When Planes Fall From The Sky

Tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of the Lockerbie Air Disaster where Pan Am Flight #103 exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland. A total of 270 people died in the attack. There were 259 victims on the plane and 11 on the ground.

In the 20 years that have passed since I heard the news about the bombing, none of the stories about the aftermath of the crash have struck me as hard as the following clip from Wikipedia.

Five members of the Dixit family, including three year old Suruchi Rattan, were flying to Detroit from New Delhi. They were supposed to be on Flight 67, which had left Frankfurt earlier in the day, but one of the children had fallen ill with breathing difficulties, and the pilot had taken the unusual step of bringing the plane back to the gate to allow the family to disembark. The boy soon recovered, and the family was transferred to PA 103 instead.

Suruchi was wearing a bright red kurta and salwar for her journey — a knee length tunic and matching pants — and she became forever associated with a note left with flowers outside Lockerbie town hall:

“To the little girl in the red dress who lies here who made my flight from Frankfurt such fun. You didn’t deserve this. God Bless, Chas.”

God Bless all of the victims that died on that cold December morning in 1988.

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