Joe Vialls: The Bomb Trigger on Pan Am 103


There is a 99% probability the bomb on Pan Am at Lockerbie was triggered by a simple radio detonator, not by a MEBO timer as claimed by American intelligence…

Copyright Joe Vialls, May 2000


For years disinformation specialists have peddled a giant lie about the crash of Pan Am 103 at Lockerbie. Time and time again the media has hysterically regurgitated the flawed and impossible legend that Maid of the Seas was brought to earth by a bomb triggered by a barometrically-activated timer, hidden in a radio in a samsonite suitcase. A barometric timer set for 10,000 feet altitude, which miraculously failed to activate when the Air Malta Flight it was allegedly planted on climbed through 10,000 feet after departing Valetta for Frankfurt, and again when the Pam Am feeder Boeing 727 to London climbed through 10,000 feet after departing Frankfurt.

As already explained in “Setting Up Libya for the Lockerbie Bombing” on this web site, a barometric timer could not possible have triggered a bomb on any of the three aircraft types cited by the prosecution. Hard scientific proof of the real method of detonation has been in the hands of the AAIB since 1990, though this official body appears reluctant to release full details. There is a 99% probability the bomb on Pan Am 103 was triggered by a simple radio detonator, and the AAIB has ample scientific evidence available to make this fact crystal clear to the public.

In order to easily understand the process of radio detonation, brief but accurate background information is provided here for readers not familiar with airline in-flight procedures, or with the chain of events immediately preceding the crash of Pan Am 103 at Lockerbie in December 1988.

Pan American Flight 103 Maid of the Seas took off from London Airport Heathrow with all systems working perfectly, and headed north along an established airway (road in the sky), before commencing a turn west across the Atlantic Ocean, the latter scheduled to take place after the Jumbo passed overhead a radio beacon at Dean Cross in the English Lake District. Ground control of this flight procedure was by radio, with the aircraft captain or co-pilot changing frequencies as Maid of the Seas passed from one jurisdiction to the next.

As the AAIB report makes quite clear, nothing untoward was noted on the cockpit or data flight recorders before Pam Am 103 suddenly exploded, within minutes of changing radio frequencies after passing overhead the Dean beacon. Let me emphasize this critical point once more for absolute clarity: Shortly after the captain changed frequency to 123.95 Megahertz VHF overhead the Dean Cross radio beacon, then transmitted in order to obtain clearance for the Atlantic crossing, there was a short pause followed by aircraft detonation.

All VHF frequencies are unique, in the sense that duplications within specified regions are not allowed, to prevent one channel breaking in on another. For example, if the local airport at Carlisle in southern Scotland was also transmitting on 123.95 MHz, then radio clearances from Oceanic Control could easily become cluttered or jammed by messages from other planes to the Carlisle control tower. More interesting still, very careful perusal of the charts shows the frequency 123.95 MHz was not replicated within VHF radio range of Pam Am 103 at any point on its long journey from San Francisco & New York to London, or on its shorter journey from London to Dean Cross. This last point would be of critical importance to any terrorist organization wishing to blow an airliner out of the sky by use of remote radio detonation, a standard terrorist technique.

The two attached colour charts show the final track of Pan Am 103 that night.. Maid of the Seas was flying at approximately 500 m.p.h. between Dean Cross and the town of Lockerbie, an overall distance of thirty two miles, representing a point-to-point flight time of barely four minutes. By the admission of the AAIB, the captain was heard transmitting his request for transatlantic clearance, then there was a loud noise on the cockpit voice recorder, then silence.

When Pam Am 103 crossed overhead the Dean Cross beacon, a light flashed on in the Jumbo’s cockpit, alerting the pilots to change frequency in order to obtain permission for their Atlantic crossing. Using standard reaction times, it would have taken about one minute for the pilots to see the flashing light and decide to take action, plus about another minute to dial up the new frequency on the cockpit VHF selectors ready to transmit. Then perhaps another minute if one of the pilots was drinking coffee or chatting to an air hostess.

Airways beacons are not like traffic lights on a street corner. Though there is a need to take action when the beacon light comes on, it is not a matter of “now, now, now!” Airline captains quizzed on this point by the author suggested that, in their experience, three to five minutes would be about right, from the point at which the light first came on, to the completion of the radio transmission. Once again for the record, please note that the flight time from Dean Cross to Lockerbie was four minutes.

A radio trigger works in one of two different ways. In the first, a command radio signal is simply sent to the target from the ground (or from another aircraft), and in the second the command radio signal is generated within the target itself at a specific time, based on known frequencies and flight routing. The unique frequency of 123.95 MHz is very important here. Pan Am 103 always flew the same route, and as a result always used 123.95 MHz to ask permission for the Atlantic crossing. The inside of a Boeing 747 is like a Faraday Cage, ensuring secondary emissions from the captain’s radio message to Oceanic Control, would be sufficient to activate the radio trigger of the bomb positioned against the outer hull of Maid of the Seas.

There are existing documented examples of this technique. A few years ago Israeli Intelligence managed to slip a new cellular telephone to a Hamas leader, which was already booby-trapped with Semtex explosive and a radio trigger. By carefully listening to the telephone frequencies, the Israelis were able to monitor the times when the Hamas leader actually had the cellular phone pressed to his ear. As soon as they were sure they had the right man, an Israeli pilot in an F15 Eagle sent a coded radio “squirt” to the cellular phone, which blew the Hamas leader’s head off. This particular cellular phone could have used either of the two techniques mentioned above; i.e. an Israeli agent standing only 30 feet away from the Hamas leader could have achieved exactly the same result, using a very low powered (secondary emission) signal.

The main point of this report is that since 1990, the AAIB has had in its possession a fragment of a radio circuit board, charred and contaminated with explosives residue. But instead of reaching the obvious conclusion of a simple terrorist radio trigger, the AAIB was apparently sidetracked by ridiculous stories emanating from the CIA and others, about incredibly complex radio devices constructed in Germany and heaven knows where else. Presumably from the AAIB perspective, the radio fragment fitted nicely into the CIA cover story. Nowadays, with the remaining “evidence” including the faked timer thoroughly discredited by manufacturers MEBO of Switzerland, we are left with a single scorched fragment of a radio circuit board. This is hardly surprising. All radio triggers require a radio circuit board in order to function at all, including the one used to destroy Pan Am 103. However, no radio trigger ever invented needs a fake timer circuit board, or an imaginary barometric switch.

Radio triggers are very important in another obscene way. If terrorists decide to carry out an atrocity for geopolitical gain, it is very important that the public sees the atrocity take place, or at least sees the aftermath of the atrocity. With an aircraft bombing this means bringing the wreckage and victims down within reach of media cameras, and thus within reach of shocked relatives of the dead. For this you do not use (fictional) timers or barometric switches, because all such devices are vulnerable to the most common airline problem of all – unscheduled delay. Not much point in using a device like this if the possible results range from an explosion at Malta Airport, to detonation far out over the Atlantic, where no one would ever see the horrific results.

With the radio trigger set to 123.95 MHz, and pilot response time to the airways beacon light known to range broadly from one to five minutes, deposition of the aircraft wreckage and bodies was already known within certain limits. The crash site would be north of Dean Cross, within one to five minutes of the beacon light flashing, at 500 m.p.h. ground speed. If the pilot was quick off the mark and transmitted one minute after the light came on, the crash site would be south of the shallow Solway Firth (see colour charts). If the pilot was exceptionally slow and transmitted five minutes after the light came on, the crash site would be north-north-west of Dumfries. But no matter when the radio trigger was activated within this four minute time frame, the aircraft wreckage and the bodies would be certain to fall where they would generate a media spectacular, and the perfect opportunity to once more “prove” how “dangerous” these “Arab Terrorists” really are, whether they come from Iran, Iraq, Syria or Libya. The bombing of Pam Am 103 over Lockerbie was the most effective “false flag” operation for twenty years.

You have to feel pity for the AAIB investigators. A Boeing 747 suddenly explodes within minutes of transmitting on 123.95 MHz and they don’t see any connection. Then they recover the black box recorders which show nothing wrong with any of the aircraft systems before the pilot transmitted on 123.95, then a loud noise, then silence. Still the investigators at the AAIB fail to make the connection. Later they recover a fragment of radio circuit board from the immediate vicinity of the blast, charred and contaminated with explosives residue, and still they shake their heads in bewilderment. For heaven’s sake, what did these investigators need to convince them Pan Am 103 was brought to earth by a simple radio-triggered bomb? Perhaps a tag attached to the circuit board fragment stating “I am part of a standard mil radio detonator” might have helped.

There is one critical question the Libyan defence team needs to ask the AAIB investigators when they are called to give evidence at Camp Zeist: “From the scientific evidence in your possession, is it possible that the bomb on Pan Am 103 was triggered by a radio detonator tuned to 123.95 Megahertz?” Scientifically speaking, the only possible AAIB answer should be “Yes, your Honour.”


The author Joe Vialls, is an independent investigator with thirty years direct experience of international military and oilfield operations.

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