The 800 Club

I was fascinated by Robert Davey's article, "Scattered Clues: New Shadows Darken the TWA Flight 800 Probe" [March 2].

I've worked in the aerospace industry for 20 years, designing radar and other airborne equipment. I know that, due to consumer demand, the development of software programs is often rushed. Inexperienced grads are assigned to quickly throw software systems together. These aren't the high-tech systems portrayed in those Top Gun­type movies. Mistakes happen.

Considering other sightings of missiles by pilots, the proximity of military test areas to commercial airline traffic, and the fact that electronic and software systems don't always function properly, it's pretty clear to me that the U.S. Navy could have fired a missile that brought Flight 800 down.

Darrell Hambley
Monroe, Washington

I appreciated Robert Davey's article about TWA Flight 800. No other news organization has had the courage to suggest that all is not well with the FBI and NTSB investigations. I have a copy of retired navy commander William Donaldson's preliminary report. As a physics professor, I find it makes a very convincing case that the plane was shot down by a missile.

Mark Semon
Bates College Lewiston, Maine

Thank you for keeping the public aware of the government cover-up of the Flight 800 explosion.

I am a former TWA flight engineer. I flew the 747 for 10 years, until I retired in 1985. I have operated the 747 in all kinds of climates, and at very high ambient temperatures (above 100 degrees), both on the ground and in the air. I never had a problem.

Now the investigators are suggesting that a 747, which took off from John F. Kennedy International Airport with outside temperatures in the mid 70s, overheated to such a degree that a mid-air explosion resulted. Male cattle manure!

Lewis B. Judd
Murphy, North Carolina

As a retired senior chief petty officer with 21 years of service, I am highly skeptical of the supposition that the U.S. Navy mistakenly shot down Flight 800.

The reason is rather mundane: classified information is notoriously hard to contain. Someone would have talked by now. If a small weapon-testing craft had screwed up and caused the crash, it might have been successfully hushed up, but on a large navy ship, some sailor would have spilled the beans.

I suspect terrorists.

Randy Gill
San Diego, California

Regarding your coverage of Flight 800: Has anyone considered the possibility of a celestial object downing the plane?

A small, superheated meteor, traveling at high velocity and at the right angle, could easily have penetrated the aircraft and ignited the fuel in the center tank. It's conceivable that one of nature's missiles, not man's, caused this tragedy.

Hey, anything can happen!

Karl Laschet
El Cerrito, California

Courting Criticism

Only in the backlash of postfeminist angst can people like Pat Allen be construed as dating experts [Sharon Lerner, "Dating Guru Advises Husband-Hunters," March 2].

I have a piece of advice for the four-times-married Ms. Allen:

Rule #18 says the fifth time is the charm!

There are no rules to attracting a man, unless it involves adhering to the ancient art of seduction. I've always found that men respond better to passion than manipulation.

Please let me know when Allen will be holding her follow-up seminar: "Why I Married the Wrong Man."

Heidi Herman

Hillary Pillory

Re James Ridgeway's skeptical observations about Hillary Clinton's potential bid for the Senate [Mondo Washington, February 23].

Even if Hillary decides not to run, she has already done New York a great public service. Next to her, Giuliani doesn't look so unbeatable— in fact, he looks downright vulnerable.

New York needs a senator who cares about bread-and-butter issues that affect average New Yorkers— health care, affordable housing, social security, the elderly, and child care.

In short, any senator but Giuliani.

Paul Feiner
Town Supervisor
Greenburgh, New York

Dumb Moses

Leighton Kerner was off base in his review of the Metropolitan Opera's production of Moses und Aron ["Mo' Better Moses," March 2].Indeed, one would have to look hard for a more grossly misconceived interpretation of Schoenberg's philosophical monument.

Not only were the minimalist sets and mod outfits visually off-putting, the stage direction and choreography were motivationally half-baked at best!

More grievous, however, was the musical misinterpretation of Moses. In Schoenberg's score, Moses's lines are specified to be performed Sprechstimme, which puts Sprech (speech) before Stimme (song). The fact that Moses was undeniably more sung than spoken annihilates the intended dialectic between Moses (the inarticulate disciple) and Aron (the man of the people).

In the world of opera, communication takes place between those who sing. Thus, within the paradigm of the sung language of opera, Moses can be perceived as inarticulate only if he speaks. If Moses sings too much, the gap in communication— the essential conflict of the opera— is nullified.

Rebekah Brilliant Gimbel

Gospel Truth

Jonathan Bowles's excellent article, "Uneasy Exits: Nasty Discharges May Put Manhattan Psychiatric Center Patients at Risk" [March 2], exposed a tragic policy that is affecting the lives of many defenseless individuals.

In the Pataki administration's wild rush to cut costs, it is disregarding the unfortunate souls who depend upon these institutions.

As Christ said (Matthew 25:40), ". . . insofar as you did it to one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did it to Me."

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