In looking at a map depicting the area around JFK, and also the debris field, I had assumed that AA 587 had departed from runway 22R at JFK, and flown straight out. However, msnbc.com is showing a graphic that depicts the flight as departing to the northwest (runway 31L?) then circling around to the south before coming back to the northeast before crashing.
1) Am I missing something here? Wasn't the vertical stabilizer found in Jamaica Bay south of JFK, and the crash area south of that? To me, that signifies a southwest departure off runway 22R.
2) Also, Jamaica Bay and the bird refuge is south and southwest of JFK, so I'm doubting that roosting birds would be found northwest of JFK; migrating birds perhaps.
3) The timeline puts the crash at 3 minutes after takeoff. I'm not sure 3 minutes is enough time to depart runway 31L and make a fairly wide loop to the left back around to the northeast.
Tom in NO (at MSY)