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As noted by others, the entire episode seemed a bit implausible at the time. IN no small part because I do not believe there is another credible case of an explosion like this on a major jetliner in the last 3 decades. They do not just "blow-up". Outside of deliberate sabotage, or such as a missile, the failures are always mechanical.
As for doubts about folks recalling what they saw, there were numerous reports of a streak up from the horizon at that time. From normal folks, unrelated.
And lastly, we have another incident, in the same region, flying out of JFK, exactly two months after 9-11, that reeks of coincidence. American Airlines 587, Nov 12, 2011.
Nov 12, 2001:
Plane crashes in Rockaway, New York
Plane crashes in Rockaway, New York — History.com This Day in History — 11/12/2001
The explanation given never seemed plausible to me. In both cases I see a huge incentive for the government to make it sound as random accidents, rather than panic the public, illustrating what were severe weaknesses in our methods at the time. Assuming we were not told the truth, naturally.
As for twa 800, the show agrees with the investigations conclusion and showed how a short circuit in the wireing located in the center wing tank ignited the jet-a fuel vapors inside the nearly empty tank.
The show goes through the investigation to show how the conclusions were made.