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"Thank You" - In memory of TWA 800

By Nathan Elbert
March 12, 2001

Too often, perhaps, the response to a disaster is to launch ourselves into an unending debate on what made the mishap happen, and too often, perhaps, we don't hear that sometimes there's just nothing to be said for what we're saying.

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They wanted me to define irony. I had two sisters once upon a time. I suppose one could still say I “had” two sisters. Row forty – left window seat. Death, they say, is more than merely the end of life. Sometimes I think it’s just that people can’t accept the end, sometimes I wonder, sometimes I know.
Row forty, towards the back, on the left side. There, in somber light, through the older, scratched-up windows that too many eyes had gazed out over too many distant horizons with too many faded memories of places left behind and things to be found, with the tiny holes they punched to let pressure escape, she sat. One of my two sisters. Death, they say, is preceded by a flash of memories, a time for all times. They say you go back through all the good things and with soft longing let them go. They say you go back through all the bad things and wonder how you made it that far. They say in many there is fear, in some there is courage, in most a sort of warmth that swells up from inside like the hollow pleasure of being numb during dental work.
The sweet summer winds were blowing; it was as pleasant a time as I guessed I’d ever see. We watched her board the plane – one of my two sisters – and we watched her wave goodbye. Like all who board a plane and give that simple final wave, you know it might be the last, but you know it won’t. You know with that lovely faith we humans tend to have that the sun will rise tomorrow, that when the winds leave your sails empty, there is, most often, a fresh breeze swelling in a distant sea, working slowly towards your ship. Death, they say, is when the faith fades off, when the sun does not rise, when the winds are gone forever in delayed doldrums, when the next breeze is blocked by taller ships or faster. Death, they say, is when it’s over.

The first thing you feel, she says, is a great rumpling. I’m not sure what a rumpling feels like, but that’s the word she used. It’s as though the entire universe, cosmos incarnate in whatever dimensional existence you want of it, ripples through you. Rumpling. It’s a good word if a rather strange one. Then there’s wind and cold. First it’s just the strange gust of suction as the air bursts out of the cabin, then the smash of the colder air outside. It’s not, she says with a smile, painful. When things are too intense, when it’s so sudden you can’t really comprehend what it feels like, it’s a removed, retarded sensation. The floor peels up and fire that looks strangely distorted into great orange lines because of the wind smears through the air back past you… echoes of the future, foreshadows of fate… there’s a warmth in the fire, a cold in the air, a fear in the heart, a smile in her stare.

Then it’s not sane or safe and it doesn’t feel very good, she says. You’re stuck in your seat, the plane is climbing, climbing. You don’t know what happened, all you know is that out that left window there is a thing you’ve never seen before. Flame. Oh sure, you’ve gone without a meal from time to time, but few would be so fortuned as to fly on these fast jets as would know true hunger in the places where grass doesn’t grow and trees are sparsely sprinkled on Saharan emptiness. And yes, you’ve known fear as you trip and tumble into a barbed wire fence, but not what fear is really like when in all the world there’s no way out and no return. And of course, you’ve known regret as you look back and evaluate what you’re about to do… after you’ve done it, but what of those who’ve sold their souls and turned back not just to see what they could have been, but all that they will now never be. Flame. It’s real now, not the tame tongues of the fireplace or the bitter crackle of the campfire, not the blue green bubbles of cinema delight or the fake and sparking lightshows exploding on the fourth of July. These are real flames, the long, the dark, the serene. Do monsters know they’re monsters? Do demons know they damn?

And then you’re falling. There was the climb, the world opened up and light and air came into the fuselage, there was wind from heaven and fire from hell, all was black and red and bright bright blue, and tumbling through the air just barely conscious, as your burnt flesh freezes to your broken bones, as time passes infinitely quickly, you cannot help but feel that it will be all right. There is no turning back now, you’ve been there, you’ve seen what it’s really like.
And so, you think as the ocean drifts slowly closer, this is the end. There is no brilliant flash of memories which in one second recalls all of time, but like the event horizon of a singularity, you remain forever in that instant, and somehow, in the pain of what your body feels, there’s a glory in what your mind recalls.
She tells me she was screaming. Nothing hurt worse, nothing could have hurt worse. With curtains of fire as fuel burnt gently away and gentle half-visible clouds moving by at low altitude she screams her last goodbye.
The big old Boeing vanished in midair. The work of the thousands, the cost of the millions, the use of the billions – gone in a flash, out with a bang, silent goodbyes take flight in ways we’ll never know…
…because we sat in three-piece suits sipping filtered water in an air conditioned conference lounge in the basement of a hotel in New York discussing what had gone wrong. Some said missile, some said mishap, some said an act of God. There were arguments and grudges held for that cause. In the first week it became a vile thing, a matter of scorn. We put their corpses on the barge, we stitched the scraped-up letters TWA back together in a hangar, and we left everything that mattered in the seaweed and city’s sewage off the coast. We brought our children and our flowers, said our prayers and shed our tears, and then we fought.
We fought because we were too proud to admit that our missiles could have done it. We fought because we were too proud to admit that our planes could have been that faulty. We fought because we were ‘concerned for future safety’ in whatever end, and as – like a ghost – the white fuselage came back together, dented, in a stark metal building, we left memories and mysteries where they belonged, at the bottom of the sea, at the top of the sky.

I went back to school after I realized it wasn’t as traumatic as I thought, and I took my report on irony with. It was a simple matter, I’d seen it myself. One man, in his uniform, stolidly insisting it couldn’t have been a missile, fist to fist with one man, in his suit, sternly demanding it couldn’t have been a design flaw, fighting. Our families lay in pieces floating in the sea, and we fought over our sad pride. We stood on a shoreline coated with their blood and the leftover fumes of jet fuel, we walked our leather shoes and silk pockets into the surf drifting with seat cushions and jetliner-shrapnel and fought there. And there we agreed on one thing – we were all too proud to ever admit so great a loss could be our fault.

“I keep thinking,” I say as I finish my report before a class unsure just what to think, “that it would have been the greatest act of nobility my young eyes have seen for someone to come forward and say in solemn confession with honest concern for those who will fly in the future, “it was I, was what I did; I will take the blame as you will know I meant no harm.”
But humans just can’t do that. Those who love the planes can’t say, “you’re right – it might” and those who hate them can’t say, “you’re right – it won’t,” and those who watch them crash can’t say, “it’s okay.”
For, in the end, the sun did come up the next day, the wind started blowing again, and we all learned something that had nothing to do with central fuel tank injection lines or missile launch recoding sequences. We’ve learned that lesson so many times before in years that have passed, and we’ll learn it again in years that will come.
I have one sister now, and one gravestone. So many planes fade slowly away in those forgotten Saharan deserts, starved of usefulness, reduced to beer cans. So many people fade thusly into aged oblivion.
But one jet, one sister, one day in history, remains forever human. Thank you to the victims, thank you to the plane, to those who had no choice but to face the truth. Thank you to those who showed us just how weak we are no matter how fast we fly or how high we soar. Thank you for showing us how grim things must get before we’ll put them on the front page. Thank you for showing us what it means to be too proud. Thank you for making us appreciate how much goodness there is in so simple a thing as ... hurdling through the clouds in a hundred-million dollar machine at nearly the speed of sound. Thank you for showing us how much that little wave can mean; for showing us that when we say “good bye” we might actually have to mean,
good bye.

Death, she says, can be the things we say in what we leave behind.

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Photo © Propfreak

In loving memory of N93119 and her passengers, who perished together on 17 July, 1996, and all who serve to learn from our mistakes rather than hide in finding fault with them.

Written by
Nathan Elbert

Nathan Elbert is an artist of varied talents. Currently, he writes articles on a variety of aviation subjects for Airline Review magazine, does book reviews for the science-fiction/fantasy periodical The Ultimate Unknown, and holds the position of Article Editor here on Airliners.Net.

43 User Comments:
Username: Climbout [User Info]
Posted 2001-03-12 16:59:04 and read 32768 times.

My heart goes out to you and your family, Nathan. I share your pain and sympathize with you losing a family member in such a horrific way. But take comfort in knowing that your precious sister is resting in peace now. Thanks for such a wonderful story. It was awesome. God bless you.

Username: GODIA [User Info]
Posted 2001-03-12 19:18:40 and read 32768 times.

I guess people grieve in many different ways, but I was horrified and offended by this! The author is clearly very angry, but he lashes out at virtually everyone, and how will this crass and offensive article bring him peace? He seems unwilling to trust the NTSB, the FBI and all the experts who CLEARLY proved it was NOT a missile, it was NOT a bomb, but merely an accident that could have happened to any older jet. These types of articles DO NOT BELONG on this site...Mr. Elbert, take your hysterical rantings elsewhere!

Username: AKE0404AR [User Info]
Posted 2001-03-12 19:57:32 and read 32768 times.

Sorry I have to dissagree with the former post.

I found that article well written and it was very touching.

Why can't someone who has lost a loved one express their feelings, of course there is anger and hate towards many people and organizations involved but that is nothing but human.

I am impressed that Nathan has the courage to express his feelings on this site.

And yes the article belongs on this site. It is an aviation site,stunning pictures, great trip reports make people happy and smiling but we can not forget about the tragic moments if an airplane crashes. Family members, friends are just lost and you won't see them anymore.
I have flown a lot approx 65.000miles in the last 2 years and sometimes I sit at the gate and think is that the last time I will enter the boarding door and what will happen if............................

The people on this planet have a tendency to look away if something bad happens, the world is not always happy.
A lot of sad things happen every day,even though, you,me, the person next to you is not involved, but maybe the person down the street lost someone.

May our thoughts with the ones who lost someone on this tragic plane crash.

Vasco Garcia

Username: N766UA [User Info]
Posted 2001-03-12 20:41:05 and read 32768 times.

I don't see what GODIA is thinking. How can you possibly say such a thing? This is a very sobering article. It made me really think about what happened and what it must have been like as a passenger, crew member, or family member. I personally have never lost anyone in such a way, but I do know one thing. You never get over it. You can't help but think of them in their final moments and you hurt for all your days. No one will ever know what such a loss is like until they experiance it themselves. It is natural to be skeptical. It is hard to believe anything the authorities say. Your body wont let you believe it. But it all boils down to the truth. The FBI, ATF, NTSB, FAA ,etc. did their best to solve this accident. Many of them have family themselves. Many want to know the truth just as badly. They aren't in there to make up reasons. But for a family member, I know that is hard to believe.

Username: Delta717 [User Info]
Posted 2001-03-12 23:21:59 and read 32768 times.

I remember when TWA 800 crashed. I live on Long Island and they stopped TV programming to notify us about the crash that happened off of Fire Island. I look back on July 17, 1996 and remember the controversy. The missle theory, the bad wiring, a bomb, we didn't know what happened. It was the worst crash to happen on Long Island since Avianca flt #52.

Username: At1anti5 [User Info]
Posted 2001-03-12 23:50:28 and read 32768 times.

First of all, Nathan, that was a fantastic story. It was most moving and it was great. My heart goes out to you and your family and I hope that all you memories are pleasant ones.

I remember the day TWA800 went down. My family and I had just sat down to watch CNN, and they reported this horrific crash. Was it a missle? I believe so, the faulty wiring theory doesn't do much for me. However, I believe it was an accident and this was a horrific thing.

Lastly, GODIA, I think YOU are the one with hysterical rantings. Nowhere in the article does he become excited. It was beautifully written and makes one think of themselves, and evaluate their lives accordingly. I think you should grow up and ask Daddy not to let you on to these nasty sites again.


Username: Mr.BA [User Info]
Posted 2001-03-13 00:31:51 and read 32768 times.

Mr Nathan, it is a great and fantastic article. It is very touching. I admire your courage to express your feelings here. Yes, Mr Garcia is right, we come here to enjoy everything about planes, discuss everything aspects of civil aviation but we how can we forget when a plane crashes? I will always pray that nothing of such will ever happen again... never on any airline, never on any jets.

GODIA... I can't belive a 36-45 year old can say this to hurt people. I really wonder if you are between 36-45 or some sort... of 5-10?


Username: BO__einG [User Info]
Posted 2001-03-13 00:40:06 and read 32768 times.

July 17, 1996.
I remember myself also.
Was watching the Olympics brodcast in Atlanta..
Suddenly. and Interuption..
TWA Flight 800 Crashed off the coast of New York killing all 229..
My first reaction: Yeah Right!~
During the starting days of the Summer Olympic games in Atlanta already there is a tragedy?!

But it was true.. Sad..
I got a whole bunch of theories and gunk like Bombs/Missles/Dust/Faulty Wiring/ and most bizzare of all. and ASTEROID!!!!! correction ahem. METEORITE!
But honestly I think that nobody knows for sure what really happened.

Ya. I too think that GODIA needs to fix up a bit.
That wasnt that nice of you.

In 97.. August 3 I think.
Korean Air Flight 801 Crashed in Guam Agana field near its NDB.. 229 DEAD!!
Then again. there was weather and then theres Korean Air..


Username: Nikonman [User Info]
Posted 2001-03-13 00:48:14 and read 32768 times.

Very well written...my thoughts go out to you and your family.

Username: ConcordeBoy [User Info]
Posted 2001-03-13 00:58:43 and read 32768 times.

Egad people,

GODIA does have a right to an opinion. Either that or my over-blown Americanism is flaring up again [hmm, must be time for another shot]. If he was offended by the post.. let him express it. It does not mean you must agree with it, it's not a matter of "niceness".... I too was taken back by the somewhat gruesome detail in the post, but also have to admit that the writing as a whole is fantastic in its diction and composition. It paints a vivid picture of the possible events of that night. I hope this article helps those whose lives this accident, as well as the plight of Air France 4590, has touched come closer (or as close as they may ever come) to closure. Best wishes.

Username: Elal106 [User Info]
Posted 2001-03-13 01:50:24 and read 32768 times.

I lost my cousin on flight 800.
I strongly believe it is a missle coverup by the navy but who knows. If the fuel tank wireing theory actually happened then airplanes would be falling out of the sky everyday do to old wiring and such.

Username: FlyerC_B757 [User Info]
Posted 2001-03-13 03:05:04 and read 32768 times.

That was a very touching article. It was well written. My condolences go out to the family and friends of the crew and passengers who lost loved ones. :(

Username: VirginA340 [User Info]
Posted 2001-03-13 04:52:39 and read 32768 times.

This is quite a tuching article and my condolenses go out to you, your family over the loss of your sister. I lost my best friend aboard PAN AM 103 I had felt almost the same way. I was 9 years old when that flight went down. My friend was only 8 when he and his family were murdered for some cause that to this day I still can't quite understand. I hope that you can find closure and may god be with you through good and tough times. It was quite tragic for my parents in having to tell me this info a few days before christmas. My house looks like a Christmas painting done by Norman Rockwell. I had expected a great time around Christmas Eve and Morning as well. But that was not to come. A while after I did feel suicidal and distraught. But thanks to my parents and family friends. I had eventually gotten over it. But I'll never ever forget it. I'm one of the luck ones. Bear in mind that there are family members who lost loved ones on PA 103 who had let it eat them up inside out. As one man had commented on the death of his son "The only closure I'll ever recieve is when the lid to my coffin is closed." Some to this day are still fighting like Susan and Dan Cohen who lost their daughter Theo (one of the 35 Syracuse University students) who was aboard the plane. If it weren't for their help then the trial wouldn't have gotten this far. In this case the FAA(for not warning the flying public about the Helsinki warning) PAN AM(shoddy security and for getting the FAA waivers issued by FAA (Tombstone agency by plane crash survivors, Families of victims as well as members of safety watch groups and certain NTSB investigators) security chief Dan Salazar to skip hand searches on unaccompanied bags on PA planes including PA 103. originated from Europe) PAN AM (corporation of murderurs as echoed by families of PA 103) management Martin Shugrue and Thomas Plaskett knew about the shoddy security at FRA since 1986 (due to a security evaluation done by an ex EL AL Security executive named Issac Yeffet )but took no action to correct the problem. In the report it cited that security officers did not know what a bomb looked like because they have n't seen one real or fake and that the cargo holds were venerable to bomb explosions. The report had concluded. The fact that no major disaster has taken place to this date is merely providential." Yeffet also pointed out that many of PA's security was a mess. PAN AM's top security exec Dan Sonenson said in a Telex that if a passenger failed to show up for a flight and his/her luggage was already on-board a plane; "We go!!!!" Pan Am had violated the passenger bag match in order to save time and $$$. To produce such requests in waivers would be in writing but the airline claimed that it was a verbal agreement. as well as the Bush Administration is to blame for not going after the ones who did it but rather dumped the whole thing on the UN's lap and tried to sweep the whole thing under the rug since he didn't want to touch the case. Once agian I feel your loss and you have my condolense.

GODIA; You comments were out of line and I believe you owe Nathan an apology. Unless you have lost a loved one in a disaster of this proportion than you have no right to control our emotions and tell us what we think. We are merely being human after a piece of our hearts were ripped out and could never be replaced by a loss of a loved one. If you can't handle it then go someplace else instead of criticising us in our expressions. You wouldn't do such a disgraceful thing to a victim's family face to face so why don't you drop the act. You sound no better than the PA employees and managemnt along with the FAA officials that the 103 family members delt with over the years. Your the one thats the ranting lunatic and I'm also shocked that a 36-45 year old can say such things. I'm just over 21 and I'm showing more class than you are toward our forum member.

Username: Egyptair990 [User Info]
Posted 2001-03-13 05:02:36 and read 32768 times.

This was a very touching article. Fine job! My heart goes out to you and your whole family. I clearly remember the day that it happened. I live in New York, not too far at all form where the crash happened. I remember hearing it on the news. I find it amazing how everyone remembers flight 800. It is like America's default plane crash (not to insult anyone). No one remembers Pan Am 103, Egyptair 990, the Concorde that recently crashed outside Paris. Maybe because this particular crash happened so close to home. This crash has truely touched everyone here in New York, I don't know if others in America and the world can say the same.

Username: Canadair 14 [User Info]
Posted 2001-03-13 05:58:00 and read 32768 times.

That was an excellent article, it definetly belongs on this great avaiation site. This is one of the deepest and well written articles I have ever read. I think GODIA has the right to her own opinion but that doesnt we have to all accept it.
Great article
My heart goes out to you and your family

Username: GKirk [User Info]
Posted 2001-03-13 16:05:10 and read 32768 times.

My deepest sympathies go to you Nathan and all those who have lost loved ones in air disasters. The article was one of the most moving pieces I have ever read. I was in Lockerbie on the night Pan Am 103 went down and lost my best mate at that time so I know how you must have felt. Once again my heartfelt sympathies to all who have lost loved ones in air disasters.

Username: Greg [User Info]
Posted 2001-03-13 16:35:06 and read 32768 times.

I won't comment on the article itself, it was clearing written with a sensational melodramatic effect to get his point accross. The tradegy is bad enough, the cheap sentiment in the writing does not do it any credence--sorry. But if it makes the author feel better, that's great.

We shouldn't compare TWA800 and PanAM 103. One was clearly an accident--(a tragic an accident as can happen). However, 103 was an act of murder. A calculated and premeditative move to murder several hundred people. Those images from Scotland will not long be forgotten. I asked my coworkers if they were familiar with TWA800 or PanAM103...some remembered 800 very well. Everyone knew of Lockerbie.

My sympathies to all relatives and friends of both.

Username: GODIA [User Info]
Posted 2001-03-13 18:08:11 and read 32768 times.

I am surprised at the depth of feeling on this subject...but I am willing to accept the opinions of others. Mr. Nathan, I was objecting to the gruesome and graphic nature of your post...NOT YOUR HEARTFELT SADNESS AND SENSE OF LOSS. I don't understand the nature of your belief system, which seems to be different from mine. I haven't lost a close family member in this way, but I would hope that my faith in God would sustain me. Your post didn't mention anything about a belief in the hereafter, WHICH IS NONE OF MY BUSINESS EITHER, but I guess that also put me off. I AM TRULY SORRY IF I UPSET YOU, AND I APOLOGIZE. To the rest of you who disagreed with my post, I'm sorry as well...I DO have faith in the FBI and NTSB people, because they have families and they fly, too. If the unthinkable happens, AND I DO THINK ABOUT IT ON EVERY FLIGHT, I hope and pray that God will care for all of us on the plane.

I hope this explains my reasons, even if people may not agree with me. Thanks for your thoughts.


Username: Johnnie [User Info]
Posted 2001-03-13 22:56:17 and read 32768 times.


My heart goes out to you, your family, and all the families and friends of the passengers and crew of TWA
800. You have been labelled as "angry" and your choice of wording has been defined as "morbid". It amazes me that those critics of your heartfelt article
fail to comprehend the sheer despair and horrific sense of helplessness experienced by the loved ones of victims of air disasters.
"Walk a mile in my shoes", is all I have to say to those who judge. And God forbid anyone should walk along the path that you and the other families and friends were forced to venture down the night of July 17, 1996.
And to think, all because of the sheer arrogance and later ignorance of the U.S. Navy, has so much pain been inflicted upon so many.
The day will come, mark my words it will, when the truth of the fate of Flight 800 shall be known. Secrets and cover-ups can only stay such for so long.
As a former Flight Attendant, I am always shocked by air crashes. this particular one, along with Swissair Flight 111, devastated me.
May all on-board TW800 find everlasting peace.
"Oh how I have danced the skies on Laughter silvered wings.....".

Username: Aa737 [User Info]
Posted 2001-03-14 06:14:16 and read 32768 times.

That made for a great read, very touching and written very well. I remember when I first heard about TWA 800. I was flying for the first time alone, from my grandparents house in OKC back to my own in ORD. I was reading the front page of the USA Today. This was the day after it happened.

Username: 787 [User Info]
Posted 2001-03-14 06:42:58 and read 32768 times.

Dear readers,

First off, GODIA has every right to express his feelings in reaction to my writing. However, when I wrote it there wasn't anger or hysteria. I'm not sure I can convey the feeling you get when something like that happens, but it was a great great peace. I did not write the article to express anger or discontent, to condemn or impugn, but rather to hope and to help, to put a mirror in front of someone with too much makeup on in the hopes that they will see there's no more beauty than they had originally. The more we do, the less we seem to achieve. I wrote my article to have a moral, as for whether or not it did I cannot say as I'm not in a position to judge my own work, but I wrote it for good things, not for bad.
Some of you have objected to GODIA's statements, and while I thought them rather harsh, I cannot say that there's much to be said for quarelling over them. It seems, in fact, to be a prime example of what I wrote the article about. Such trivial things, please - let's not fight about this, heaven knows I'd hate for that to be the wages of my work.
If the story seemed "melodramatic", well I suppose I have this in me as an author, but moreover, to experience it isn't "melo" in any way, shape, or form.
And for those of you who thought this was "graphic", I have things well beyond this to show. I [blush] wrote a sexual fantasy when I was a virgin teenager that caused a twice-married woman to have to ask if it was fiction or fact. I've also written a bit on what it looks like in some of the less pleasent psychiatric wards - the real ones - in the world. By whatever standards you measure writing, re-adjust them and call this tame. I write what I feel, and this is often why it starts controversy.
This screename is not mine, I am using a friend's currently. Should you wish to EMail me as many have, please simply click on my name at the bottom of the article.

As far as a belief in the hereafter is concerned, I personally am agnostic. I prefer to find greatness in what we leave behind, as the moral of my article hopefully indicates, but as an agnostic, I can say only that I do not know of a better place beyond but at the same time hope, sincerely, that there is one.

Thank you all for your responses, and thank you all for your kindness, consideration,( or condemnation).

Thank you,

-Nathan Elbert

Username: Boeing nut [User Info]
Posted 2001-03-14 06:50:46 and read 32768 times.


My only relation to TWA 800, was the same as millions of others. I knew no one one the flight, or know anyone who knew someone on the flight. But after reading this striking piece of literature, i feel I knew someone on 800. I started reading......I became glued to the computer screen. I agree with everyone here, just an incredible story. I also happen to agree with Mark (GODIA). There are some details that maybe could have been left out. However, the fact of the matter is....everything that Nathan wrote, happened. He exposed to us that this wasn't something that most of us just read in the paper. This happened to friends. To families. To soulmates. It is a story I will tell all my friends to read. This is a beautiful piece of writing. Well done Nathan, well done. I doubt I'm alone by saying that all of us who have read this story today, will be thinking of everyone on 800 before we go to sleep tonight.

Warmest regards,


Username: United Airline [User Info]
Posted 2001-03-14 07:24:29 and read 32768 times.

Very nice article. Very touching.

May God bless all of you..... Especially those who died on TW 800.

Username: Canadair 14 [User Info]
Posted 2001-03-14 18:33:23 and read 32768 times.

I totally agree with Nathan. The way he has depicted his article is not graphic compared to many things by any means. He is purely telling us what happend so if we can't face the truth then i don't know what we can face.
Great article Nathan

Username: Nicolaki [User Info]
Posted 2001-03-14 21:46:59 and read 32768 times.

Beautiful article Nathan, I simpathize with the loss of one of your loved one.


Username: Tomh [User Info]
Posted 2001-03-15 13:57:58 and read 32768 times.


I feel better having read your article. It is hard to get to the true feelings behind our lives. It appears to me that you have searched for your feelings and shared what you have found. Thank you.

True feelings are quite unrelated to the noise we deal with daily, the sound bites and hype. I watched the TWA 800 information tumble into my awareness through television, like most of us. I could tell that the media had no idea one of the largest Search and Rescue organizations on the East Coast is right there at Gabreski Air National Guard Base on Long Island. Or that up until a year or so earlier, Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn had been a Coast Guard Air Station. Hopefully, we did not overlook nearby resources, and that the initial response was as efficient and timely as possible. We did learn that it made no difference.

When the missile theory came out, I was shocked. I have worked on air-to-air missiles, though not in the Navy. Still, I could see that many layers of safety had to be missing for this theory to be remotely possible. I cannot believe the Navy illuminates or tracks any airliners with their fire-control radar during training. I am not able to imagine that on one of the world's busiest airline routes, the US Navy is down below playing target practice. If this has happened at all in the past, there are thousands of Navy personnel who know it, and a huge story would have surfaced by now.
I'm sorry for your loss, Nathan.
Tom Hildreth

Username: Bennie999 [User Info]
Posted 2001-03-16 05:20:56 and read 32768 times.

I was moved by the simplicity and poignancy of your writing Nathan. It touched creatively the images you were setting up and drew me in gracefully...the tender and the hard images. We have to face both in life and you triumphed in allowing us to see this final journey of your sister with different eyes. True eyes. Eyes that the media cannot catch in their rush and commercialism and sensationalism. Thank you Nathan for taking your grief and your creative energy and giving us something of this calibre.

As for GODIO? He may have the right to free speech, but not to wound and accuse as he did in his article by labeling Nathan as hysterical and as someone ranting. Simply untrue opionions Godio! It is your own coloured glasses that blind you to the heart beneath Nathan's writing. And any anger that might have come through in Nathan's article is not wrong. Anger is an important process in the grieving, but his writing is not from an angry heart. I am with you Nathan. Be strong and know we care, as does the God who is there.

Username: Bennie999 [User Info]
Posted 2001-03-16 05:25:24 and read 32768 times.

Godio...Thank you for your humility in apologising for what you maybe didn't realise you were saying in your first article.
I still did not find any of Nathan's article offensive but can only again thank him for his bravery and commitment to the reality of this tragic event and his sister caught up in the midst of it. Thank you Nathan.

Username: 787 [User Info]
Posted 2001-03-16 06:23:22 and read 32768 times.

Bennie999, GoDIA sent me an EMail apologizing for the unkindness of his words, but don't let your own colored glasses blind you from what we can learn from those who have criticisms. It's like looking at a room in the light, only when the lights are turned off by that occasional darkness do your other senses increase.
(As before, I am using someone else's screename).

Thank you all, it's wonderful to be able to reach people,


Username: Martin404 [User Info]
Posted 2001-03-17 04:05:42 and read 32768 times.

I knew one of the adult victims on 800 and had friends with children on that flight. They were all on there way to Paris as part of the Montoursville Pa High School class trip. Although I like many others at first was convinced it was a bomb which brought it down, I am more that willing to accept the findings of the FBI and the NTSB. The idea of the U S Navy shooting it down is pure "Oliver Stone" conspiracy bunk. There would have been entirely too many people involved to not have someone break the silence.

Username: Fokker 28 [User Info]
Posted 2001-03-17 19:29:46 and read 32768 times.

VERY Well written, Nathen
Sorry for the loss of your sister


Username: An-225 [User Info]
Posted 2001-03-18 10:56:15 and read 32768 times.

My thoughts go out to you... This is one of the best articles, and one of the saddest ones as well, that I've ever had a chance to read. Now, do not let anybody try and sell closure to you. The loss, the longing, that hollow feeling in your gut will never completely go away... Nor should it. You deal with it, and keep moving on. Closure does not exist, so don't let anybody try and sell it to you when you're hurting.


Username: Sk1410 [User Info]
Posted 2001-03-19 03:18:21 and read 32768 times.

Very good article. I just want to send my condolences to anybody who had lost someone in such a terrific crash. I remember May, 1987 when Il-62M of Polish Airlines crashed killing all 187 occupants and crew. One of the victim, was my friend's wife. I remember, that on the way back from the airport, the guy had broken radio so he could not hear the news about the crash. couple of hours later he got home and was joking about him being a widow for couple of months, because his wife was gone to the US. That's when he was told the news about the crash. His brother told him that he was a real widow, because the plane went down. My neighbor got stroke and end up in the hospital. Thanks God he was OK couple of weeks later. But he was devastated and I never saw him smiling again. 3 years later I moved to Canada.

Username: Yojo87 [User Info]
Posted 2001-03-26 22:04:32 and read 32768 times.

A good article, Mr. Elbert. And as Mr. Garcia said, I have to disagree with GODIA's comment. I didn't like what you said about death, but this was an amazing story. I also agree with the previos comment.

Username: Redngold [User Info]
Posted 2001-04-06 04:17:45 and read 32768 times.

The night that TWA 800 went down I watched the news reports late into the night, staring in horror, knowing deep within my soul that I knew someone who had perished on that plane.

It was nearly six weeks later when my sister called me to tell me that one of her classmates, one of my fellow squad members in the high school marching band, had died with her sister on that plane.

There have been many times when I have imagined the infinite pain of that night. For her family, which must have screeched to a halt in horror on their way from the airport when they heard that their daughters' flight had been shorter than their drive home. For my friend's sister, who was finally getting a chance to take her little sib to France, and ended up dying in a ball of flames. For my friend, part of whose legacy is having been one of the first bodies recovered after the crash.

Thank you, Nathan.

In memory of Patricia and Kimberly Kwiat.


Username: PK743 [User Info]
Posted 2001-04-13 01:29:27 and read 32768 times.

First of all I would like to express my sympathy to you and your family. When people pass away it's hard but to die in such a way is extreamly hard to come to terms with.
I remember TWA800 - I still have newspaper cuttings somewhere.
It's amazing how many people have perished to the summits of the Atlantic Ocean - Titanic, numerous air disasters, the slave trade and all these pop into my head when I sit in my seat for them 6 hours i am flying over the atlantic and look down. I always travel with my family (as I am 15) and I ALWAYS sit next to my 80 year old grandad, Arthur, and I refuse to sit next to anyone else. He nodds off all the time so I just get to look out the window and think of stuff like plane crashes and the safety aspects of a 747! Why I sit next to him I do not know - I feel something - safety. Sounds weird I know but if anything did happen to my plane the family back home can remember us two. never apart - if we are not 40,000 ft up in the air we are at the airport plane spotting!
When he dies - i could be sitting next to a complete stranger but he will always be with me - I will remember the years we have flew together had good times together - voices will pop into my head of the outragous things he has said during flights! and basically the moral of the story is that where ever you are in the air, on a train on a boat or just rocking in your armchair when you go old - your family who perished on TWA800 will always be with you. No matter what. Through good and bad times - they are with you every step you take.

My mom nearly died in a plane crash when she was pregnant with me - thankfully the plane landed safely (after nearly crashing into a mountain (fokker 50) !) and I have had an emergancy landing in a Airbus A320 of Monarch Airlines.

I fly to SFO in two weeks from my home here in the UK. I am flying on a 747 jet with Virgin Atlantic. I have seat numbers 51 J/K and 52 J/K right at the back - I will sit next to my grandad once again - and on the rtn flight in seats 52 a/b + 53 a/b. If in two weeks anything happens to VS019 or VS008 in four weeks time - remember if anything does happen - I will always care and look after my family - just from god's hands.

Take care,
Marc Bowers.

Username: Blink182 [User Info]
Posted 2001-04-15 18:38:46 and read 32768 times.

Beautiful,that is the only way I can describe the article, just beautiful.

Username: GUNDU [User Info]
Posted 2001-04-26 11:44:23 and read 32768 times.

It's too beautiful. Thank you Nathan for such a good article.

Username: Skyhawk [User Info]
Posted 2001-05-20 18:36:48 and read 32768 times.

Nathan, your article touched me deeply. I realize that Godia has every right in the world to his opinions, but he did seem extremely insenitive to what you and your family have gone through. In fact only those who have lost loved ones through such horrific circumstances can begin to appreciate it. It certainly doesn't compare to your loss, but I think I have a small sense of your it, you see I lost many friends when Pan Am 103 was blown up over Lockerbie, I am a former Pan Am flight attendant and was scheduled to be on that flight. But for the grace of God, I wasn't. It was difficult going back to work after that flight, so many emotions, so many people with so many hateful things to say. I actually had one man yell at me saying, "I hope your plane blows up just like 103" because I found out later he hadn't gotten his suitcase! Can you believe it? The return part of my trip was out of London, I was deheading(riding as a passenger) so I had plenty of time to get nervous. I actually wrote a good-bye letter to my husband and to my son. I knew that even though nobody had survived Lockerbie, papers had and I needed to put into written words how I felt about the two of them. Somehow it made me feel better. Years later, I showed that letter to them. I know that you said your are an agnostic, but I'm not, so I hope that you are not offended when I tell you that I will pray for you and your family as I have for all those involved on both planes. As AN-225 said, closure won't happen, the gross pain may in time get easier to deal with, you will keep coping with day to day events, but closure? NO. And who really wants it anyway? You don't want to forget, you want to remember the happy, great times of your lives and hope that someday you will see them again. My very best to you and your family.

Username: Leftseat86 [User Info]
Posted 2002-03-09 23:58:24 and read 32768 times.

I will not say that I sympathize with you, or understand your loss, because I cannot. I have never lost a loved one like you have, and I'm sure I have no idea what its like. I still cant help feeling bad though, and I'm really sorry.....

Username: LMML 14/32 [User Info]
Posted 2009-12-29 04:58:43 and read 26435 times.

GODIA how can you use such despicable words? If you found this articl offensive you should simply have ignored it. You don't know what it's like loosing your sister. The author does. When a part of you is taken away, in whatever way, you take it agains the world. Against God Himself. Beleive me I know. I too lost my sister, my only sister, at a tender age. It is said that time is a healer. But no. It has not been for me. I hope that the author has come to terms with his loss. May you never go through such experiences, but please be empathise. That is the least you can do.

Username: Ezifun [User Info]
Posted 2010-03-04 21:52:46 and read 25910 times.

Thanx Nathatan telling us reality of life.Life is not only for[url=http://www.ezifun.com] fun[/url] and happiness we have to face many hardships and losses.The loss of our dear ones effects our life completely and we can not help but tearing.

Username: A320FlyGuy [User Info]
Posted 2014-09-17 14:19:20 and read 6170 times.

First of all, my deepest condolences - I can only imagine what your family went through and continues to go through every day.

I was very young when TWA 800 occurred and I distinctly remember watching television and NBC or ABC interrupted and the first thing I saw was the water on fire.

For me, that accident had a very polarizing impact - As you may gather from my username, I am currently an A320 pilot - at the time that the TWA accident occurred, I was less than a week from flying to visit my grandparents in Quebec...for some reason, I was terrified to fly and I begged my parents to send me by rail instead. I was placed on board a VIA Rail LRC train to Quebec…which was an experience in itself…but I digress.

In any case, I found myself absolutely consumed by trying to understand this accident. It was the first major accident I recall following - that summer I found myself reading every single article that I could find - (as I was spending the summer in Quebec, finding an English language newspaper was no small feat).

Growing up in an aviation family (my grandfather was a lead engineer for Lockheed L-1011 TriStar, my grandmother was a flight attendant (technically a stewardess back then)...jet fuel and aviation gas run in my blood.

When I brought up to my family about my total fear of flying after TWA 800, both of my grandparents made it their purpose to get me on a flight to break the fear. As it happened, we boarded an Air Canada A320...since this was pre September 11; it was much easier for a passenger to visit the flight deck. I was amazed by the A320 and all of its technology. For a 10 year old who had only ever seen pictures of a fight deck and a quick visit to the cockpit on the L-1011 TriStar, being able to spend about 45 minutes in the cockpit of a cutting edge A320-200 was not only something that amazed me, but it also solidified my career choice.

In writing this message, I feel somewhat guilty that a career that I love came at such an incredibly high cost for so many families and it took a disaster to not only quell my fears but launch a career.

The thought of losing a sibling in such a sudden, violent and seemingly unexplained disaster is a thought that I cannot even begin to try and process mentally. I am the oldest of three and both of my younger siblings have traveled extensively...there have been so many times that I have seen them off at the gate and never thought twice about not seeing them after their journey.

I cannot adequately convey my condolences to you and your family - It has been said that time heals all wounds, but what you have had to live through is something that I don't know if I could ever recover from. If I was able to have even a quarter of your strength and resolve, I would consider myself fortunate.

With every best wish for you and your family;
A320 FlyGuy

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