A row of metal seats found washed up on America’s eastern shoreline are at the centre of a riddle playing out online.
Matthew Jacob, who found the rusted flotsam as he walked along the coast in New Jersey, believes it came from an airliner.
In a TikTok post that has attracted more than a million views to date, he says: ‘It looks like plane seats washed up.’
Jacob, an actor, told People magazine: ‘I wasn’t sure what it was.
‘I thought it was a tree branch at first. As I got closer, I realized that I was looking at seats. The closer I got they appeared to be plane seats.’
Speculation as to the source of the frame, which has shells attached, has abounded, with the video attracting 1.3million ‘likes’ to date.
One TikTok user raised the possibility that the seats found in Margate, on the Jersey Shore, could have come from TWA Flight 800, which crashed in 1996 with the loss of 230 lives.
The person wrote: ‘I was on flight TWA 800 and remember sitting there.’
However another viewer said: ‘Everyone is saying TWA flight 800 but I’m pretty sure it’s the TZB 900. I welded these very seats.’
Others, including people saying they are mechanics, speculated that the technical aspects of the fixture suggest it is not from an aircraft.
One commentator said: ‘I’m an aircraft mechanic, those are not aircraft seats. Mounting rails are completely different. (Seat to floor).’
Another TikToker summed up the leading theory, writing: ‘It’s from the subway cars used to make the artificial reef.’
Margate Police Chief Matthew Hankinson also cast doubt on the possibility that the seats had come from an aircraft.
He told NJ.com that the seats, which were found last week, ‘are far too heavy to come from anything like a plane’.
The police chief explained further: ‘The seats are stripped down to the metal with nothing left from cushions, seat belts or buckles that would indicate they came from a plane crash.’
Chief Hankinson added: ‘A detective did some further research and found that decommissioned railcar seats are typically stripped down to the metal parts and taken out to sea and dumped to help build artificial reefs.’
Chief Hankinson told the news outlet that recent storms could have knocked the seats free from a reef.
However the find nevertheless evoked haunting memories for some viewers of the TikTok post.
One commentator wrote: ‘I was one of the Boarding Ticket Agents for TWA flight 800. I can still remember some of the faces. It was like a nightmare.
‘I hadn’t thought about it for at least 20yrs. Several customers got there late and yelled at us for not boarding them.’
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