Exclusive to Clipper Crew from psychotherapist and Huffington Post blogger, Dr. Helen Davey
It was 26 years ago, on December 21, 1988, but I’ll never get those photographs out of my mind. Pan Am’s Clipper Maid of the Seas lay shattered in that Scottish meadow of Lockerbie, images that would soon flash across television screens all around the world. For most of the retired and active employees of Pan Am, like myself, the world seemed to come to a standstill as we anxiously awaited word about the victims.
This tragedy has been called “the day the heart of Pan American died”, and became the final nail in the coffin of our beloved company.
While the world mourned the 243 passengers and the 11 victims killed on the ground, our Pan Am family went into shock over the loss of our 16 precious crew members. We fellow Pan Amers remained glued to our televisions and radios, dreading the possibility that we’d lost close friends.
Those of us sitting on jump seats, and pilots manning the cockpits were always aware of the possibility that things could go horribly wrong, but our job was to reinforce the passengers’ need for the denial of death. It was one of our most important functions.
But after the Lockerbie tragedy how could anyone ever again deny the possibility of being blown from the sky? I remember wondering over and over what it felt like for the crew and passengers in those final moments. Were they conscious? What were they thinking about? Did they feel pain? Fear? Did they see the ground coming towards them? The Prologue of Flying: A Novel by Paula Helfrich and Rebecca Sprecher puts words to our deepest fears, but at the same time comforts us that somebody is bearing witness to their experience.
Even though Pan Am the company died, we all in one way or another, retain our friendship with it. Let’s do our part to make sure that it’s “Gone But Not Forgotten”.