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Pan Am-An Aviation Legend book cover

Pan Am-An Aviation Legend
by Barnaby Conrad III, 1999
ISBN-10: 0942627555

Book Review

Book review by Helen Engelhardt-Hawkins, wife of Pan Am victim Anthony Lacey Hawkins, and creator of Mothers and Sons, 2008 (F/V 4508) and Coming Home to Us: A Trilogy of Love, Loss, & Healing, 2011 (F/V 6204). Both are available in the Pan Am Flight 103 Audiovisual Collection

This is a coffee table book about America's glorious airline. You will not be surprised to learn, as I did, that this book takes PR to new depths while masquerading as history. I was curious to see how Mr. Conrad was going to handle the disagreeable matter of a certain event that occurred on December 21, 1988. He couldn't leave it out entirely-but how to explain what happened to America's "greatest airline" on that day? Turn to page 199 and you see the same photo of the nose cone in Tundergarth field-with policemen surrounding it like the Lillipeutians did Gulliver-that adorns the cover of the Lockerbie Trial Briefing Handbook. And this is how it is interpreted:

"A Libyan terrorist's bomb destroyed a PA 747 flying above Lockerbie, Scotland on December 21, 1988, killing everyone on board. The tragedy had a devastating effect on Pan Am bookings."


In no particular order, I note the following inaccuracies [throughout the text]: Pan Am Flight 103 killed eleven people on the ground as well…We [didn't] know for certain it was a Libyan bomb [at the time this book was written]…The date, once again, is December 21, 1988 not the 23.

I think the few facts that Conrad lets slip through-Plaskett's monumental incompetence, the hemorrhaging of millions from early 1980, the terrorist attacking of a Pan Am 747 earlier in 1988-all contributed to the easily preventable tragedy that occurred at the end of the year. Mr. Conrad doesn't mention at all that an Israeli expert hired by Pan Am…reported that it was a disaster waiting to happen, the façade of security which Pan Am then advertised; nor its arrogant and deadly disregard of FAA international security regulations.

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