January 27, 2023

By Ahmet Abdulaziz

Usually, I do not take the luck matter very seriously. I am a practical man, so I believe that we get what we deserve. But sometimes I come across events that make me realise that indeed there is something called good luck or bad luck.

I was just going through some old news when I came across a news item dated 20th May 1965.

It was the news about a tragic air crash of PK705, Boeing 720 of Pakistan International Airlines, in which 121 passengers and crew lost their lives. and 6 passengers had come out of the crashed plane alive.

It was the inaugural flight of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), from Karachi to London, via Dharan (Saudi Arabia), Cairo (Egypt) and Geneva. There were 6 members of crew on board. I was about 10 years old then, but I still remember the details of the crash.

The interesting point was that since it was an inaugural flight the management of PIA had decided to take journalists from Pakistani press and some tour agents free of charge. Thus the passengers of this fated aircraft mostly included free riders. The idea of the PIA management was to provide a chance to the local tour operators to come in contact with foreign tour operators to flourish Pakistan tourism. The journalists were also taken on board so that they would be able to write their observations about foreign countries and also about the performance of the airline.

Everything went as pre-planned. The flight had taken a short break at Dharan (Saudi Arabia), and had taken off for Cairo, to be the next stop. While descending for landing at the Cairo airport, the pilot reported a problem with the flaps. The plane crashed near the airport. Out of 127 onboard, only 6 people survived.

Recently on the internet I collected some old news and articles about the same crash and found some interesting material, worthy of being mentioned here. This particular incident proved that there indeed is something which has been considered as luck, good or otherwise. A newspaper editor, who had arrived quite late at the Karachi airport, missed the plane. He did have arguments at the airport, to allow him to board the plane, which had not yet taken off but had closed the door. He had tried to contact higher officials to help him in this regard but had failed. He had returned back home, thinking that it was his bad luck that he had missed a chance for a free foreign tour. The next morning when he learned  that the plane had crashed, he realised that it was in fact his good luck and not bad luck.

The six passengers of economy class, who had survived the crash, were sitting on the last row of the fuselage, which had broken away at the time of the crash, along with the tail. Thus the tail and the last row of seats had remained intact and did not catch fire.

One of the Pakistani tour operators, who was also on board the plane, had wanted to take his wife along free of charge, but the PIA management had refused to do so. So at the last moment, he bought a first class ticket for his wife, whereas he was travelling in the economy class of the same plane, along with other journalists with free passes.

PIA_Boeing_720_at_LHR photo Courtesy of Ken Fielding at flickr.com photos kenfielding

He had spent some time talking to his wife in the first class section of the plane when the plane had stopped at Dharan airport. After the plane had taken off from Dharan, he found another friend of his sitting in his seat. He forcibly sent him back to his seat and sat in his own seat, in the last row.

When the plane crashed, the same tour operator, sitting on his seat in the last row survived, whereas his wife sitting in the first class and his journalist friend had died. Good luck for the man, and bad luck for his wife and the journalist friend.

I think we all come across such situations when our luck plays some part in the achievement of our goals.

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