Ukrainian 752 Shoot-Down Mirrors Fate of TWA 800

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau is saying out loud what others have been thinking since the news broke that Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 crashed soon after taking off from the airport in Tehran — namely, that “the plane was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile,” likely unintentionally.

According to the New York Times, American officials also had a “high level of confidence” that the Iranians destroyed the airliner by mistake.  One official specifically cited two SA-15 missiles fired from an Iranian air defense system.

If Trudeau proves right, this will not be the first time an anxious military accidentally shot down a non-threatening commercial aircraft.  On July 17, 1996, a comparable missile strike destroyed TWA 800 off the coast of Long Island shortly after the Boeing 747 took off from JFK. TWA 800: The Crash, th... Jack Cashill Best Price: $9.71 Buy New $11.93 (as of 06:50 EST - Details)

We know why the Iranians were antsy earlier this week.  Their military fired off multiple missiles late Tuesday night at American targets and were likely expecting retaliation.  On July 17, 1996, the American military had reason to be on edge as well.

Two days before the start of the Atlanta Olympics, the Clinton administration had the U.S. Navy on the highest state of alert since the Cuban Missile crisis.  In this hair-trigger environment, accidents could happen.

Accidents had happened before in such an environment.  On July 3, 1988, at the tail end of the Iran-Iraq War, an Aegis cruiser in the Persian Gulf, the USS Vincennes, fired two Standard Missiles at a commercial Iranian Airbus, IR 655.

IR 655 had reached 13,500 feet, a final altitude almost identical to TWA 800’s, when Capt. Will Rogers III gave the order to fire.  Rogers and his crew had mistaken the ascending passenger jet with 290 people on board for a descending Iranian F-14, a fighter plane.

With the media’s help, the truth about the Vincennes ultimately surfaced.  With the media’s help, the truth about TWA 800 was successfully buried, but here is what we have been able to dig up.

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