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Copter Pilot Says Rocket Hit Plane

Wed., March 12, 1997, midnight

A military helicopter pilot who witnessed the explosion of TWA Flight 800 repeatedly told investigators he thought a missile struck the plane, a source said Tuesday.

The Air National Guard pilot has not been allowed to speak publicly because of an FBI ban on federal employees speaking about the investigation. The pilot, Capt. Chris Baur, is a civilian pilot for U.S. Customs.

Baur’s eyewitness report comes to light as critics of the investigation claim to have evidence suggesting that Flight 800 was shot down by an errant U.S. Navy missile. A Pentagon spokesman said investigators had thoroughly probed the issue, even taking inventory of the Navy’s missile arsenal.

“Personnel have been interviewed, records have been checked. There is absolutely no evidence to support this theory,” said Kenneth Bacon.

One of the reasons why a missile remains under consideration was the number of reports from people who said they saw something in the sky the night of the crash. Baur’s clear view from the helicopter and his military training would make his account one of the most credible.

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