Lockerbie: 32 years on and still raising questions

Memorial at Lockerbie Cemetery
Memorial at Lockerbie Cemetery

32 years today at 19:02 local time Pan Am Boeing 747 crashed into the small Scottish borders town of Lockerbie killing 270 people. This was no accident though and even today questions are still being asked about who really brought down Flight 103.

The aircraft, Boeing 747-100 N739PA “Clipper Maid of the Seas” departed London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR/EGLL )at 18:35L for its transatlantic flight to New York’s JFK airport (JFK/KJFK).

As it climbed out across England it reached its cruising altitude of 31,000ft just south of the Scottish border.

The last contact with the aircraft was on the radar at 19:02L where it showed at FL310 (31,000ft) on a heading 316°(m). It was at this time when a bomb exploded in the cargo hold blowing a 20″ hole in the front left of the aircraft fuselage.

Due to the explosion happening in a pressurised environment the effects of the bomb were enhanced and just 8 seconds after the explosion the aircraft was in a flying debris field over a mile wide.

Pan Am 103 Cockpit
Pan Am 103 Cockpit

The aircraft itself broke into four main sections. the nose and forward cabin of the aircraft sheared off and remained largely intact until it hit the ground Tundergarth Hill just outside the town of Lockerbie.

The tail section broke off and disintegrated and caused what was known as the southern wreckage trail. The section between the tail and wing box cause the northern weckage trail. These stretched almost to the east coast of England.

The central wingbox section and fuselage was the deadliest for the town of Lockerbie. The fuselage to the rear wingbox containing three of the main landing gear units landed on houses in Rosebank Crescent causingmassive damage.

The wingbox and wings, containing most of the aircraft’s fuel, landed on Sherwood Crescent. On impact, it exploded vaporising houses in a large impact crater and killing 11 people.

All 259 people onboard the aircraft were killed as well as the 11 lockerbie residents.

Sherwood Cresent
Sherwood Cresent

More Questions than Answers

Many people suspected that the atrocity was carried out by Iran in a revenge attack for the shooting down of an Iranian airliner early in the same year but after years of investigation charges were laid against two Libyan men who were members of Libyan Intelligence.

The trial of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi and Lamin Khalifah Fhimah began 2000 with both men protesting their innocence.

Fhimah was acquitted in 2001 but al-Megrahi was found guilty of the murder of 270 people and sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 27 years.

The Bomb Damage reconstructed by the AAIB
The Bomb Damage reconstructed by the AAIB

In the period following his conviction al-Megrahi continued to claim he was innocent and a series of independent investigations raised serious questions over the safety of the conviction and even the evidence used to convict him.

In 2007 Information obtained for review made by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) saw the matter referred to the high court after it discovered serious issues with the safety of the conviction including withheld evidence.

Al-Megrahi was released in 2009 on compassionate ground after he had been diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer. As a result, his 2nd appeal was withdrawn.

He died in 2012.

Appeal by al-Megrahi Family

The SCCRC has now said that the al-Megrahi family may launch a posthumous appeal based on the evidence in its report which showed that a miscarriage of justice may have occurred.

Al-Megrahi has also had the backing and support of many of the families of the victims of Pan Am 103, particularly Dr Jim Swire whose daughter Flora was onboard the plane.

A panel of five judges at Edinburgh’s High Court is currently considering the appeal and is expected to reveal its findings soon.

Broken passenger seats from Pan Am 103
Broken passenger seats from Pan Am 103

If they rule that a miscarriage of justice did occur it could lead to some very awkward questions, particularly for the likes of former FBI Director Robert Mueller, who masterminded the case against Libya.

The Human Factor

Whatever the outcome of that appeal though, it is most poignant today to remember the 270 people who were murdered when terrorists blew up Pan Am 103.

Pan Am 103 Flight Crew

  • Avonye, Nichole Elizabeth, flight attendant, 44, French
  • Avritt, Jerry Don, flight engineer, 46, American
  • Berti, Noelle Lydie, flight attendant, 40, American
  • Engstrom, Siv Ulla, flight attendant, 51, Swedish
  • Franklin, Stacie Denise, flight attendant, 20, American
  • Garrett, Paul Isaac, flight attendant, 41, American
  • Kuehne, Elke Etha, flight attendant, 43, German
  • Larracoechea, Maria Nieves, flight attendant, 39, Spanish
  • MacQuarrie, James Bruce, captain, 55, American
  • McAlolooy, Lilibeth Tobila, flight attendant, 27, American
  • Murphy, Mary Geraldine, purser, 51, British
  • Reina, Jocelyn, flight attendant, 26, American
  • Royal, Myra Josephine, flight attendant, 30, American
  • Skabo, Irja Syhnove, flight attendant, 38, American
  • Velimirovich, Milutin, chief purser, 35, American
  • Wagner, Raymond Ronald, first officer, 52, American
Flora Swire, daughter of Dr Jim Swire, was killed onboard Pan Am 103
Flora Swire, daughter of Dr Jim Swire, was killed onboard Pan Am 103

Pan Am 103 Passengers

  • Ahern, John Michael Gerard, bond broker, 26, American
  • Aicher, Sarah Margaret, playwright, 29, American
  • Akerstrom, John David, 34, American
  • Alexander, Ronald Ely, businessman, 46, Swiss
  • Ammerman, Thomas Joseph, marketing manager, 36, American
  • Apfelbaum, Martin Lewis, stamp dealer, 59, American
  • Asrelsky, Rachel Marie, student, 21, American
  • Atkinson, William Garretson III, engineer, 33, American
  • Atkinson, Judith Ellen, art historian and consultant, 37, American
  • Bacciochi, Clare Louise, hair stylist, 19, British
  • Bainbridge, Harry Michael, attorney, 34, American
  • Barclay, Stuart Murray, businessman, 29, Canadian
  • Bell, Jean Mary, 44, British
  • Benello, Julian MacBain, student, 25, American
  • Bennett, Lawrence Ray, pharmaceutical chemist, 41, American
  • Bergstrom, Philip Vernon, military, 22, American
  • Berkley, Alistair David, professor of law, 29, British
  • Bernstein, Michael Stuart, lawyer, 36, American
  • Berrell, Steven Russell, student, 20, American
  • Bhatia, Surinder Mohan, businessman, 51, American
  • Bissett, Kenneth John, student, 21, American
  • Boatman-Fuller, Diane Anne, playwright, 35, American
  • Boland, Stephen John, student, 20, American
  • Bouckley, Glen John, sales, 27, British
  • Bouckley, Paula Marie, sales, 29, American
  • Boulanger, Nicole Elise, student, 21, American
  • Boyer, Francis, 43, French
  • Bright, Nicholas, businessman, 32, American
  • Browner, Daniel Solomon, 23, Israeli
  • Brunner, Colleen Renee, student, 20, American
  • Burman, Timothy Guy, banker, 24, British
  • Buser, Michael Warren, advertising executive, 34, American
  • Buser, Warren Max, civil engineer, 62, American
  • Butler, Steven Lee, teacher, 35, American
  • Cadman, William Martin, musician, 32, British
  • Caffarone, Fabiana, 28, British
  • Caffarone, Hernan, 28, Argentinean
  • Canady, Valerie, auditor, 25, American
  • Capasso, Gregory, student, 21, American
  • Cardwell, Timothy Michael, student, 21, American
  • Carlsson, Bernt Wilmar, diplomat, 50, Swedish
  • Cawley, Richard Anthony, businessman, 43, American
  • Ciulla, Frank, banker, 45, American
  • Cohen, Theodora Eugenia, student, 20, American
  • Coker, Eric Michael, student, 20, American
  • Coker, Jason Michael, student, 20, American
  • Colasanti, Gary Leonard, student, 20, American
  • Concannon, Bridget, 53, Irish
  • Concannon, Sean, 16, British
  • Concannon, Thomas, 51, Irish
  • Corner, Tracey Jane, student, 17, British
  • Cory, Scott, student, 20, American
  • Coursey, Willis Larry, military, 40, American
  • Coyle, Patricia Mary, student, 20, American
  • Cummock, John Binning, marketing director, 38, American
  • Curry, Joseph Patrick, military, 31, American
  • Daniels, William, Alan, research chemist, 40, American
  • Dater, Gretchen Joyce, student, 20, American
  • Davis, Shannon, student, 19, American
  • Della-Ripa, Gabriel, Pan Am Airlines employee, 46, American
  • DiMauro, Joyce Christine, marketing director, 32, American
  • DiNardo, Gianfranca, hotel worker, 26, Italian
  • Dix, Peter Thomas Stanley, 35, Irish
  • Dixit, Om, college professor, 54, Indian
  • Dixit, Shanti, 54, American
  • Dornstein, David Scott, student, 25, American
  • Doyle, Michael Joseph, accountant, 30, American
  • Eggleston, Edgar Howard III, military, 24, American
  • Ergin, Turhan, student, 22, American
  • Fisher, Charles Thomas IV, banker, 34, American
  • Flick, Clayton Lee, businessman, 25, British
  • Flynn, John Patrick, student, 21, American
  • Fondiler, Arthur, attorney, 33, American
  • Fortune, Robert Gerard, insurance executive, 40, American
  • Freeman, Paul Matthew Stephen, 25, Canadian
  • Fuller, James Ralph, corporate vice president, 50, American
  • Gabor, Ibolya Robertine, retired, 79, Hungarian,
  • Gallagher, Amy Beth, student, 22, Canadian.
  • Gannon, Matthew Kevin, foreign service officer, 34, American
  • Garczynski, Kenneth Raymond, industrial engineer, 37, American
  • Gibson, Kenneth James, military, 20, American
  • Giebler, William David, bond broker, 29, American
  • Gordon, Olive Leonora, 25, British
  • Gordon-Gorgacz, Linda Susan, 39, American
  • Gorgacz, Anne Madelene, retired, 76, American
  • Gorgacz, Loretta Anne, 47, American
  • Gould, David, college professor, 45, American
  • Guevorgian, Andre Nikolai, businessman, 32, American
  • Hall, Nicola Jane, 23, South African
  • Halsch, Lorraine Frances, special education teacher, 31, American
  • Hartunian, Lynne Carol, student, 21, American
  • Hawkins, Anthony Lacey, businessman, 57, British
  • Herbert, Pamela Elaine, student, 19, American
  • Hilbert, Rodney Peter, control systems engineer, 40, American
  • Hill, Alfred, researcher, 29, German
  • Hollister, Katherine Augusta, student, 20, American
  • Hudson, Josephine Lisa, nurse, 22, British
  • Hudson, Melina Kristina, student, 16, American
  • Hudson, Sophie Ailette Miriam, 26, French
  • Hunt, Karen Lee, student, 20, American
  • Hurst, Roger Elwood, marketing manager, 38, American
  • Ivell, Elizabeth Sophie, dog handler, 19, British
  • Jaafar, Khalid Nazir, student, 20, American
  • Jeck, Robert van Houten, 57, American
  • Jeffreys, Paul Avron, musician, 36, British
  • Jeffreys, Rachel, advertising executive, 23 British
  • Jermyn, Kathleen Mary, student, 20, American
  • Johnson, Beth Ann, student, 21, American
  • Johnson, Mary Alice Lincoln, student, 25, American
  • Johnson, Timothy Baron, student, 21, American
  • Jones, Christopher Andrew, student, 20, American
  • Kelly, Julianne Frances, student, 20, American
  • Kingham, Jay Joseph, pharmaceuticals executive, 44, American
  • Klein, Patricia Ann, social worker, 35, American
  • Kosmowski, Gregory, marketing executive, 40, American
  • Kulukundis, Minas Christopher, ship brokerage director, 38, British
  • LaRiviere, Ronald Albert, 33, American
  • Leckburg, Robert Milton, engineer, 30, American
  • Leyrer, William Chase, businessman, 46, American
  • Lincoln, Wendy Anne, student, 23, American
  • Lowenstein, Alexander Silas, student, 21, American
  • Ludlow, Lloyd David, military, 41, American
  • Lurbke, Maria Theresia, 25, German
  • Mack, William Edward, puppeteer, 30, American
  • Malicote, Douglas Eugene, military, 22, American
  • Malicote, Wendy Gay, 21, American
  • Marek, Elizabeth Lillian, actress and peace activist, 30, American
  • Marengo, Louis Anthony, marketing director, 33, American
  • Martin, Noel George, 27, Jamaican
  • Maslowski, Diane Marie, currency trader, 30, American
  • McAllister, William John, golfer, 26, British
  • McCarthy, Daniel Emmet, banker, 31, American
  • McCollum, Robert Eugene, university professor, 61, American
  • McKee, Charles Dennis, military, 40, American
  • McLaughlin, Bernard Joseph, marketing manager, 30, American
  • Melber, Jane Susan, musician and teacher, 27, British
  • Merrill, John, seaman, 35, British
  • Miazga, Suzanne Marie, student, 22, American
  • Miller, Joseph Kenneth, accounting firm executive, 56, American
  • Mitchell, Jewel Courtney, military, 32, American
  • Monetti, Richard Paul, student, 20, American
  • Morgan, Jane Ann, attorney, 37, American
  • Morson, Eva Ingeborg, 48, American
  • Mosey, Helga Rachael, student, 19, British
  • Mulroy, Ingrid Elizabeth, 25, Swedish
  • Mulroy, John, journalist, 59, American
  • Mulroy, Sean Kevin, 25, American
  • Noonan, Karen Elizabeth, student, 20, American
  • O’Connor, Daniel Emmett, diplomat, 31
  • O’Neil, Mary Denice, student, 21, American
  • Otenasek, Anne Lindsey, student, 21, American
  • Owen, Bryony Elise, 1, British
  • Owen, Gwyneth Yvonne Margaret, student, 29, British
  • Owens, Laura Abigail, 8, American
  • Owens, Martha, 44, American
  • Owens, Robert Plack, 45, American
  • Owens, Sarah Rebecca, 14, American
  • Pagnucco, Robert Italo, lawyer, 51, American
  • Papadopoulos, Christos Michael, businessman, 45, American
  • Peirce, Peter Raymond, architect and student, 40, American
  • Pescatore, Michael, businessman, 33, American
  • Philipps, Sarah Susannah Buchanan, student, 20, American
  • Phillips, Frederick Sandford, student, 27, American
  • Pitt, James Andrew Campbell, student, 24, American
  • Platt, David, architect, 33, American
  • Porter, Walter Leonard, musician, 35, American
  • Posen, Pamela Lynn, student, 20, American
  • Pugh, William, businessman, 56, American
  • Quiguyan, Crisostomo Estrella, hotel cashier, 43, Filipino
  • Ramses, Rajesh Tarsis Priskel, computer operator, 35, British
  • Rattan, Anmol, 2, American
  • Rattan, Garima, computer programmer, 29, American
  • Rattan, Suruchi, three, American
  • Reeves, Anita Lynn, 24, American
  • Rein, Mark Alan, businessman, 44, American
  • Rencevicz, Diane Marie, student, 21, American
  • Rogers, Louise Ann, student, 20, American
  • Roller, Edina, 5, Hungarian
  • Roller, Janos Gabor, 29, Hungarian
  • Roller, Zsuzsana, 27, Hungarian
  • Root, Hanne Maria, management consultant, 26, Canadian
  • Rosen, Saul Mark, businessman, 35, American
  • Rosenthal, Andrea Victoria, student, 22, American
  • Rosenthal, Daniel Peter, student, 20, American
  • Rubin, Arnaud David, engineer, 28, Belgian
  • Saraceni, Elyse Jeanne, student, 20, American
  • Saunders, Scott Christopher, student, 21, American
  • Saunders, Theresa Elizabeth Jane, marketing, 28, British
  • Schauble, Johannes Otto, 41, Germany
  • Schlageter, Robert Thomas, student, 20, American
  • Schultz, Thomas Britton, student, 20, American
  • Scott, Sally Elizabeth, chef, 22, British
  • Shapiro, Amy Elizabeth, student, 21, American
  • Shastri, Mridula, 24, Indian
  • Sheanshang, Joan, 46, American
  • Sigal, Irving Stanley, a research biologist
  • Simpson, Martin Bernard Christopher, financier, 52, American
  • Smith, Cynthia Joan, student, 21, American
  • Smith, Ingrid Anita, chiropodist, 31, British
  • Smith, James Alvin, American
  • Smith, Mary Edna, military, 34, American
  • Stevenson, Geraldine Anne, 37, British
  • Stevenson, Hannah Louise, 10, British
  • Stevenson, John Charles, 38, British
  • Stevenson, Rachael, 8, British
  • Stinnett, Charlotte Ann, 36, American
  • Stinnett, Michael Gary, military, 26, American
  • Stinnett, Stacey Leanne, nine, American
  • Stow, James Ralph, businessman, 49, American
  • Stratis, Elia G., accountant, 43, American
  • Swan, Anthony Selwyn, 29, Trinidadian
  • Swire, Flora MacDonald Margaret, medical student & researcher, 24, British
  • Tager, Marc Alex, 22, British
  • Tanaka, Hidekazu, 26, Japanese
  • Teran, Andrew Alexander, student, 20, Bolivian
  • Thomas, Arva Anthony, student, 17, American
  • Thomas, Jonathan Ryan, two months, American
  • Thomas, Lawanda, military, 21, American
  • Tobin, Mark Lawrence, student, 21, American
  • Trimmer-Smith, David William, publishing executive, 51, American
  • Tsairis, Alexia Kathryn, student, 20, American
  • Valentino, Barry Joseph, exhibit designer, 28
  • Van-Tienhoven, Thomas Floro, 45, Argentinean
  • Vejdany, Asaad Eidi, 46, American
  • Vrenios, Nicholas Andreas, student, 20, American
  • Vulcu, Peter, stockbroker and student, 21, American
  • Waido, Janina Jozefa, 61, American
  • Walker, Thomas Edwin, electronics specialist, 47, American
  • Weedon, Kesha, student, 20, American
  • Weston, Jerome Lee, engineer, 45, American
  • White, Jonathan, accountant, 33, California, American
  • Williams, Bonnie Leigh, military, 21, American
  • Williams, Brittany Leigh, two months, American
  • Williams, Eric Jon, military, 24, American
  • Williams, George Waterson, military, 24, American
  • Williams, Stephanie Leigh, 1, American
  • Wolfe, Miriam Luby, student, 20, American
  • Woods, Chelsea Marie, 10 months, American
  • Woods, Dedera Lynn, air force sergeant, 27, American
  • Woods, Joe Nathan, civilian-military worker, 28, American
  • Woods, Joe Nathan, Jr, 2, American
  • Wright, Andrew Christopher Gillies, site agent, 24, British
  • Zwynenburg, Mark James, investment banker, 29, American

Lockerbie Residents

  • Flannigan, Kathleen Mary, 41, 16 Sherwood Crescent
  • Flannigan, Thomas Brown, 44, 16 Sherwood Crescent
  • Flannigan, Joanne, 10, 16 Sherwood Crescent
  • Henry, Dora Henrietta, 56, 13 Sherwood Crescent
  • Henry, Maurice Peter, 63, 13 Sherwood Crescent
  • Lancaster, Mary, 81, 11 Sherwood Crescent
  • Murray, Jean Aitkin, 82, 14 Sherwood Crescent
  • Somerville, John, 40, 15 Sherwood Crescent
  • Somerville, Rosaleen, 40, 15 Sherwood Crescent
  • Somerville, Paul, 13, 15 Sherwood Crescent
  • Somerville, Lyndsey Ann, 10, 15 Sherwood Crescent
About Nick Harding 1345 Articles
Nick is the senior reporter and editor at UK Aviation News as well as working freelance elsewhere. He has his finger firmly on the pulse on Aviation, not only in the UK but worldwide. Nick has been asked to speak in a professional capacity on LBC, Heart and other broadcast networks.