Who, exactly, is writing this stuff, and who is responsible for its accuracy?On January 21st, Luxury Travel Diary ran a short piece about the Pegasus Airlines incident.It wasn’t until I was able to track down a nearly forty year-old book that I was able to get a more tangible and qualitative sense of just how much air travel has expanded since the days of my childhood — suddenly I could from 1980. The biggest carrier in the world at the time, by far, was Aeroflot, the Soviet state airline.
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I had a copy of this book (as well as versions from 19). Instead we had “commuter” airlines, which operated independently, in their own colors. Thursday, December 21st, is the winter solstice and either the shortest or longest day of the year, depending on your hemisphere.
On weekends I’d carry it, along with a pair of old Bushnell binoculars, up to the observation deck at Boston’s Logan Airport. My annual I long ago lost those books, but I was able to track down a copy of the ’80 volume from e Bay. It also marks the 29th anniversary of one of the most notorious terrorist bombings, the 1988 downing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.
The entire fleets of airlines like Pan Am, TWA, British Airways or Lufthansa took up no more than two or three pages. Fed Ex — or Federal Express as it was known at the time — had 55 planes, the majority of them tiny Falcon jets. A photograph of the decapitated cockpit and first class section of the 747, lying crushed on its side in a field, became an icon of the disaster, and is perhaps the saddest air crash photo of all time.
This was a year after Jimmy Carter signed the Airline Deregulation Act, which was one of the catalysts for the growth that would follow, but I can’t imagine that anyone had an inkling of just how stupendous that growth would be. Two Libyans, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi and Lamin Khalifah Fhimah, were later tried in the Netherlands for the bombing.
Earlier that week, a Pegasus 737 skidded off the runway in Trabzon, Turkey, coming to rest on the slope of a cliff.
Chances are you saw photos of the jet, its landing gear scraped away, clinging to the dirt on the edge of the Black Sea. “It remains unclear,” the story explained, “whether the cause of the disaster was runway conditions, pilot error or failure of landing equipment.” There are, of course, two things glaringly wrong with this. While I’d like to tell these two models are easily confused, the two could scarcely be more different. How, exactly, can an accident in which not a single person was killed or seriously hurt be described as a “disaster”? And is this what passes for news these days: poorly written alarmism zapped anonymously to our smartphones?
Here you see the carrier’s new look, unveiled this week. One of the newsfeeds on my phone comes from something called Luxury Travel Diary.
The result is both anemic and disrespectful to the company’s proud history.
During my vacation to the island a couple of years ago, it was a little eerie when I found myself walking past the Libyan Airlines ticket office, which is still there, just inside the gate to the old city of Valletta.
In 2009, in a move that has startled the world, Scottish authorities struck a deal with the Libyan government, and al-Megrahi, terminally ill at the time, was allowed to return home, to be with his family in his final days. There’s lots to read online about flight 103, including many ghastly day-after pictures from Lockerbie.
It’s good guilty pleasure reading, but there’s a sensationalist tone to many of the stories, and everything is strangely anonymous.