It is early evening when PanAm flight 103 takes off from London's Heathrow airport, bound for New York. Not an hour into the journey, a homemade bomb, built around a radio-cassette recorder, explodes in the hold of the aircraft. This blows a hole in the fuselage, and the shockwave of the explosion disrupts the integrity of the aircraft. At 37,000 feet up, the Boeing 747 disintegrates, and the wreckage rains down on the small town of Lockerbie. The cockpit lands in a field near the A74 (Carlisle to Glasgow) road, but a large segment of the aircraft crashes into a small housing estate on the outskirts of Lockerbie. Houses are destroyed or set on fire. All passengers and crew on flight 103 are killed, although some were thought to have been alive as fell to the ground. Eleven townspeople were killed as well. Later, the evening became increasingly unreal, as newscrews descended on Lockerbie, reporting events - with the townspeople watching the 9 o'clock news on television to learn what had happened to their small town.
It was later determined that a bomb had been placed on the aircraft by Libyan security agents, acting on behalf of Col Ghadaffi. More than a decade later, Libya yielded two security agents for trial under Scots law, but only agreed to do so if they were tried not on British soil. So, an impromptu court was set up at Camp Zeist in Holland. Abdelbaset Ali Al-Megrahi was convicted of the crime and sentenced to life in jail. He was released in August 2009 on humanitarian grounds as he was terminally ill and only had 3 months to live. Well, it's 16 months later and he's still alive. Not everybody was happy with that decision, as he had treated his victims with inhumanity.
This entry is dedicated to the memory of the 270 victims of Lockerbie.
The BBC has a separate webpage "On this day"