Twelve minutes after taking off from New York's JFK airport on July 17th, 1996, Trans World Airlines Flight 800 exploded, killing all 230 people on board. Now, almost 18 years after the Boeing 747 crashed, the National Transportation Safety Board has denied a petition that would see it reconsidering its findings, drawn up by people who believe the plane was the target of terrorism, missiles, or even a secret microwave weapon.

Some think the plane was destroyed by missiles

The FBI and the NTSB conducted lengthy investigations into the crash of TWA Flight 800 at the time of its detonation, eventually determining that the explosion was likely caused by the ignition of fuel in the plane's center wing fuel tank. But circumstantial evidence, interviews with accident investigators, and apparent discrepancies in the findings of both agencies have stoked conspiracy theories about the flight's fate for years. Some have suggested the plane was blown out of the sky by three missiles, while others say the explosion was caused by a terrorist bomb on board the plane. A more outlandish hypothesis suggests Flight 800 was accidentally targeted by a microwave weapon operated by the US Navy.

A documentary that looked closely at these alternate theories aired on US TV last year. TWA Flight 800 used three "smoking guns" to question the NTSB and FBI's official stances on the crash, but failed to adequately justify some of the alternate theories it raised. There was some hope that the petition may lend these hypotheses some legitimacy, but the NTSB's decision means that for now at least, the conspiracy theories around TWA Flight 800 will remain theories.