The can of paint modifier makes an additional appearance in the late Robert J. Serling's book, Loud & Clear. Serling's book was first written in 1970. I recently purchased a paperback copy of a revised edition. Nine pages of the book deal with United Flight 823. The pages that have to do with United Flight 823 are Page 346 through Page 355.
Serling writes that the cargo manifest was examined for clues that might help investigators determine the cause of the plane crash. The one item of the manifest that stood out, “as if it had been written in braille” was the can of paint modifier that has been previously discussed on this website.
The Civil Aeronautics Board Report mention of the can of flammable paint modifier on page 9 does not make mention of a cargo manifest.
Adding to the confusion, once again, is the following paragraph that has been previously documented on this site and is found on Page 12 of the CAB report: “The carbon deposits taken from both the free fall items and under floor wreckage at the crash site were identified as being the produce of incomplete combustion of saturated aliphatic hydrocarbons. Examples of this type of fuel are kerosene, gasoline, paraffin, hydraulic fluid, lighter fluid and naphtha. Of these examples, only kerosene, hydraulic fluid, and lighter fluid were known to be aboard the aircraft(Emphasis mine). The lighter fluid was not known to be aboard in sufficient quantity to produce the amount of fire experienced. Kerosene in the form of engine fuel and hydraulic fluid were aboard the aircraft in quantity.”
If the gallon can of paint modifier had been listed as being on board in the cargo manifest, why was it not mentioned in the CAB's official report as being known to have been on board?
Mr. Serling, two paragraphs after he writes of the can of paint modifier, quotes from Page 14 of the CAB report, “The combustible material and source of ignition that started the fire are not known. Although attempts to determine if any passenger had carried any hazardous material aboard the aircraft did not reveal this had occurred, the possibility cannot be ruled out. Such a material, either innocently or with malicious intent, may have been in the possession of a passenger”.
The fact that the paint modifier, according to Mr. Serling, was listed on the cargo manifest and was known to have existed, lessens the suspicion that the can had been brought on board by a passenger with malicious intent.
Still the question remains as to why a gallon can of a flammable “paint modifier” was on the aircraft in the first place.