Thursday


When a wife could forecast disaster in the air



Mrs Kathleen Davison attended to her make-up with steadfast care. At all costs she must control the panic that had been rising steadily since it happened... since the moment when she was quite sure she had eavesdropped on disaster.

In an hour's time Kathleen was due to leave her home in south-west London and take a taxi to  Heathrow Airport to meet her husband she had not seen for eight months. It was two weeks before Christmas 1971 and Robert Davison was due back from Delhi where he had been working as area manager for an international tea company.

It was his last tour of duty and he was dying to be transferred to a job in the UK. He was returning on a scheduled flight of a major international airline and there was nothing, apart from the occupational risk of flying, to fear. So why was Kathleen so unaccountably and terribly afraid?

She was quite convinced that something had happened somewhere along the 5,000 mile route. She didn't know what or where it had happened but she was certain she knew when — at 11.45 that morning.

For at that moment something extraordinary had happened in the Davisons' kitchen. Crockery had shattered, utensils were thrown about as if by some explosion.

It was as though the echoes of some distant disaster had reverberated through time and space into this quiet and orderly home. And for want of a better explanation, that seemed to be exactly what had happened.

The truth was that disaster had overtaken Flight 358 from Delhi and Mrs Davison had somehow known about it long before far away ambulance bells began to ring and the grim rituals of rescue began.

Was it all coincidence? Or had that sort of phenomenon happened too often to be dismissed merely as chance?

Today scientists are beginning to investigate the strange ways in which objects apparently move when not subject to any known physical force. They call it psychokinesis - PK for short.

Mrs Davison had rushed from her house as furniture rocked and cutlery fell to the ground. But there had been no explosion and not even the next-door neighbours had felt or heard anything unusual.

Kathleen Davison would remember: "I just hoped that if anything had happened he would be able to free himself and not be trapped. I have always had a claustrophobic fear of being trapped in fire."

At 11.25am the flight with over 100 passengers on board was flying up the backbone of France towards Paris' Orly Airport, the last stop before London.

Robert Davison, travelling near the back of the plane, looked out from a window as the plane descended from the clouds and the outskirts of Paris could be seen. The stop at Orly was short and it wouldn't be long before he was home.

The plane turned and began the long descent to where the sun glinted on pale grey runways. Then it happened. Alarms began to ring and the cabin crew hurried to their emergency stations.

One of the port engines was on fire followed by an explosion in the fuselage which cut off all communication. There was no way the pilot could communicate his plight to Orly airport.

Struggling to control the plane, the crew now flying the plane by physical force, turned it towards an emergency runway and began to descend, skimming treetops and making a crash-landing on waste ground at the edge of the airport, skidding along  the perimeter fence  and coming to rest against a cargo shed. By now, flames were licking against the windows.

Amid the screams and panic of dazed and injured passengers, Robert Davison lay stunned in his seat. As consciousness returned, some instinct prompted him to release his seatbelt while all around him inert victims lay still strapped into their seats.

Robert scrambled to his feet. As he did so, the plane turned over on its side, blocking half the emergency exits. By now some of the passengers with only minor injuries joined him in their search for a way to safety.

A hole had been torn in the plane body next to a wing and Robert helped a dozen passengers, mainly women and children through the gash, where firemen and rescue workers managed to reach them and guide them to safety.

Badly burned but alive, Robert Davison was taken to hospital as the airport struggled to deal with a major disaster. Tragically only 40 of the passengers and crew survived. The rest died in the flames that engulfed the plane and the explosions that followed.

When Kathleen Davison reached Heathrow, news of the disaster was already being relayed from Paris. She was horrified but not surprised. "It was almost a relief to be faced with the danger rather than anticipating it. Now came the worst part — waiting for news."

It took three hours for waiting families to be told the worst and the list of survivors was tragically short. But Robert Davison was among them.

Two weeks later he was flown home and spent another month in hospital where plastic surgery repaired much of the damage to his face and body.

Eventually time diminished most of the terror that the crash brought to Robert and his wife. They had plenty of time to reflect on the events of that day, things that can't be explained in rational terms.

But Kathleen Davison is not over-concerned about that. "My husband lived when so many around him died," she said. "To me that was all that mattered."

Share 

 Rate this Article
Rates : 0, Average : 0

Share more.

Post a Comment

Did you like this section? Leave a comment!
Your Name : Your Email Address :
Your Comment :
Enter Image Text:
 
No Comments Posted