Pan Am 103 crashed over Lockerbie on December 21, 1988.
November 1, 2005. For the latest developments, go the Home Page.
I have been working on the Pan Am 103 investigation since 1995 and I, and many other investigators, reporters and a few politicians, am still not satisfied with the criminal investigation into Lockerbie and we are convinced there has been a miscarriage of justice. Abdelbaset al Megrahi was accused of bombing Pan Am 103 and is now incarcerated in Barlinnie Jail, Scotland. It is the intention of this webpage to direct the reader to the vast resources of information pertaining to the Lockerbie investigation.
In this section of the website we are going to discuss the various problems with the investigation of this crash. These are the opinions of the author. Once you have read the book, "Plane Truth - an Investigator's Story", you can use the following photos, video clips and audio clips to better understand why the author decided to conduct a private investigation. Things just did not add up -- did not make technical or political sense.
My investigation began in earnest after the crash of TWA 800. This disaster appeared to have similar aircraft break-up characteristics to Pan Am 103. That is to say that, after each crash, the nose of the airplane, known as Section 41, was found closest to the departure point in both cases.
Let us review some of the significant evidence which contradicts the findings of the Scottish court.
1. January 19, 2005 - On this day, the Honourable Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow,Lab), Father of the House of Commons, spoke in Westminster Hall on the subject "The foreign policy aspects of the Lockerbie case". He has been a strong advocate for an independent inquiry into the Lockerbie disaster and during the debate he stressed certain important aspects of the case which he considered had not been satisfactorily investigated by the Scottish Court. For a detailed transcript of this debate, please visit
2. February 1, 2004. I have just learnt that Mr. Peter Biddulph and Dr.Jim Swire are withholding publication of their new book pending certain developments in the investigation of the Pan Am 103 disaster. Their book will be entitled "Lockerbie ... In search of the truth". I have been authorized by them to present on my website the following questions about the evidence against Abdelbaset al-Megrahi and the Libyan government. These questions need to be answered at an independent inquiry.
"WHY did the court accept conflicting and uncertain identification evidence from
Maltese shopkeeper Tony Gauci when it knew Gauci would receive $4m reward from
the USA if Al-Megrahi was convicted?
This is the renowned photograph of the ill-fated Pan Am 103 Boeing 747-100 that crashed over the town of Lockerbie, Scotland on December 21, 1988. This photograph is of the remains of the Boeing 747-100's Section 41 that landed 4.5 miles from the main wreckage on Lockerbie, at a little Scottish village called Tundergarth. This part of the wreckage was the nearest to the Heathrow airport from where it had left. Why would the nose be the first piece to land if a bomb blew a hole in the fuselage in front part of the plane called Section 42, which is located behind Section 41? (Click any picture to enlarge)
This is another view of Section 41 laying in the Scottish fields and shows clearly where the break occurred. The Pan Am 103 Boeing 747-100 was one of the oldest planes in the world fleet. It was the sixteenth plane built by Boeing in Everett, Washington State, U.S.
Let us take a look at the way a Boeing 747 is constructed. The picture on the left shows where Section 42 is being joined to the main fuselage at the point where the wings are attached. Section 41 is shown in green and is the where the cockpit is located. Section 41 and 42 are assembled separately but have already been connected together in this picture. This assembly technique is normal in aircraft construction.
According to the official accident report a bomb was placed in a Toshiba cassette radio, in a Samsonite suitcase, in an aircraft container in the Section 42 cargo hold. Nobody questions where this explosion allegedly occurred. If this were the case, then why did the investigators, in an attempt to simulate this explosion, plant a bomb at the back end of an old Boeing 747-100 when the alleged bomb was in the front part of the plane in Section 42? Why not place the test bomb in the same place where the bomb allegedly went off? Please note from this picture how the skin of the plane ruptures. Plane skins are relatively thin and strong by design, but if one part breaks then the entire structure will be weakened. However, what would the simulation have revealed had the explosive been in a Toshiba radio wrapped in clothing in a suitcase, in an aircraft container in the Section 42 cargo hold?
You might check out this video clip of the entire explosive test. On this BBC webpage you will see a video report by Leslie Anderson. The actual video clip can be downloaded from this website, but be warned; it's a large file and it may be quicker to download from the BBC server. This BBC file is sometimes unavailable -- I hope they will put it back in the archives. http://news6.thdo.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/newsd%5F772000/772784.stm
Here you will see the details of what happens when the bomb goes off at the back of the plane and listen to what the reporter has to say. It does not appear to occur to Mr. Anderson that the test bomb is in the wrong place. According to the official reports, a 2-3 foot hole was first blown out on the port side of Pan Am 103. This has happened more than once on similar planes. In this simulation, the back end of the plane was demolished! It did however, appear very spectacular and was played on world-wide TV programs ad nauseum. Note that the plane is left standing on the main wheels and the front steering wheel; watch what happens to the wing tip -- it wobbles but stays put. Why wasn't the bomb placed up front to accurately simulate what the investigators claim actually happened?You can download this same file from this website. Recordings\Pan_Am_Bomb_Test_1.mpg
You can see from this picture where the alleged explosion occurred; up front in Section 42; note the windows in the upper deck. The blast hole in this photograph is actually 17 feet across; the hole was enlarged after the initial blast probably caused by the force of the oncoming air at 550 miles per hour. The information we have obtained shows that Pan Am 103 was found to have a number of serious metal fatigue fractures, some of which were repaired on September 24, 1987 at a plant in Wichita, Kansas. For details, click the following hyperlink. fatigue_details.htm
4. In 1989, I met a businessman, Franck Curtin, who had been authorized by Boeing to conduct repairs to Section 41 of the Boeing 747-100's. Mr. Curtin suggested that there were some serious problems with metal fatigue on these airplanes. Double click the following hyperlink to listen to a conversation wherein he explains the problem. Recordings\curtin.wav Details of Franck Curtin's work can be reviewed on this webpage at Fatigue Details
On August 20, 2003, I received the following important email letter from a European aircraft structure specialist whose name I have agreed not to post on this website. Included, following the email letter, are three very important photos of Section 41 fatigue cracks that occurred on a Boeing 747-100 aircraft.
For further details of the fatigue problem, click the "Fatigue Details" button above.
To view the following photos in full size, please double click the images.
Photo # 2
5. There are two separate theories about how the nose of Pan Am 103 crashed 4-1/2 miles closer to the departure point than the rest of the debris that landed over the town of Lockerbie, Scotland. The question becomes, "Did the nose of the airplane break off, causing a bomb to explode? Or did a bomb explode on the airplane which caused the nose to separate from the main fuselage?" Following is a discussion of these two cases.
(a) The nose of the airplane breaks off. Soon after the crash of Pan Am 103, there was considerable evidence which pointed to a group in Germany known as The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The German police raided a home in Neuss, Germany, and arrested a number of Palestinians. In their possession were 4 Toshiba BomBeat radio cassette 453s. A 5th radio had been purchased but was missing! These radios were being equipped with an explosive device which was to be triggered by a barometric switch. In my opinion the person placing the bomb on Pan Am 103 would have decided to have the plane crash over the Atlantic Ocean during descent towards Kennedy Airport, New York - probably at about 5,000 feet. However, in the Lockerbie case, had Section 41 broken away from the main fuselage, the oncoming air could easily have significantly increased the pressure on the open fuselage. This increased pressure could have caused the barometric bomb to explode. All of this would have happened in a split second. This scenario was given significant importance in the news media. In fact, the U.S. TV program, "60 minutes" ran a complete analysis of what had allegedly happened at Lockerbie, based upon this scenario. Details of this can be read at the following hyperlink. www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/5260/60minutes
(b) The IED explodes and then the nose separates. In 1991, a fragment of a bomb timer was found in the Pan Am 103 debris field, lodged in a luggage container. At a later date, another fragment of a radio circuit board was discovered in a Scottish forest. The fragment found in the forest had the number 106 printed on the circuit board. This was traced to a Toshiba RT-SF16 'BomBeat' radio cassette. (Double click the photo to enlarge).
The following is a description of what I believe happened when the IED exploded. What I am now going to discuss actually happened in a split second. We know that the IED was approximately 12 cm. from the side of the plane. When the IED went off, it blew a large hole in the side of the plane and at the same time it presumably would have vapourized most of the Toshiba radio, and in the intense heat our small fragment presumably became stuck to a fragment of clothing. Now imagine that this small fragment, under the intense reaction of the IED, would be forced out of the plane, and it would also be assisted by the fact that the air within the body of the plane was being forced through this hole in Section 42 out into the rarified air at 31,000 ft. It has been some time since I did any vector analysis but I am sure there are qualified mathematicians at the University in Edinburgh who could perform these calculations. Just before the hole was made in the side of the plane, the air was rushing past this point at approximately 600 mph. The plane was traveling at 550 mph, true air speed. It is a well known fact that air speeds up as it passes over the wide body of an airplane.
Immediately after the hole is made in the side of the plane, this fragment would exit the hole at high speed, hit the oncoming air and then start its descent to earth. In the calculations of what happened during this time, one would have to consider the momentum of this small fragment, which is mass x velocity, and then calculate its rate of descent, knowing that it would be dropping at an acceleration of 32 ft. per second, squared. The fact that the wind that night was strong will make the analysis easier as it will probably be rather uniform from 33,000 ft. to close to the ground. Since this fragment was attached to a piece of cloth, it is quite possible that it would reach a terminal velocity rather than continue to accelerate towards the ground. These types of calculations are well known to mathmeticians.
In the next second or so after the initial event, we know that Section 41 separated from Section 42 as it landed in Tundergarth, whereas the main part of the remainder of the debris landed on Lockerbie, some 4-1/2 miles away.
Since the fragment exited the plane in the initial event and because of the fact that the plane was moving at 550 mph, one should expect the fragment to be closer to the departure point - Heathrow - than Section 41. Depending on the direction and strength of the wind it should be possible to determine how close to Section 41 the fragment should have been. Interestingly enough, if the wind was from the NW, the fragment should be even closer to the departure point than Section 41 as Section 41 would have been less influenced by the wind in its fall.
Once I have obtained more details about the location of the fragments, I believe it will be possible to write a convincing paper to demonstrate whether or not the fragment could possibly have been where it was found. I believe there is much more we can determine about where the IED was placed, the power of the IED, and when it was put on the plane.
Using a sophisticated computer model which was developed by NASA, it is now possible to model the break-up of an aircraft in flight by analyzing the debris field. The following describes two recent examples of this technique:
On February 25, 2003, PBS "NOVA" aired a documentary about a plane crash in Chile that had occurred 53 years ago. The plane had been lost and, despite an enormous effort, the wreckage was never found until 1998. The important point as far as we are concerned is that the accident investigators located the various debris parts and were able to map their GPS location. The chief investigator said that knowing the distribution and physical state of the debris was the most important information for determining the cause of the crash.
On February 26, 2003 an accident investigator on the "Columbia" shuttle disaster stated that he believed they could determine the cause of the break-up of Columbia from the distribution of the debris.
Again, I strongly believe that the IED location on Pan Am 103, the size of the IED, the type of IED, and when it would have been placed on the plane, can all be determined by the examination and analysis of the debris field.
6. General Discussion.
There have been some very serious questions about the MEBO MST13 timer used to trigger the explosion on Pan Am 103. You can read my conclusions on page 123/4 of my book. I go into great detail to explain why the MEBO timer was not used. Or, if it had been employed, the guy setting it was a total dummy. Dummies do not make these kind of plans!
This is what is written on page 123/4 of my book:
"Let us assume that the Libyans had been given explicit instructions; certainly, those who implement these scenarios are not usually the same people who design the game plan. The planners must have known that the Malta Air Flight 180 would leave Valletta airport at 10:15 AM (9:15 AM GMT) and that Pan Am 103 was due to leave Heathrow at 6:00 PM the same day, December 21, 1988. That was a time span of 8 hours and 45 minutes. The trip across the British Isles would be approximately 45 minutes. Hence, the plane could be expected to be over land for 9 hours and 30 minutes. The trip across the Atlantic to New York was probably five hours so the best time to detonate a bomb in the plane would be between 7:00 PM and Midnight GMT, while the plane was over water. Allowing for a possible one hour delay, a experienced bomber would set the timer to go off between 9:00 PM and 11:00 PM. The best time would have been 10:15 PM GMT, exactly 12 hours after the suitcase left Valletta. To do the job right, the window of opportunity was at least two hours -- a fairly simple analysis for the bomber. Why then did the explosion occur at 7:03 PM, only nine hours and 33 minutes into the long journey? That is well outside the margin of error."
This is my explanation of events; it is not new information but just explained in detail. The bomber would also have to set the timer in motion before the Malta flight left Valletta. At what point in time would he set the timer in motion and get the suitcase on the plane? Very tricky. So much easier to plant the suitcase for boarding in Frankfurt or better still London - a scenario suggested by Dr. Swire.
In a 1990 interview, Christopher Protheroe, a senior air accident inspector with the British AAIB, told the court that an error of calculation had been made in the application of certain "mach stem formulae". Upon recalculation, it was determined that the IED had been only 12 inches from the side of the plane and not 25 inches as initially determined. This would place the bomb outside the container. He repeated this analysis at the Lockerbie trial and was apparently ignored. A commentary on this subject can be seen on the following website. http://www.wsws.org/articles/2000/may2000/lock-m30.html.
In my book you will read of many cases where actual bombs had exploded on Boeing 747-100's. In all these cases, the damage was limited to a relatively small hole in the side of the plane. All these planes landed safely, although, regrettably, there were some fatalities. In fact, the Boeing 747 has been specifically designed to take the impact of a bomb that had been loaded aboard in a suitcase. The design technique is called "load path analysis".
Here is an example of a United Airlines Boeing 747 which has lost a huge part of Section 42, exposing both the upper and lower decks in the first class section while in flight. The accident occurred over Honolulu in February 1989; sixteen people were lost - sucked out of the plane. However, the plane landed. It was claimed that corrosion in Section 41 had caused the problem. Now consider the relatively minor damage to Pan Am 103 initially caused by the alleged blast making a 2-3 foot hole in this same section; or even after it had opened up to 17 feet. Why didn't Pan Am 103 land safely? Its gaping hole was much smaller. On the United flight, the "load path stresses" were distributed to other parts of the plane. It worked according to the design (Click the photograph to enlarge.)
(Another amazing example will be forthcoming when I find the photo. It is also on the Internet some place. An El Al plane from Athens to Tel Aviv. It had about a 2-4 foot hole in Section 42 and landed --- the plane was repaired and flew again)
On February 2, 2000, the German GEO magazine did an article in German on the Lockerbie situation. I was amazed when I saw the cover of this magazine. There is a painting by a German artist called, Carl W. Roehrig, which he has created, I believe, from an analysis of where the various pieces of Pan Am 103 landed. It is creative and ingenious. So for the curious you can find it at:- www.geo.de/magazin/geo/2000/02.html This painting is for sale for approximately U.S. $4,200. If someone would like to purchase the painting and donate it to a potential museum, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I am hoping to re-publish my book in the near future, using the front and back cover pages seen here. (Pages designed by Ariane Lapointe, Montreal)
Double click the images to see it full size.
This painting of Pan Am 103, the split second it broke up, is the best rendition of what I believe actually happened. This painting clearly demonstrates how Section 41 separated from Section 42 and the top part of Section 42 was sent screaming over the top of the fuselage. Notice that the break is where Section 41 joins Section 42.
The top half of Section 42 on the Boeing 747-100 is very similar to the part that came off the Aloha 243 Boeing 737 over Maui. Fortunately this plane landed with the loss of only one person. Again Boeing had designed this aircraft such that it can take a serious cabin skin loss and survive. When this plane landed, the front of the nose was three feet lower than normal.
7. Debris storage site for Pan Am 103
For some unknown reason, Section 41 was stored at Roger Windley's junkyard in Tattershall, Lincolnshire, U.K. I tried to visit the site to obtain samples of the metal for analysis and was refused. The main fuselage and wings were all stored at Farnborough, Surrey, U.K. where an attempt was made to reconstruct the plane in order to analyze what had happened when the IED exploded.
8. Politics. There is no doubt that international politics have played a huge role in the Pan Am 103 investigation. However, a discussion of these politics is beyond the scope of this webpage and the reader is directed to the most comprehensive website on this subject matter, www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/5260. Furthermore, the reader can review one of the most comprehensive books on the subject, "The Trail of the Octopus" by Lester B. Coleman. This is now available on the internet.
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