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Suicide, Balloons and Center Wing Tanks

"You have three people in charge: You have Khamenei - he is in charge of religion and terrorism. You have Rafsanjani - he is in charge of business and terrorism. You have Khatami - he is in charge of internal politics, moderation and terrorism".    Crown Prince Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa of Bahrain

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"You have three groups in charge: You have the Islamic Jihad - it is in charge of terrorism and explosives. You have the FBI - it is in charge of center wing fuel tanks and explosives. You have the NTSB - it is in charge of irrational explanations and explosives".   Unattributed Source

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(Articles from news sources have been placed within for educational, research, and discussion purposes
only, in compliance with "Fair Use" criteria established in Section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976.)

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February 1, 2000  The Associated Press
While considered the safest period of flying, there recently have been a surprising number of high-profile crashes, and about 900 deaths, when the jetliners were at or near their cruising altitude. But aviation experts emphasized Wednesday that there is no common thread to these accidents - as many as a half dozen since 1996. And while the causes in some cases have yet to be determined, the suspicions range from electrical failure to mechanical control problems to sabotage by a pilot. On July 17, 1996, TWA Flight 800 was climbing gradually after taking off from New York City and well along in its flight when it exploded at about 13,000 feet. An electrical spark is widely believed to have caused a fuel tank explosion. Last October, Egypt Air Flight 990, a twin-engine Boeing 767, was cruising at 31,000 feet off Nantucket, Mass., when it suddenly dove, and plummeted into the Atlantic. The reason for the dive is still a mystery. Investigators are still not certain what caused a Boeing 737, belonging to SilkAir, to fall out of the sky from cruise altitude and crash into a muddy river in Indonesia in December, 1997. There is some suspicion the pilot may have crashed the plane in a suicide.

"We don't see any common threat (sic) in these accidents,'' emphasized Capt. Dwayne Woerth, president of the Air Line Pilots Association".

1) TWA Flight 800
You have the Islamic Jihad - it is in charge of terrorism and explosives.
July 17, 1996, 22:30 (EST)
Scott Holleran and his family who had missed the fatal TWA 800 flight arrived later at the TWA gate for their flight back to the U.S., and Scott told the crew who they were. "When one flight attendant heard that they were originally supposed to be on Flight 800, he brought a bottle of champagne. The flight attendant said: 'Look, this is what we think happened. Everyone at TWA thinks it was a missile.'"

July 19, 1996 Reuters
Attorney General Jane Reno said she was unaware of any threats before the crash but there were "some calls'' afterward claiming responsibility. ABC News reported that an Arabic newspaper received a warning of an attack on an American target Wednesday from the same group that claimed responsibility for a bomb attack that killed five Americans in Saudi Arabia in November. But the State Department said it had viewed the warning letter as a political tract and not as a specific threat of an extremist attack. "To us it seemed to be a general political tract. We don't see it as a specific threat,'' State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said of the letter sent to Al Hayat, an Arabic language newspaper published in London.

July 19, 1996 New York Times.
A specific warning about the flight had been sent by an extremist Saudi organization called the Movement of Islamic Change, the organization that claimed responsibility for blowing up US military personnel in Saudi Arabia last November. "Late this morning we got a copy of a letter in Arabic that we then had translated, and got it to the FBI" said a State Department spokesman. "It's a statement that seems aimed at the Saudi regime or the American presence in Saudi Arabia". Officials said they were reviewing a telephone call placed to a Tampa, Florida television station yesterday morning from a man who identified himself as a member of a jihad and claimed responsibility for the crash.

July 19, 1996 ABC News Reports
Government sources were quoted as saying the explosion was a "deliberate criminal act", possibly an act of sabotage or the result of a hit by a "small missile". Again, quoting unnamed government sources, it was stated that infrared imagery from an orbiting satellite may have detected a missile fired at the aircraft.

July 29, 1997 Riverside Press
An Air National Guard helicopter pilot who witnessed the explosion of TWA Flight 800 believes the jetliner was downed by an explosive projectile. Frederick C. Meyer, one of two helicopter pilots who saw the plane explode, said he did not know what the projectile was or where it came from, but is convinced he saw an"ordnance explosion'' near the plane.

Eyewitness Tom Dougherty
"I looked up because it sounded like thunder.   I kept looking trying to figure out what it was.  And that's when I saw a flare come off the water.  The flare, trailing orange flame, shot up roughly at a 45 degree angle, then rapidly increased it's angle of ascent. Then it appeared to strike something."   After the missile hit the plane, the plane glowed very bright as part of it fell and then, after becoming luminescent, it burst into flames.  This was the strangest thing I ever saw.

Everyone calls it a 'missile theory,' but when you see something, you know what you see, and I didn't see a theory."

You have the FBI - it is in charge of center wing fuel tanks and explosives.
July 23, 1996 Newsday - Long Island
A chemical test showed traces of a rare explosive on a wing from TWA Flight 800. The explosive material is so unusual that federal investigators have only seen traces of it once before. A senior federal law enforcement official yesterday noted that 60 witnesses have now reported seeing something streaking up toward the plane before it was consumed by an orange fireball. The sources said the explosive which showed up was not one of the more common ones such as dynamite, or the plastiques, such as C-4 or semtex. But the sources refused to name it or the incident in which it had turned up previously.

August 1, 1996 CNN
At the daily news briefing held by the NTSB and FBI, investigators were asked Wednesday why they have yet to find chemical or explosive residue on wreckage or victims' bodies. "I haven't said I haven't found it. I just haven't commented on it," responded FBI Assistant Director James Kallstrom.

August 30, 1996 CNN Web posted at: 7:00 p.m. EDT
Additional traces of explosive residue have been found in the wreckage of TWA Flight 800, federal investigators said Friday, but that does not prove the July 17 crash was caused by a bomb.

You have the NTSB - it is in charge of irrational explanations and explosives.
March 12, 1997 The Associated Press
An Air National Guardsman who witnessed the explosion of TWA Flight 800 repeatedly told authorities he thought a missile had struck the plane. After searching for survivors the night of the crash, Capt. Chris Baur, a helicopter pilot, returned to his base and "told officials immediately he thought he saw a missile". A NTSB investigator who interviewed Baur said that what the pilot saw could be explained by mechanical malfunction that might have created "a tongue of flame coming from the aircraft".

July 12, 1998 The Associated Press
A Harvard University English professor believes electromagnetic interference - possibly from military craft - might be responsible for the downing of TWA Flight 800. Professor Elaine Scarry's theory is being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board as part of its inquiry into the July 17, 1996, crash off Long Island, chairman James Hall said. In a March 13 letter to Hall, Ms. Scarry said NTSB findings had not ruled out the possibility that a High Intensity Radiated Field, or HIRF, played a part in the crash of TWA 800. Hall replied in a May 27 letter that the NTSB was going to probe the possibility of electromagnetic phenomena having affected the TWA jetliner. Ms. Scarry insisted in a June 17 letter that a TWA pilot's comments about a ``crazy'' fuel gauge and difficulty stabilizing the plane just before the explosion could be anomalies hinting at an EMI event.

2) Silk Air Boeing 737
You have the Islamic Jihad - it is in charge of terrorism and explosives.
December 21, 1997   Electronic Telegraph  Issue 941
One hundred and four people on board a SilkAir Boeing 737 flying from Jakarta to Singapore were killed in the crash. Witnesses said the plane exploded twice in mid-air and again when it plunged into the river, the Musi, 35 miles north of Palembang.

You have the FBI - it is in charge of center wing fuel tanks and explosives.
November 29, 1998    Reuters
The theory of pilot suicide has become prevalent in the absence of hard facts to explain the crash.

You have the NTSB - it is in charge of irrational explanations and explosives.
November 29, 1998    Reuters
Families of the 97 passengers and seven crew on board the 10-month-old Boeing 737-300 have anxiously awaited an explanation of why it plummeted into Indonesia's Musi river from a stable altitude of 35,000 feet on a routine Jakarta to Singapore flight.  Both "black box'' flight data recorders (failed) in the crucial minutes before the crash. Diran -- who heads the investigation in line with international convention that gives jurisdiction to the country in which the accident occurs -- said he still did not know why
the tail section of the nearly new plane was separated from the main debris by about two and a half miles (four km).

3) Swissair 111
You have the Islamic Jihad - it is in charge of terrorism and explosives.

September 2, 1998    
Swissair  111 crashes off Nova Scotia on the tenth anniversary in the Islamic calendar (September 2, 1998 11 Jumaada al-awal 1419 A.H.)
of the bombing of PA 103 (December 21, 1988 11 Jumaada al-awal 1409 A.H. ).

September 2, 1998  AP Wire
A flotilla of coast guard and fishing boats searching in the darkness early today found only bodies and human remains from a Swissair jetliner that crashed off Nova Scotia. The Geneva-bound Flight 111 had 229 people aboard when the pilot reported smoke in the cockpit and attempted an emergency landing Halifax International Airport. Speaking to reporters at the Geneva airport, Georges Schorderet, the chief financial officer of parent company SAirGroup, said the plane was put into service in August 1991 and was overhauled in August and September last year. It had been checked as all are before takeoff, he added. "This airplane was in perfect working order," Schorderet said.

September 5, 1998 The Hindu Online
A Saudi Arabian prince was among those killed in the Swissair plane crash off Canada. The English-language Saudi Gazette quoted a Swissair source confirming that Prince Bandar Bin Saud Bin Saad Abdul Rahman al-Saud was among the 229 passengers and crew killed when the plane plunged into the Atlantic near Nova Scotia on Wednesday. Prince Bandar, 45, a former Saudi Air Force pilot, was on his way to visit his father who was receiving treatment in Switzerland.

November 5, 1998 The Associated Press
Before Swissair Flight 111 crashed, the temperature rose to 572 degrees in the front part of the plane, the airline's in-house publication said Thursday. Swissair's "News'' also said there are no traces of fire despite the high temperature and the source of the heat still is not known. According to the newsletter, investigators were surprised that the heat was in the upper part of the plane and not below the cockpit floor, where most of the wiring is located.

September 21, 2000  The NY Review of Books, Vol XLVII, Number 14
Reports about Swissair 111 have left the public with the incorrect impression that the plane managed to make its way, uneventfully, east along Long Island and north along the New England coast before suddenly beginning to encounter trouble when it was sixty miles from Halifax. The record of the difficulty, as widely reported in the press, begins at 9:14 PM, when Swissair 111's pilot requests permission to make an unscheduled landing at Boston; the air controller in Moncton, Canada, reminds him that he is much closer to the Halifax airport than to Boston, and asks him if he would prefer to land at Halifax. At the moment of the 9:14 call, the cockpit has smoke in it. In the early stage of the flight, while Swissair 111 was still traveling east along the southern coast of Long Island, it lost radio contact with the eastern seaboard air controllers for thirteen minutes. TWA 800 had begun its fatal fall (and had lost the use of its radio, transponder, cockpit recorder, and data box recorder) at a clock time of 8:31 PM. Swissair 111 had its last normal exchange with the Boston air controllers at 8:33 PM, after which it lost radio contact with every air controller on the northeast coast for the next thirteen minutes.

You have the FBI - it is in charge of center wing fuel tanks and explosives and you have the NTSB - it is in charge of irrational explanations and explosives.
Swissair111?  Could it have been a balloon?   We used that explanation for Swissair 127!

September 26, 1997 Agence France Presse
US authorities have launched an inquiry into an unidentified flying object that whizzed 50 metres (yards) past a Swissair jet near New York last month, Swissair said Friday. Company spokesman Jean-Claude Donzel dismissed reports that the object could have been a missile, saying the incident was "very serious" but the results of the inquiry were not yet known. Swiss RSR radio, reporting that the pilot thought it "could have been a missile," noted that the incident occurred near where a TWA flight blew up in July 1996 with the loss of 230 lives.

September 27, 1997 (Neue Zuricher Zeitung)
Swissair has revealed that an unidentified flying object almost collided with one of its planes over the United States last month. The captain and his co-pilot said an oblong and wingless object shot past at great speed - only fifty metres away from their Boeing Seven-Four-Seven. The American air traffic authorities said it was probably a weather balloon.

March 5, 1999    www.cbcnews.com    Ottawa (CP)
A Swissair pilot reported his 747 jet was nearly hit by an unidentified flying object, possibly a missile, near the area off New York where a TWA airplane crashed in 1996. Swissair Flight 127 was cruising at 23,000 feet on August  9, 1997, when the pilot interrupted an address to passengers to report the near miss by a round white object, says a report by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board. "Sir, I don't know what it was, but it just flew like a couple of hundred feet above us," he radioed Boston air traffic control. "I don't know if it was a rocket or whatever, but incredibly fast, opposite direction." It was too fast to be an airplane." All that I can tell, 127, is that (we) saw a light object, it was white, and very fast." ..... "It passed over the cockpit, slightly right of centerline. If it had been any lower, it would have hit the aircraft. The sun was at the pilot's back. He apparently did not have time to take evasive action. ..... The first officer, whose flight time totalled 7,500 hours, said he was bent over to adjust the volume on his headset when he looked up and saw the object pass overhead "very quickly." "It was close enough that he ducked his head because he thought it would hit them. . . . He thought it passed about 100 to 200 feet above the airplane and between the right side of the fuselage and the No. 3 engine."  The captain (Bobet) and the first officer (Grunder) were interviewed the following day in Boston by the FAA, the FBI, and the NTSB.  The FAA report quoted the captain as stating that the object "appeared to be moving" and "the object did not appear to have an exhaust plume, or resemble any characteristics of a rocket".  

The captain denied that these were his statements when interviewed by staff of the UFO Research Coalition which conducted an investigation of the incident.

The UFO Research Coalition  Report on Swissair 127   ISBN 1-928957-00-5  (1999)   Pages 7-8
Captain Bobet: 'The object appeared to be moving...' is a wrong statement. I insisted on the very high speed of the object at different occasions. So, the object did not APPEAR to be moving, it WAS moving.    "In addition, the object did not appear to have an exhaust plume, or resemble any characteristics of a rocket ...."   I NEVER mentioned the word "rocket" (or missile). I would have done so only if I was sure that we encountered one. Even though it was (and still is) very tempting to use the word, I will never use it as long as I am not 100% sure it was a rocket.  Thus, I certainly did not say that "the object DID NOT resemble any characteristics of a rocket."

4) Egyptair Boeing 767  Flight 990
You have the Islamic Jihad - it is in charge of terrorism and explosives.
October 31, 1999  The Associated Press
A Boeing 767 plane with 199 passengers aboard disappeared early today on a flight from New York to Egypt. Flight 990 took off from Kennedy at 1:19 a.m. and disappeared from radar at 2 a.m. while flying at 33,000 feet .

November 14, 1999    Associated Press
Cockpit voice recordings from EgyptAir Flight 990 show the pilot and co-pilot talking "like pals'' before something goes wrong and both men desperately try to fix a problem that soon caused the plane to crash into the Atlantic. "Something happens. Alarms go off. Both work to try to fix it,'' the source said. "There is some kind of problem that they're dealing with. It gets progressively worse. And the tape stops.''  The recorder was found to be in good condition and it provided about 31 1/2 minutes of data. The tape provides no evidence of an intruder in the cockpit or of any fighting among the crew, the source said.

November 26, 1999  The Guardian Unlimited.
EgyptAir's chief pilot said yesterday that he believed the Egyptian aircraft that plunged into the Atlantic more than three weeks ago had been brought down by either a bomb or a missile that hit the plane's tail. "The plane, weighing 174 tonnes, was descending at a speed of 0.86 Mach - close to the speed of sound - or 23,000ft per minute," Mr Selim told the newspaper. "This is three times faster than what is usual in an emergency situation. This could only happen when the tail unit is not there." He said the Boeing 767 tail unit was equipped with a stabiliser that allowed a maximum descent speed of 7,000ft a minute. "It cannot go faster even if the pilot wanted it to, unless the tail unit was not there," the chief pilot said. There are two possibilities that would cause the tail unit to split off: either a bomb was attached to the tail, or it was hit by a missile."

August 14, 2000 Airwise News    http://news.airwise.com/stories/2000/08/966256308.html
The head of the Egyptian pilots' federation yesterday accused U.S. investigators of withholding key evidence in the crash of EgyptAir Flight 990 off the U.S. coast last October, according to Reuters.  Walid Murad called for the release of radar images and the evidence of two pilots who said they saw missiles in the area where the plane went down, killing all 217 people on board.  He told reporters that U.S. investigators said they were denying access to the radar images because they contained military secrets. "This is a weak excuse," he said.  "This American stance is evidence of concealing facts, and we demand the release of these radar images and to hear the testimony of the two pilots, one German and one Jordanian, that they saw missiles where the Egyptian plane crashed," he said.  By concealing and leaking information, Murad said, the U.S. investigation risked losing credibility.

You have the FBI - it is in charge of center wing fuel tanks and explosives.
November 4, 1999    From Newsday (LI) Edition: Nassau and Suffolk
Eyewitness Stuart Flegg
The dull orange glow caught Stuart Flegg's attention in the dark sky of a bracing Halloween night on Nantucket island. And for the next four to five seconds, his eyes tracked the light falling down until it vanished into the horizon formed by the ink-black Atlantic Ocean. Hours later, Flegg and his friend Scott Proffitt, who also saw the dime-sized orange spot, concluded they'd viewed the flaming wreckage of EgyptAir Flight 990, which plunged from 33,000 feet at 24,000 feet per minute on what was supposed to be a routine flight from New York to Cairo. They called police, and Tuesday, they told their story to the FBI. "What caught my eye was like an orange glow in the sky. And then it was falling rapidly. I mean, it was falling very fast. And then, about halfway down, it started slowing down," Flegg, 32, said yesterday. "And then the flame got a little wider. As it was falling down, it got longer. And then it just kept coming down, going slower, slower, slower and then it just passed over the horizon from where I was."  The men told their story Monday to local folks and to two local television crews. The next day, two FBI agents showed up with a lot of pointed questions. "They asked me how the lawn was set up with the yard chairs," said Stuart's wife, Monica Flegg, 34, who had gone to sleep before the crash. "I showed them the yard and showed them how it was set up.

"I know what I saw-that's what I told the FBI guys," Flegg said. "I don't care what they say, I know what I saw. It was definitely that plane going down that I saw. It was definitely on fire."  

December 6, 1999   UPI
"The FBI has not become aware of any intelligence information that a terrorist group might be responsible," Valiquette (a spokesman for the FBI) said.  In the days following the crash of EgyptAir 990, there were several claims of responsibility from purported terrorists, "but they're not credible at all," Valiquette said.

You have the NTSB - it is in charge of irrational explanations and explosives.
August 12, 2000   The New York Times
Reinforcing suspicions that a suicidal co-pilot was responsible for the crash of EgyptAir Flight 990 last fall, the nation's top air safety investigator said today that there were no safety issues in the crash that would require a public hearing to resolve. At a news conference, the official, James E. Hall, the chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, released 1,700 pages of documents, including F.B.I. reports that showed that the co-pilot had been accused of a variety of sexual improprieties at a Manhattan hotel during visits there in the year before the crash. Mr. Hall said there were "no unresolved safety issues" that would require a formal public hearing. Several women who worked at the hotel told security officers that Mr. Batouti repeatedly propositioned them sexually. In another incident, two teenage girls accused Mr. Batouti of following them and exposing himself through a window.   At the news conference, at one point an Egyptian reporter asked Mr. Hall why the accusations of sexual misconduct were relevant to the cause of the crash, and then he began discussing President Clinton's sexual activities in the Oval Office.

5) Thai Airways Boeing 737  Flight TG114
You have the Islamic Jihad - it is in charge of terrorism and explosives.
April 13, 2001 International Herald Tribune
A Thai Airways International plane, which was nine years old, exploded at a gate at Don Muang International Airport in Bangkok on March 3 in what was believed to be sabotage. The prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, had been due to fly on the plane, and Thai authorities said they had found traces of
high explosives.

You have the FBI - it is in charge of center wing fuel tanks and explosives.
April 13, 2001 International Herald Tribune
The safety board, which is involved in the investigation because the plane was made by an American company, said Wednesday that
the FBI had found no traces of explosives. The explosion was in the center-wing fuel tank, a structure on the 737 and the 747 inside the fuselage, where the wings come together.

You have the NTSB - it is in charge of irrational explanations and explosives.
April 12, 2001  NY Times
Heating the tank allows fuel to turn to vapor, and it can explode if a spark is present.

USAToday.com - April 13, 2001    
An explosion that destroyed a Boeing 737 last month on the ground in Bangkok was caused by the same problem that downed TWA Flight 800 off the coast of New York in 1996. Investigators traced the blast to the center fuel tank, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board said Wednesday. Last year, the NTSB ruled that TWA's 747 broke apart from a center tank explosion. In that explosion, the NTSB suspected frayed wiring or one of several other sources led to a spark in the hot fuel vapors. The safety board has recommended steps to reduce the chances that tanks can explode. For example, the NTSB said that air conditioning systems be switched off on the ground. The air conditioning units emit heat, which can cause the fuel in the tank to vaporize and become explosive. In both the TWA and Thai accidents, air conditioning systems adjacent to the center tank in the jets were turned on. The NTSB said the Thai jet's air conditioning system had been operating for about 40 minutes on the ground. The temperature was in the 90s.

6) American Airlines 587
You have the Islamic Jihad - it is in charge of terrorism and explosives.
November 12 2001
On the fourth anniversary of the conviction of Ramsey Yousef for the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, AA 587 crashes on Long Island.

December 2, 2001 New York Post
Little wonder the National Transportation Safety Board has bleated for help from NASA to help them out in the tragic crash of American Airlines Flight 587. The NTSB has shown in the past that it is run by a bunch of bumbling bureaucrats who couldn't find a needle in a thimble. Here they were with 265 dead, and God knows how many mourners, giving us this claptrap that the tail fell off mysteriously.  "No tail fell off, not before the explosion. I swear to that," said retired firefighter Tom Lynch, who was doing his exercise march along Rockaway Beach Boulevard on Nov. 12.  "I had my head up taking in that beautiful, clear day and was staring straight at the plane. "It made a bank turn and suddenly there was an explosion, orange and black, on the righthand side of the fuselage. It was a small explosion, about half the size of a car. "The plane kept on going straight for about two or three seconds as if nothing had happened, then vwoof' - the second, big explosion on the right wing, orange and black. "It was only then that the plane fell apart. It was after the explosion and I'm telling you, the tail was there until the second explosion." Lynch, who lives near the crash site in Belle Harbor, claims he has 13 people who saw the plane on fire before the breakup. Until the explosion the tail was intact. He contacted the FBI, NTSB, Rep. Anthony Weiner, and Sens. Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton. "I got no response from anyone," said Lynch.

You have the FBI - it is in charge of center wing fuel tanks and explosives.
MSNBC,November 12, 2001 Jetliner crashes in New York City
Despite reports from witnesses that one of the jets engines exploded and separated from the aircraft shortly after the plane took off, an initial examination of the wreckage by explosives experts from the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms found the pattern of the wreckage was not consistent with an explosion.

You have the NTSB - it is in charge of irrational explanations and explosives.
January 2, 2002; Page A04  Washington Post
The Airbus A300 that lost its vertical tail fin and crashed into a New York neighborhood Nov. 12 had been blown backward onto its tail in 1987 by a violent storm that swept the Airbus factory in France as the wide-body plane sat outside awaiting completion, said sources close to the investigation. There is no indication that the freak event had anything to do with the crash of American Airlines Flight 587 but investigators said they cannot overlook potential evidence, no matter how old or remote, in a crash that has defied explanation and may take investigators into unknown territory. National Transportation Safety Board investigators, Airbus sources and French authorities shy away from calling the disaster a "mystery crash," particularly because they have gathered useful information from the crash site and from the plane's flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder. Investigators know a lot about what happened but cannot say why it happened. No one found any indication of terrorism. The engines checked out fine. Weather does not seem to have been a factor. But almost everything else remains on the table and many months may pass before investigators can confidently identify a probable cause. All the major possible scenarios -- serious errors by an experienced crew, a heretofore unknown type of rudder malfunction, an unlikely flaw in the composite carbon-plastic tail fin attachments, hidden damage that eluded inspectors, or some combination -- are disturbing.

For further details please see

The Mystery of Swissair 111

The Mystery of Egyptair 990

The Mystery of American Airlines 587