The light airplane packed with explosives theory was total......there hasn't been a word to explain just how total it was but it totally was.
area investigative reporter and author of the book that proposed the idea seems like a real idiot especially when he explained "easy to do for a pilot". Yeah, right. Fine, you go get a PPL and try and fly a Piper into a 742 at night climbing and see just how "easy" it is, then we might talk.
The missile theory I didn't buy either. The type of missiles they were showing were Stinger types, which are IR
seeking missiles. As such, if they had been fired they would not have homed in on the center part of the plane, but rather the engine exhaust and even then they aren't packed with that much in the way of high explosives. Missiles like that are intended to do critical damage to a small area rather then extreme catastrophic damage. The IAF figured that out with A-4s getting lost to Soviet SA
-7 shoulder fired missiles. So they put the tail pipe extensions on the A-4s to move the blast radius away from the rudder and elevator in the event of a hit from an SA
-7 or similar missile. Granted later missiles are packed with more explosives then an SA
-7. But, somebody tried that on the DHL A300 freighter in Iraq and showed just how difficult it was to bring a plane down, even if it hit (i.e. it didn't crash although landing was a real chore).
The biggest hits against both these theories is that none of these proposed "attack" methods have been repeated either. No extremist has flown a small plane into a climbing airliner or successfully brought down an airliner with a shoulder fire missile from the altitudes we are talking about. I would figure if such an attack strategy did work, then it would become a part of the terrorist play book.
As for the Navy missile theory, a conspiracy is only as strong as its weakest link. And if such a thing had been done, then scuttlebutt of the incident would have gone up one side of the ship and down the other before the ship got back to port. As a result, even if a lid was ordered, somebody would have talked to the press by now or at least blabbed it at a local bar, resulting in a trail that can be traced back. That is hundreds of Naval personell that would need to have tabs kept on, a logistical nightmare and statistical and practical impossibility.