By Robbie the Pict STAFF WRITER Veterans Today
The Lockerbie Justice Group
An eye-witness saw the plane, still basically intact, flying a high speed version of a landing approach. With the engines on full throttle it passed over his head at about 500’, crossed the A74 dual carriageway and ploughed into Lockerbie at about a 10 degree angle where it exploded, sending bits high into the air. This concurs with the cigar shaped gouge on the ground and the scatter pattern of debris.
For all the talk of ‘balance’ and ‘right of reply’ and so on, why does everyone continue to speculate on the basis that this explosion was deliberate? With the notable exception of The Firm, the equally valid possibility, in both logic and law, that the explosion was accidental seems to be studiousy ignored.
People like ‘Rolfe’, ‘Caustic Logic’ and ‘Blogiston’ often make astute postings on ‘The Lockerbie Case’, especially the most recent. Might not they, and others like them, be better armed intellectually if exposed to the possibility that the ‘bomb theory’ might be a calculated myriad of diversion?
I hope everyone is not now ego-bound to a bomb and cannot grant even intelletual space to other possibilities. Even The Firm’s editorial about the apparent media-manipulation by the repeated and almost determined use of the term ‘bomb’ despite the paucity of evidence for such an explanation immediately drew a response from an American air accident investigator Barry Smith. Barry’s report on the likelihood of the cargo door failing, and the resultant explosive decompression being responsible, runs to almost 400 pages and is an interesting read. As yet The Firm has not seen fit to identify its existence to the magazine’s readership.
As I have said before, the truth must be in one of two temples of knowledge: above one temple door is a sign saying ‘DELIBERATE EXPLOSION’ and above the other’s door is a sign saying ‘ACCIDENTAL EXPLOSION’. For over twenty years the press and public seem to have been led by the nose round the spurious contents of the first temple. To what end? What evidence is there really for a bomb? For all Dr Swire’s talk of Iranian responsibility, what evidence would he place on a courtroom table that would convict an Iranian accused beyond reasonable doubt?
For those who might dare to peer through the windows of the ‘ACCIDENT’ temple, I now have the names of three search and rescue personnel who are on record claiming that they were warned away from a pallet, piled with what looked like munitions, by snipers in a helicopter. I went to Lockerbie last week and spoke to witnesses who had the aircraft pass only feet above their heads, so close they thought they would be killed, but with a ‘terrible grinding noise’ from the engines. That would fit with Barry Smith’s explanation, if a cargo door blew out and into an egine intake. The witness who thought he saw a near-complete plane above his head at Hightae heading for Lockerbie 4miles away could be wrong, but he should be questioned in the hope that we can eventually piece together the big picture, something which remains very muddy after looking for conspirators for twenty years.
I’M SORRY MR MEGRAHI, YOU DESERVED A BETTER DEFENCE. TRY THIS ONE.
THE PANAM 103 CRASH MAY HAVE BEEN ACCIDENTAL. AN ESSAY IN LAW.
Let me state at the outset that I have no interest in conspiracy theories, other than as conversational japes. The one the Crown came up with concerning the PanAm 103 crash is so absurd it gives the genre a bad name. The following is an essay in law and law alone. It ventures into rocket science by necessity, but within the context of defence argument.
One of the universally recognised tools of a defence lawyer is to counter the prosecutor’s version of events with what is called a ‘credible alternative’. It does not need to be true in an absolute sense, just sufficiently credible for the Judge or jury to accept that it might be true, and therefore there is reasonable doubt about the absolute veracity of the prosecutor’s version. In these circumstances the accused must be given the benefit of that doubt and acquitted of the charge(s) against him. In most countries he must then be found ‘not guilty’ but in Scotland he can be found ‘not proven’, which is often used to express suspicion whilst admitting that the prosecutor’s case was not quite good enough.
In short form, Mr Megrahi was accused of causing an explosion on a plane which killed many people. Let us pause right there and talk about explosions in principle. The politics of explosions are really simple. Explosions are either accidental or deliberate, unintentional or intentional, uncommanded or commanded. Thus far with Lockerbie, the public has been exposed to only one of the two logical possibilities, that of a deliberate, commanded, intentional explosion. The door marked ‘accidental’ has never been opened or allowed to be opened.
Summing up some 4-5 years of occasional research into the crash, originally at the invitation of Dr Jim Swire who has a holiday home on Skye near where I live, I note evidence which I thought should have reached the Court at Kamp Zeisst but did not. It includes the following:
- An eye-witness saw the plane, still basically intact, flying a high speed version of a landing approach. With the engines on full throttle it passed over his head at about 500’, crossed the A74 dual carriageway and ploughed into Lockerbie at about a 10 degree angle where it exploded, sending bits high into the air. This concurs with the cigar shaped gouge on the ground and the scatter pattern of debris.
- A witness heard a series of explosions above as the plane passed over-head.
- A pilot travelling south from Glasgow saw a flash coming from PanAm 103 before he passed it.
- The interior walls of the cargo hold bore markings as if a shotgun had been fired into the metal skin.
- There were a variety of low explosive and high explosive ‘signatures’ on board the aircraft, tell-tale patterns or marks which could identify explosive ‘events’.
- The cargo manifest, or waybill, identifies 14 packages of items described only as “Pins and Needles”, weighing 264Kg, and two items weighing 884Kg in total described as “Grinding Machines” travelling from Birmingham in England to Newark and Washington respectively, or so labelled. There is also a shipment of 900Kg of “Brochures” travelling from London to Boston, supposedly.
[Emery Airfreight Corporation Waybill #026 6557 7260, LON/NYC/5663 21 Dec. 1988]
In addition, evidence WAS given at the trial that some million “sewing machine needles” were scattered on the ground, supposedly part of the cargo, according to the Americans suddenly present.
Extract from evidence given by DC Alexander McLean, working in Sector B. (P 339)
“McLean: We encountered one or two difficulties, sir. And one of the major ones was that on the aircraft there was a million sewing machine needles being conveyed and they landed with the fuselage in the sector – B Sector. And unknown to us at the time, one or two officers got pricked with the needles. And so eventually we had to spread a very large tarpaulin right along the site and move forward sort of by inch by inch.
Q: The sewing machine needles were being carried as cargo on the aircraft?
McLean: That’s correct, sir.”
It is interesting that a few days later the Daily Record carried a police warning that a large number of hypodermic needles were scattered around Lockerbie and no-one should touch them for fear of contamination. Are we to believe that Scottish police cannot distinguish a sewing machine needle from a hypodermic?
Keeping the above in mind, let us now open the door marked ‘Accident’ for perhaps the first time and in defiance of the apparent media management to keep it shut. Accidents can of course happen in a multiplicity of forms and could include structural defects, such as a problem with 747 cargo doors which has been identified, instrument error, computer error, pilot error and so on. However let us take a similar approach to that which would be taken by a fire investigator, namely ‘where did it start and what might have been switched on at the time?’
Our principal clue comes from the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) which tells us that the crew were in dialogue with Prestwick air traffic control up until the point of electrical failure. They were coming to the end of a relatively long broadcast, more than half a minute, during which they were “copying” their transatlantic navigational instructions. The Air Accident Investigation Report gives the impression that the crew were ‘copying back’ but the evidence produced at Kamp Zeisst is the opposite, that they were receiving the long transmission. That discrepancy may be highly significant. There is a regimental obligation to ‘copy’ (‘back’ understood) such instructions as a fundamental requirement towards air safety. A proper investigator’s second question therefore gets one answer: the radio was switched on at the time of power loss. Could there be a connection between these two facts? Let us examine the possibilities.
At this point the defence lawyer has to take the Court into the world of war, and particularly the area of rocket science. We are speaking here of relatively small, but very deadly, rockets, maybe 5 inches in diameter and about 3-4 feet long. These rockets are used in the theatre of battle and can be fired from helicopters, tanks, jeeps or a person’s shoulder. They may also be used by the navy in a variety of applications. They can also be referred to as ‘missiles’.
Let us consider a rocket fairly typical of these times and very popular around the globe, the Lockheed Hydra 70. It will serve as a generic example for the purposes of legal argument.
Rockets are made up of three principal stages, igniter, propellant and warhead. To the warhead is attached a fuse (Amer. ‘fuze’) and detonator. Because there is more than one meaning to the word ‘fuse’ or ‘fuze’, let us keep ‘fuse’ for such as you find in cars and houses for circuit protection and use the American spelling to denote a ‘light blue touch paper and retire immediately’ type of ‘fuze’, something which ignites or detonates.
Proper investigation might lead to the EEDs in the igniter and propellant stages but let us concentrate for the moment on the business end, the warhead and its detonation arrangements. Lockheed supply a variety of warheads for the Hydra 70 and military shoppers can choose whether to blow up their targets, or ignite them, or gas them or just rip them to shreds with thousands of little arrows about an inch long called ‘flechettes’.
The Lockheed Hydra 70, for example, uses an M439 fuze joined to an M84 detonator to trigger its variety of warheads. Despite all the sophistication of electrical and mechanical safety features in the M439 fuze, which is really a form of protective circuit break, the detonator itself can be vulnerable to direct effect on its own fuze arrangement, should there be an external source of electrical impulse. The preliminary M439 fuze system is effectively by-passed and an external electrical force is applied to the detonator fuze.
A radio signal is an example of such an impulse and will induce voltage. This is called radiation hazard or ‘Rad-Haz’ and can be defined as uncommanded effect from an external source of radiation. It is a recognized phenomenon in military circles, where material is labelled ‘HERO-safe’ or ‘HERO-unsafe’ (Hazard of Electromagnetic Radiation to Ordnance). (It is also referred to as EMI or E3.)
Speaking of the M84 Detonator, the Federation of American Scientists says;
“The M84 detonator contains an ignition charge of 5 mg of lead styphnate, an ignition charge of 65 mg of lead azide, and a base charge of 65 mg of PETN. It is a low impedance (2 to 5 ohm) bridge wire device requiring 500 ergs of energy to fire.”
Let us explore exactly what that means.
The erg is the standard unit of energy in the centimetre-gram-second (cgs ) or small-unit metric system . It is an amount of energy equivalent to that expended by a force of one dyne acting over a distance of one centimetre . This is a small unit of energy, equivalent to 0.0000001 (one ten-millionth) of a joule. It has been suggested that 1 erg is approximately the amount of energy required for a midgie or a mosquito to take off. Imagine 500 midgies leaving your arm. That amount of energy will detonate this warhead.
BRIDGE WIRE DEVICE
Barry T. Neyer an American expert in this field, from EG&G Optoelectronics says on this:
“Electric currents are applied to an electro-explosive device for several reasons. One is to function the device. Another reason would be to check the electrical resistance of the circuit to ensure that the device will work as expected. When checking the resistance, it is important to ensure that the device does not function, and that it does not degrade. Thus, it is desirable to know the current-induced temperature rise in the bridge wire.
Electro-explosive components are widely used to convert electrical energy into an explosive output. Current from an external source is applied via metallic pins to a resistive bridge wire. The current heats the bridge wire, which in turn heats the explosive, causing it to ignite.
A similar type of device is an exploding bridge wire device (EBW). A rapidly rising current from a capacitor discharge unit causes the wire to rapidly heat and burst. The bursting wire causes the explosive to either deflagrate or detonate.
[The proper functioning of such a device requires that the bridge wire remains intact and not be degraded before the unit is used. Because the bridge wire can be broken during the explosive loading process, or can degrade due to incompatibility with the explosive mixture, it is often desirable to ensure that the bridge wire has not been damaged. The most commonly used method of determining that the bridge wire has not been degraded is to measure the resistance of the device before and after loading the explosive. These numbers should be approximately the same. The resistance can also be measured as the device ages to ensure that no degradation occurs.
Implicit in this measurement technique is the assumption that the measurement does not in any way damage the bridge wire – explosive interface. The requirement of no damage requires that the current used to perform the resistance measurement is low enough that it raises the temperature only minimally. Thus, current limiting resistors must be used.] “
Proceedings of the Sixteenth Symposium on Explosives and Pyrotechnics, Essington, PA, April 1997. EG&G Optoelectronics/Star City (Research partially funded by Lockheed Martin)
Oxford University warns that this substance is “Explosive. Unstable. May detonate if subject to mechanical shock or friction, or if heated. Very hazardous when dry.
Particularly sensitive to fire and the discharge of static electricity, being the most sensitive explosive in this category (when dry it can be reliably detonated by static discharges from the human body, requiring only 0.004J for that to occur.) The longer and narrower the crystals the more susceptible lead styphnate is to static electricity.”
“Lead azide is highly sensitive and usually handled and stored under water in insulated rubber containers. It will explode after a fall of around 150 mm (6 in) or in the presence of a static discharge of 7 millijoules.” (Wikipedia)
“It is rarely used alone, but primarily used in booster and bursting charges of small calibre ammunition, in upper charges of detonators in some land mines and shells, and as the explosive core of detonation cord. PETN is the least stable of the common military explosives, but can be stored without significant deterioration for longer than nitroglycerin or nitrocellulose. It is also used in exploding bridge wire detonators, either alone or with a subsequent booster charge. In spark detonators, PETN is used to avoid need for primary explosives; the energy needed for a successful direct initiation of PETN by an electric spark ranges between 10-60 mJ.” (Wikipedia).
HYDRA 70 SYSTEM INFORMATION
This information is widely circulated on the internet and in many countries. It appears wholly authentic. At page 18, under the chapter entitled ‘Electrical’ there is the flowing subparagraph dealing with EMI or E3.
“2.4 EMI. Aeronautical Design Standard (ADS) 37, Subject: Electromagnetic Environmental Effects (E3)
As stated previously, the MK 66 MOD 4 Rocket Motor is HERO, 300 KV and 25
KV ESD, and EMP safe. Warheads such as the M278 contain no electronic components and
therefore do not present any E3 concerns.
The M255A1 and M264 warheads are recent developments and were evaluated for E3 because both contain electrical/electronic components, specifically the M439 electronic fuze as well as the M84 electric detonator, and therefore do have the potential to be affected by E3.”
The M264 is a ‘Smoke’ application and probably need not concern us but the M255A1 warhead contains flechettes, over a thousand of them.
And if we look at the ‘fuze and expelling charge’ a little closer, we can see where a problem might lie, name the ‘bridge wire’ laced through the expelling charge but a wire so electrically sensitive that the prolonged irradiation from a massive radio transmitter about 4 meters away, might just excite it.
Loading heavy weights into plane is a delicate matter. Trim or balance must be maintained laterally and consideration must be given to what a weight might do in extremes. The most practical and sensible place for pallets weighing almost a ton would be tight against the cargo/cockpit bulkhead. Like in a van this stops any damage fro forward momentum but if your cargo is HERO-Unsafe you have a potential problem. The aircraft transmitter is located at the rear of the cockpit module, almost directly above any load placed against the cargo bulkhead. Let us remember that a radio signal is an impulse that will induce voltage. The bridge wire had a resistance of 5 ohms maximum. The power output from a Boeing radio transmitter may well provide sufficient voltage to heat up such a bridge wire.
Depending on the nature of the cargo, a number of things could then happen. This particular aircraft, Maid of the Seas, had enjoyed a refit by the US Air Force which added about twenty tons of re-enforcement to the cargo floor. This is called a CRAF (Civilian Reserve Air Fleet) Conversion and allows the aircraft to be called into service when not on civilian commercial duties and loaded up with supplies for the military theatres. Boeing 747s were the first aircraft to be beneficiaries of this scheme in 1985.
Until we know exactly what the Emery Airfreight waybill is describing we can only offer conjecture as to what was really on board. If munitions and ordnance was on board we have no way of knowing in what forms. There may have been fully assembled rockets, or just warheads. There may have been boxes of ‘igniters’ which burn very quickly to remove the rocket from the firer before the propellant kicks in. They may have contained manganese or magnesium mixtures and caused the flash-burn pin-holes, as seen on the nylon socks of one of the dead.
How might that explain the near-complete plane driving into the ground at 500 feet, after the supposed total destruction moment, when the Crown conspiracy theory claims it was blown into 5 pieces at 30,00 feet? The answer might be that detonation of a small number of warheads, containing flechettes or forms of shrapnel, had damaged the avionics deck, sometimes known as the avionics box, the control area where the pilot’s manual or electrical efforts to control the plane are converted into physical movement of parts such as ailerons, flaps and the rudder.
Without access to these devices the plane is almost totally out of control. The only source of lift is by virtue of the shape of the wings, a flat surface below and a curved surface above. This gives a reduced pressure above the wing as the air passes over a curved surface, thus sucking the aircraft upwards (the Bernoulli Effect), but sustained flight needs the assistance of flaps and ailerons. Otherwise the only possible lift is from forward thrust and perhaps a much stressed but highly professional pilot was trying desperately to minimize the angle of impact by flying or driving his plane into the inevitable ground in order to save as many of his passengers as possible. It becomes the lesser of two evils: a powered descent over a powerless drop from 30.000 feet. If he lacked a rudder and flaps he most likely could not avoid Lockerbie and could just hope that forward momentum might carry him over the village as it had carried him over the dual carriageway.
I was only in the RAF Police for four years and I have only held a Private Pilot’s Licence but my last 15 years experience of Crown Office cynicism, duplicity and sheer pathological and paranoid criminality leaves me with no difficulty in believing that Mr Megrahi may have been fitted up as a patsy. The clan loyalties and politics of why he was even offered is beyond my ken, as are London’s oily deals. If there was indeed an illegal cargo of munitions on a civilian aircraft there will of course be ‘all Hell to pay’ and the occupants of this particular Hell may be preferring gold to dollars. If Anglo-American arms dealers have caused their own citizens to be blown up then I can understand why they would need a terrorist bomber in a hurry. I have seen no actual evidence incriminating Iran but none of that need concern a proper Court of Law.
In law there is a credible alternative to the Crown theory about the explosions on PanAm 103 which must produce doubt about the merits of the Crown case. Mr Megrahi, you deserve the benefit of that doubt and I, along with so many decent people in Scotland, am deeply embarrassed and terribly sorry that you did not receive the benefit of that doubt. I sincerely hope you manage to read this.
Robbie the Pict (a person with no intention of taking his life under any circumstances)