Nightmare In The Air…

The exact date was September 1st, 1983. There came the newsflash, that an Airliner belonging to the KAL, and on its flight from Los Angeles to Seoul, S. Korea, via Anchorage, was reported missing. Within hours, what sounded like a joke to begin with, turned out to be solid truth.

Those interested in following the story to the very core, sat in front of their television screens. The aircraft supposedly carried “aggregates” on board, capable of spying on the then Soviet Union for the United States of America, and ‘she’, the Airline, was believed to be doing just that, and that was why she was hit.

It had been shot-down, with 269 passengers and crew on board. Among the victims was a sitting- member of the US-Congress. This was a time, when the world was divided exactly into two halves politically.

There was Communism, and the Soviet Union was the master, with his domicile in Moscow. Then, you had Capitalism, and the big man sat in Washington DC, USA. The issue became hot, and everybody “was invited to join”, in the condemnation of the “evil Communists”, capable of such a dastardly act.

The United Nations got busy. The issues of the Cold War such as this would die out, and the UN, plus historians would archive in detail everything, and “life would go on, as usual.” Somebody, mostly the Insurance bodies, or the culprits, when they could be found, would be made by the authoritative would-bodies, to compensate the loved ones, and they would die with their emotions one day.

But, if any of my readers haven’t ever come close to dying in the air, please let them “lend me their ears and their sense of imagination”, for a while. In the mid of “the nineties” the Air-Bus Corporation had so advanced in aircraft-manufacturing, that the big giants in that Industry; namely the “Boeing Corporation “, “MacDonnell Douglas”, and “Pratt-Whitney” had understood, or at least recognized the European competitor, -the Air Bus”.

The fine Airline, the “Lufthansa” did run a Service, “Addis Abeba-Jeddah-Frankfurt”, if not daily, at least three times in the week. I speak German, and I love Smoked Salmon, the German way. If I had the occasion to fly that route, I didn’t hesitate “falling in love with the Germans”.

Things looked one Wednesday-Night, so usual compared to what I had experienced for a couple of years. We would go through the routine, and our stretch of the flight when we would join, would be Jeddah-Frankfurt, and non-stop, of course.

As we would take off one day, the announcer would narrate to us in English, with German accent, and our Arab-speaking guests would be given a treat in Arabic too. We would fly over Egypt, then Greece, whereby we would already be in European Airspace.

Altogether, “six-hours-and-a-half”, and we would make a landing in Frankfurt/Main. What you would have just heard didn’t apply to one Wednesday in the summer of 1995. On that day, the announcer didn’t quite finish talking of the nice weather, and he had to interrupt what he was trying to get to his guests, with the announcement virtually ordering us to get back to our seats, and to fasten our seat-belts.

It did not turn out as one of such announcements every flyer has experienced before, whereby moments later, the announcement would come back, easing the atmosphere. In the situation you are being invited to try and be part of, the children already had started yelling, everybody was shivering, and those who had hoped to enjoy a “cozy” meal, and had made room for it, by having voluntarily missed lunch that day, were damn disappointed.

Worse still, was the fact that, soon into the “helter-skelter”, the staff had gone silent, and the yelling of the children was all we had in the air, so to speak, until later, all was silent, but at the same time, all were expectant. I would not like to impart what I was thinking deep in my brain, because, it would not be “cultured.”

Just let me say, like the Americans would put it,”I was glad we landed in Frankfurt, and all were alive, and wholesome.” On that flight, no food was served, how could it be?. I even wonder, if anybody used the WC. Being inquisitive, I grabbed some bravery, and went to ask at the LH-main office at the Frankfurt/Main Airport, “what the heck happened to us on the Jeddah-Frankfurt stretch that day!”

Why didn’t they try landing in Cairo, or Athens, or even in Munich, if they did not trust anyone else outside Germany. “They were glad we arrived! “That’s all you could surmise, looking at people’s faces.

Since then, both Boeing, and the Air-Bus-corporation have added to their fleet, Aircraft carrying as many as 750 passengers, and crew on one machine. You could take shower, and even swim on board the A380. About three years ago, an A380 left the Super-Airport in Singapore, heading for Sydney.

But, it soon had to come back to land in Singapore. An engine had developed trouble, but all else had functioned never-the-less satisfactorily. All passengers were whole, as the machine came to land.

I would not attempt to lecture on aviation, but I am sure all are breathing with the Malaysians, and the loved ones of the 239 passengers, who were on board, as the machine took off from Kuala Lumpur, on the 8th of March, 2o14, heading for Beijing. I may be talking of Flight MA 370.

I was in an office of a medical manufacturer in the City of Jeddah, when five people watched on the Television screen, and the second plane hitting the Twin-Towers. Not long thereafter, it was announced the Pentagon had been hit too, and Barbara Olsen, a staunch Lawyer/ Feminist/Journalist was on board. That was 2001, on the 11th of September.

The Americans, and almost the entire world just call it 9/11. But, before then, Lockerbie in Scotland: The date was December 21st, 1988. The Panam Flt. 103 from Frankfurt over Heathrow to Detroit, and 259 passengers on the Aircraft, plus 11 on land in the Scottish Township of Lockerbie.

All died as the Aeroplane came down, when the bomb planted on it in London exploded. Again, but this time in the Pacific? May their Souls rest in peace!