No, I’m not talking about copypasta stories. I’m referring to real, believable stories which have so much effort put into the background and context that they could indeed be real.
I have prepared a case study for you. It is in reference to the tragedy which saw 301 souls perish on Saudia Flight 163 on 19 August 1980. In summary, the flight took off from King Salman Air Base, up until about a year ago called Riyadh Air Base (and in 1980 known as Riyadh International Airport) and a fire started on board shortly into the flight from Karachi, with a stopover in Riyadh, continuing on to Jeddah. The plane diverted back to the airport and managed a successful emergency landing. But the pilots did not stop on the runway or attempt an evacuation, instead trying to taxi off the runway as everyone on board perished due to smoke inhalation. The widely accepted reason for this is that the pilots were incompetent, backed up by the confusion found in the cockpit voice recorder.
Here are some links for reading, since I won’t type a rehash of the entire ordeal in this post:
Alternative Versions of Events
Now the alternative points of views come in. When watching a bootleg of Air Crash Investigation on YouTube, I read the comments as usual. Something caught my eye.
I navigated to the URL and read the article typed up by busbysemperfi or Michael Busby, who says he worked in Saudi Arabia at the time. It was published in 2010 and recounts a separate version of events to news articles and documentaries.
Its description reads:
The appalling truth behind the needless death of 301 people in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. From an eyewitness. In 1980, 301 people went to their death in a most gruesome fashion, all for the convenience of a king.
Although there is no hard evidence, the article recounts when he witnessed the incident. Busby’s version of events explains that King Khalid was in a Boeing 747 taxiing to the runway to take off. Allegedly, “Saudi protocol required everything at the airport to stop moving while the King’s 747 was rolling” (2010, p. 4).
Knowledge of Saudi Arabia and how the country works is highly accurate. It appears to me that this piece of work has been authored by a person who has had the experience of living in Saudi Arabia. However, the one minuscule thing that caught my attention was his variation of the word ‘rial’ on page 5. In Saudi Arabia, the typical spelling used is riyal. Other Middle Eastern countries use rial.
His version of events is backed up by YouTube commenter ‘David Schumock’ who replied to a comment on the matter, who even left his email as a point of contact.
The biggest inconsistency I can see between these two sources is the amount of time the plane spent on the runway. David Schumock is the only person that mentions that the aircraft was still for 20 minutes before a ball of flame appeared.
Another set of evidence is some websites claiming the similar versions of events wherein the plane had to make way for a Royal Flight.
The Role of Saudi King was also Discussed in causing delay in Emergency Procedures but Hush Hush Prevailed.
It is so true that so many Pakistani Died about Flight 163 and yet Pakistan Government made a hush Hush over this Incident and also downplayed the cruel role off Saudi king and that of incompetent Saudia Aviation Delaying rescue of almost 30 Minutes when the doors were opened and people just died and burned inside while they could have been saved . (http://web.archive.org/web/20191211192719/https://pakiav.blogspot.com/2014/06/how-pakistanis-were-burnt-alive-in.html)
However, none of these articles mention that a 737 departed and a DC-8 that was stopped as mentioned here.
In addition, we should consider what these authors have to gain from lying about the incident. The most obvious reason is to discredit the KSA and its system of government. The singling out of a ‘Saudi King’ appears to be a direct attack on the monarchy and possibly the image of autocracy.
YouTube. 2019. Air Crash Investigation -Mystery of Saudia Flight 163 -SV 163 – YouTube. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nq7oA3IG02o. [Accessed 14 September 2019].
Scribd. 2019. Death of An Airplane: The Appalling Truth About Saudia Airlines Flight 163 | Aviation | Aeronautics. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.scribd.com/doc/38040625/Death-of-An-Airplane-The-Appalling-Truth-About-Saudia-Airlines-Flight-163. [Accessed 14 September 2019].
Paki Aviation : How Pakistanis were Burnt Alive in Mysterious Flight 163 Because of Saudi Royal Family . 2019. Paki Aviation : How Pakistanis were Burnt Alive in Mysterious Flight 163 Because of Saudi Royal Family . [ONLINE] Available at: http://web.archive.org/web/20191211192719/https://pakiav.blogspot.com/2014/06/how-pakistanis-were-burnt-alive-in.html. [Accessed 11 December 2019].
PPrune Forums (2019). Saudi 163 – PPRuNe Forums. [online] Pprune.org. Available at: http://web.archive.org/web/20191211195528/https://www.pprune.org/accidents-close-calls/617221-saudi-163-a.html