Forensic Trivia: “Smithereens”
January 19, 2014
images (7)On Dec. 21, 1988, Pan American flight 103, originating in Frankfort, Germany landed at London’s Heathrow Airport, and after loading passengers and luggage, took off for New York’s JFK airport at 18:25 p.m. At approximately 19:02 p.m. air traffic control lost contact with it. A few seconds later the radar showed the plane’s blip on the screen fracture into five separate ones, trailing away from each other. The plane had exploded and the debris rained down on the Scottish town of Lockerbee.

243 passengers and 16 crew, dead, as well as 11 residents from Lockerbee.

This was one of the most famous plane crashes in history, both for the horror it was, the subsequent political implications, and the forensic investigation that ensued leading to the arrest and conviction of one of the terrorists involved.

The USA’s FBI, and the British equivalent of our NTSB, the Air Accidents Investigation Branch, laboriously collected every piece of wreckage from the plane, and pieced together the smithereens they found into a whole plane.