MONTOURSVILLE, LYCOMING COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) Today marks 20 years since Trans World Airlines flight 800 exploded shortly after taking off from J-F-K airport in New York– killing all 230 on board.
21 of them were from Montoursville heading to Paris, France for a field trip.
Eyewitness News spoke to the father of one the students abroad Flight 800.
“My reaction was ‘no that is not possible,” Don Nibert said.
16 members of the Montoursville Area High School French Club and five chaperones were heading for a once in a lifetime trip to Paris, France.
12-minutes after take off on July 17th, 1996 the Boeing 747 exploded in mid-air. There were no survivors.
In a way, Cheryl’s father was fortunate – she was one of three victims identified within hours.
“She had a ticket, a flight ticket with her name on it in her blue jean pants,” Nibert said.
A few years after the crash a memorial in the borough of Montoursville was built.
Engraved in marble are the names of the students and chaperones.
In 2011 a room in the General John Burrows Historical Society was dedicated to ‘TWA flight 800’. A picture shows the group before their departure to JFK airport.
“They were all enthusiastic having a great day and they flew out that evening on TWA flight 800 and the rest became history and that’s why we have this room,” President of the General John Burrows Historical Society Maynard Bogart said.
Maynard Bogart is the President of the Museum and was a teacher during the tragedy. Newspaper articles capture life as it stood still in 1996. Pictures show the aftermath of what happened..
But now after 20 years the thought of a conspiracy still lives on whether or not flight 800 went down because of a malfunction or a missile.
“I believe friendly fire was involved with the downing of the airplane,” Nibert said.
Nibert says 600 eyewitnesses saw something rising from the ocean and strike Flight 800 but the FBI says, did not consider in the investigation. Investigators determined the center fuel tank blew up. 20 years later doubts linger, but one thing’s for certain, the victims of TWA Flight 800 will never be forgotten.