I heard three explosions that evening (the sun was still out, so that's why I don't call it "night"). The third may have been the plane hitting the water or hitting the bottom of the ocean, because my house shook from the bottom up. The first was just an explosion that sounded like thunder, or a propane gas explosion. The second, I felt the roof of my house shake a bit. The third was bottom-up shaking.
I called the police, but hung up before they answered, because I didn't know what to tell them. "Hello, 911 what is your emergency?"
"Umm... there were loud booms and my house shook."
"Did you see anything?"
"Can you tell where the sounds came from?"
"Uh, no... the sky, maybe? My pet birds thought it was thunder, but my neighbors dogs are lying in my front yard under a tree and they didn't move, so I guess it's not an earthquake."
I called my mom 40 miles to the west and asked her if she heard loud booms or if her house shook and she said no.
I turned on the Weather Channel to see the local radar but there were no storms. My mother called me about an hour later and told me to turn on the local news channel, a plane had crashed off shore. I immediately knew that's what I heard... that the plane had blown up and fallen into the water. First news reports said that a radar center in Nassau County confirmed that a small plane had hit the jetliner. They said that on the news for several hours before they suddenly stopped saying it.
The next day they showed an Air National Guardsman who was in a plane off Westhampton Beach say that he saw something go up and hit the plane and that the plane exploded after that. They took his video off the air, too.
Numerous regular, ordinary people without any kind of tin hat or axe to grind saw the explosion. They saw something go up and hit the plane. They had no reason to lie. They were just calling the news channels and newspapers and telling people what they saw. They all saw the same thing. Some were on their boats in the water, some were on the beach, some were in their backyards, some were at clubs and restaurants on the water. They weren't crazy people. They wanted to help the investigation. They saw a light -- like a pink or red flare -- go up in the sky and then there was an explosion.