Tonight is the longest night of the year in the northern hemisphere, with the winter solstice occurring at 22:23 GMT. (In the southern hemisphere it's the summer solstice and the longest day of the year.)
30 years ago was the start of a longest night of a different sort: the bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Dumfriesshire, Scotland. Flying from London Heathrow to New York's JFK, the Boeing 747-121 (N739PA Clipper Maid of the Seas) had departed London on schedule at 6:00 pm and was level at FL310 when an improvised explosive device in a suitcase exploded near the left side of the foreword cargo hold at approximately 7:02:50 pm. The explosion and subsequent crash killed 270 people, including all 259 aboard the aircraft (three New York-based flight crew, 13 London-based cabin crew, and 243 passengers), plus 11 residents of Lockerbie. (Additional details can be found in the references below.)
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Karl L. Swartz.
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