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Fire in the Sky

TWA 800 In-Flight Breakup

Trans World Airlines (TWA) Flight 800 was only 12 minutes into a July 19, 1996, trip from New York to Paris when an in-flight explosion destroyed the passenger jet, plunging it into the Atlantic with 230 people on board. The aircraft was climbing south of the Long Island coast near East Moriches, New York, when suddenly portions of the Boeing 747-131 fuselage beneath the center-wing fuel tank began to separate from the rest of the aircraft. This led to the loss of the entire forward fuselage. Investigators labored over 15 months to recover more than 300 tons of debris and to separate material of the Boeing from earlier boat and aircraft accidents; the subsequent National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation required over four years. Eventually, NTSB concluded that an explosion in the center-wing fuel tank separated the fuselage, causing the passenger jet to crash into the ocean.