in America, Bill.
Donaldson - Well, I hate to leave the show on a negative note. I know this is hard for a lot of people to think about this. I always lean back on something that I hold very precious and that's the constitution. There isn't, really, any administration that can hurt this country, no matter how bad it is, the way the constitution is constructed. If we all just remember what it says and stick to the rules, time will get us past through any of this.
Bell: - Well, I hope time brings the truth and time doesn't bring the ability, as we do too frequently, to revise history.
Donaldson - right
Bell: - And the last memory of Flight 800 is not the CIA cartoon, but rather a comprehensive investigation that is way overdue at the congressional level. So, Bill, I want to thank you for being here and I hope that what we 've done tonight will bare fruit.
Donaldson - Art, I sure appreciate the opportunity to speak to your listeners and you have a good day now.
Bell: - You too. Take care, Bill. That's it folks. Bill Donaldson. I appreciate you all listening to this. I felt it was long overdue, in view of the report last week. In fact, it demands attention. From the high desert, good night.
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