On the evening of July 17, 1996, a Boeing 747 en route to Paris from New York’s JFK Airport exploded in mid-air, tragically ending the lives of all 230 people onboard. 

This devastating event was TWA Flight 800, and the subsequent investigation would become one of the most detailed and expansive in aviation history. Yet, despite the exhaustive efforts to uncover the truth, skepticism still hangs over the official findings.

At the heart of this skepticism lies the persistent military conspiracy theory.

From the early days following the crash, eyewitness accounts and amateur speculations fed the growing rumor mill. Talk of military tests gone awry, and government cover-ups began to dominate water cooler conversations and late-night radio talk shows.

Over two decades later, the question arises: Why does the military conspiracy theory related to TWA Flight 800 continue to capture the public’s imagination?

The Birth of a Theory: Initial Observations and Speculations

The military conspiracy theory surrounding TWA Flight 800 didn’t just spring from nowhere. 

In the wake of the explosion, numerous eyewitnesses came forward. They claimed they had seen what appeared to be a missile-like object heading towards the plane before it exploded. These first-hand accounts and the general public’s distrust of official narratives provided fertile ground for alternative theories to take root. 

The CIA’s reconstruction of the incident (Wikimedia Commons)

It didn’t take long for the idea of a missile strike by the U.S. military to emerge as a prominent theory.