February 11, 2001
Ted Lopatkiewicz, of the NTSB, made the following statement to me about the number, and quality, and acquisition dates, of any and all Flight 587 videotapes:
"There are two videos. The first was taken by someone at JFK and shows the accident airplane rolling down the runway and taking off. Then the camera turns away and when it returns, all you see is smoke rising in the distance. The second is a series of surveillance cameras from MTABT. There are 3 feeds of some interest. Two are from toll booths and you can see the blurred, grainy image of the plane in the distance. The third is from a pole in a parking lot and I believe all you see is the immediate aftermath of the impact with the ground, the smoke rising from the ground. I would not call the toll booth views "specks" because, though it is blurry, it appears to be the outline of an aircraft. But since it is a subjective description, maybe other people would call it a speck. Once we release these images, everyone can judge for themselves whether "speck" was the right word to use. In any case, our investigators are hopeful they will provide us some use."
Ted also clarified that the NTSB has had both these videos in their possession since the week of the crash.
This response from the NTSB is very much in conflict with the TIME magazine article dated January 27th. TIME has not returned my phone calls, or, as far as I can tell, offered a public explanation or correction for the remarkable claims they made.
The NTSB will not be releasing images from these tapes, or the tapes themselves, prior to the docket being opened.