LONG ISLAND, N.Y. — Saturday marks 25 years since the TWA Flight 800 crash off the coast of Long Island.
The Paris-bound Boeing 747 exploded and crashed just 13 minutes after departing Kennedy Airport, killing all 230 people on board.
The tragedy prompted one of the largest and most expensive aviation investigations in history.
Scores of U.S. Navy divers dove 120 feet into the ocean to retrieve the wreckage back in 1996.
Over 95% of the wreckage was recovered and examined by worldwide experts in an effort to determine the cause of such a calamity.
After scrutinizing more than a million pieces of wreckage, the focus turned to an accident caused by an explosion in a nearly empty center fuel tank.
It’s believed that Flight 800 became its own bomb as it sat on a broiling hot tarmac. With air conditioning units under the nearly empty tank, the heat turned a puddle of kerosene into volatile vapors.
The law firm representing over 100 families of victims determined in its own investigation that aging planes like TWA 800 had wiring problems, as seen in equipment taken from retired aircraft.
The CIA later produced a computer generated recreation of the final minutes of the flight, showing flaming residue fuel dripping from the severed tank before the second explosion that doomed the plane.