Not to spread any more bovine fertilizer, but perhaps we shouldn't accept EITHER the "accident" or "terrorist" theory until we get MORE of the facts (good chance we'll never get ALL; we rarely do in air crashes). Nevertheless, I'm a bit leery about a rush to the "it was an accident" conclusion, because the alternative is fairly plausible:
Consider the lowly Stinger missile. A portable, self-contained, passive infrared low-altitude anti-aircraft weapon capable of being fired from almost anywhere by a crew of 1-2 men. Afghanistan (and the Taliban) is crawling with them, courtesy of Uncle Sam, who donated them to the mujihaddin in the '80s to fight the Russians. They had a devastating impact on the Soviets' low-flying pretty-good Mi-24 "Hind" helo gunships (the kind you saw in "Rambo"), and scads of them remained in Pashtun hands after the Russian pullout in '89.
Stingers have had NO impact in the current Afghan conflict because we've been careful to keep our B-52s, B-2s, and FA-18s well above their 10,000-foot maximum ceiling. And because of them, we've not sent in our very effective low-altitude A-10 "Warthog" tank killers, which are jet-powered but slow and operate well below 10,000' for hunting purposes.
(Pity. The A-10s kicked Serbian ass in Kosovo, sending many T-55 tanks to the junkyard and spreading a few depleted uranium cannon rounds across the countryside for the joy that's in it.)
Now, American Airlines is not so savvy as General Tommy Franks. They don't expect to be shot at on a routine basis, even when taking off low, relatively slow and above a terrorist's Eden like the environs of Sheepshead Bay.
So picture an A-300 pulling up in a takeoff at maybe 300 mph, never exceeding 2,800 feet all the time it's airborne and suddenly/mysteriously developing an explosion in one of its GE "heat sources". Sure, nobody noticed a missile, but when you live or work that close to an airport, you don't even bother to glance up at planes after a while. All the eyewitness accounts I heard said they heard a "boom", THEN looked up at the plane.
So while I'm hoping desperately for a CONSIDERED finding of mechanical problems, I also think the "take-down" scenario has some credibility. We'll just have to see. All I know is, it's an even better time not to own airline stock...
My heartfelt sympathies to the Rockaway community and the families of all the dear souls on that plane.
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