David Wilson

David Wilson

United Kingdom
About: Lockerbie Area Resident, Teacher at Lockerbie Academy and Lockerbie Council Member
Bio: Lockerbie resident David Wilson was working as a Secondary School teacher at Lockerbie Academy at the time of the attack. David was also a local Lockerbie council member, and in the aftermath of the bombing, he put his teaching career on hold to concentrate on his role as a Lockerbie councilor, during such a turbulent period.

    Survivor - Just Feet Away from Total Destruction

    The day of the attack


    David was working as a Secondary School social subjects teacher in Lockerbie at the time of the attack. He had been out for the evening enjoying a celebratory family meal, when Pan Am flight 103 exploded over the town.

    David begins his story with his recollections of the night.

    David remembers the great sense of confusion in the immediate aftermath of the attack, as people tried to decipher what had happened.

    As David walked around the town and was able to assess the damage that had been caused, it became clear that people had either had a lucky escape, or had died.

    David was also a member of the local council, and wanted to gain a true sense of all of the places that had taken a direct hit from the plane.

    The smoke from the fires, along with the strong smell of aviation fuel, caused many to reference the scene as something resembling a horror film. It’s a feeling that David can remember vividly:

    The days following the attack


    On the day after the attack, David visited Rosebank Crescent, where the fuselage of the plane had crashed. He visited a number of residents, and was surprised at just how many of them were adamant that they would remain in their homes- despite the horrors surrounding them.

    Even amongst all of the grief and sadness being felt throughout the town, people were still trying to look at the positives- in relation to how much worse things could have been. 

    In the first few days following the bombing, David recalls feeling overwhelmed by the scenes unfolding all around him. From international film crews arriving, to the army stationed in the centre of the town- everything was like something from a film.

    All school classes in Lockerbie were immediately canceled, as the buildings were being used as a base for the emergency services, government and council officials.

    As relatives and families of the victims began arriving from all over the world, people in Lockerbie weren’t expecting to be openly thanked for the kindness and compassion they’d shown.

    David can remember the hospitable actions of some of the Americans in particular:

    It soon became clear that David’s main job as a Secondary School teacher would have to be put on hold for several months, to allow him to channel all of his energy and efforts into his council role.

    For the first few months of 1989, David spent most of his days tied up in meetings relating to the attack.

    Long-term effects of the attack


    The concept of ‘post traumatic stress disorder’ was certainly not as well known in 1989 as it is today. But people had suffered horrendous emotional traumas from the disaster, and many would carry the weight of those for years to come.

    David feels that every single person in Lockerbie reacted differently to the bombing, with some able to process what happened more easily than others.


    Of the hundreds of scenarios, scenes and events that David witnessed in the days, weeks and months following the attack, these are some of the key moments that have stayed with him for the last 35 years:

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