The NTSB's X-File

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The NTSB says it's analyzing the composition of red smears found on the fuselage of a Cessna Caravan that crashed mysteriously in Alabama in 2002. The red marks have become the focus of urban legend-type speculation on the cause of the crash. Some think the Mid Atlantic Freight plane hit a drug runner, others say a military drone was to blame and the theories escalate to meteor strikes, aliens and beyond. The NTSB is, however, conducting a more down-to-earth examination of about 20 items in the wreckage that might have caused the mysterious red marks. The NTSB reopened the investigation earlier this year and has done a substantial reconstruction of the aircraft from the wreckage. It found 34 red "transfer marks" but it also noted that the marks "exhibited a random, smearing or rubbing pattern, rather than a unidirectional and/or penetrating pattern" that would indicate a collision. It also found the source of a mysterious piece of black debris imbedded in a wing that set the rumor mill abuzz. It came from an electrical dimmer light assembly on the aircraft.