Watch CBS News

Remains Of TWA Flight 800 To Be Destroyed

SHIRLEY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) - The remains of one of the nation's worst air disasters are going to be dismantled.

TWA Flight 800, reassembled after it blew apart in the skies off Long Island, is being taken apart and destroyed.

AS CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff, who covered the 1996 explosion, reports, the charred twisted remains of TWA Flight 800 have sat mournfully in a Virginia warehouse for two decades, teaching aviation safety.

But the National Transportation Safety Board says its useful life is over. The warehouse lease is expiring.

"It will live on in the training world. It just won't be physically here in the training center," said NTSB Managing Director Sharon Bryson.,

The reconstruction was a tireless feat. For months, pieces of the 747 were salvaged from the ocean off Long Island, painstakingly cobbled back together.

Acting Suffolk Police Commissioner Stuart Cameron took part in the Herculean effort to also identify all of the victims.

"There was tremendous amount of dedication, because as you will remember ,there was controversy over what brought the plane down, and there were theories that it was actually either blown up with a bomb or struck by a missile," Cameron said.

It provided answers. The plane, filled with 230 souls from 14 nations, headed to JFK to Paris, exploded due to electrical failure. And it provided closure. Matthew Ziemkiewicz visited many times. His sister Jill was a flight attendant.

"It just takes your breath away every time I see it," he said.

He believes the reconstruction was a tribute to lives lost, and served its purpose.

"I think that the benefit came from finding a cause of the crash, and proving and debunking conspiracy theories. I think there was a lot of value from it," he said. "People were able to learn from it, and have that as a model for training future investigators, and safety recommendations came out of the reconstruction."

Heidi Snow Cinader, who lost her fiancé, now runs an aircraft grief support nonprofit called ACCESS - AirCraft Casualty Emotional Support Services.

"The fact that this was put together was very meaningful for me, to have something tangible, to help make sense of what had happened," Cinader said.

Families are assured it will be destroyed so that no one can exploit remaining pieces, and will continue to educate, virtually.

"We'll be taking pictures of this reconstruction from numerous, numerous angles and that can be woven into a 3D model," said NTSB Chief Technical Adviser for International Aviation Frank Hilldrup.

The memorial in Smith Point Park continues to draw loved ones, many of whom will gather next Saturday, July 17, to mark the 25th anniversary of that tragic summer evening.

Just this week, James Kallstrom, who led the FBI crash investigation, died. He was 78.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.