Haunted Aircraft, Airports and Museums

Industry insiders have long told tales of haunted hangers, airports and aircraft; Here’s a spirited look at just a few of the many occurrences documented around the web. Sadly, it seems that the sanctuary offered by altitude won’t keep ghosts away.

If you have your own story, please share it in the comments.

The Ghosts of Flight 401

In the months following the crash of Eastern Airlines Flight 401 into the swamps of the Florida Everglades, employees began seeing Captain Robert Loft and Flight Engineer Donald Repo sitting on board other L-1011 flights. It’s suggested that parts from the downed Tristar were salvaged and used on other company aircraft — and the ghosts apparently appeared only on those aircraft (particularly N318EA). Crew claim that the ghosts were ‘lifelike’ (often seating themselves in the cabin) and occasionally acted erratically as if they were drawing attention to potential safety hazards.

There are literally dozens of reported sightings by crew that knew the pilots, often with multiple witnesses for the same occurrence. The captain and a flight attendant of one flight claimed to have seen and spoken to Bob Loft whilst preparing for take-off. During conversation, he vanished. The crew cancelled the flight. Another time, a cabin crew member saw the face of a man looking at her in an oven reflection. Flight crew came to assist and immediately identified the presence as Don Repo. “Watch out for fire on this airplane”, he said, as he vanished. The following day, a fire did indeed break out on that aircraft originating from the galley. The oven was reportedly salvaged from Flight 401.

Another occurrence, and as depicted in a television movie that details some of the mile-high spookiness, involved a first class passenger breaking into hysterics because of a man dressed in a pilots uniform that vanished before her. She later immediately identified Don Repo from a number of photographs.

There’s at least one documented case where three crew (two cabin crew and one pilot) tried to communicate with an apparition in a lower deck. The pilot, a good friend of Donald Repo, claims that he could be clearly identified.

Many profess that the spirits were haunted by the accident and continued on board to watch over the flight crew. In fact, Repo appeared before one Captain and told him that there wouldn’t be another L-1011 crash because “he wouldn’t let that happen”. When some of the aircraft eventually found their way into the Delta fleet, stories continued but were far less frequently. It seems Delta weren’t worthy of a regular haunting.

410 crash site

Eastern CEO and former Apollo 8 Commander, Frank Borman, issued a letter to all crew demanding that they stop telling ghostly tales in fear that it would impact upon business. He later sued the makers of the television movie – The Ghost of Flight 401 – for deformation claiming that they used his airline for the purpose of a fictitious brand assassination. Still, he later ordered that the salvaged spares that were installed on other Tristar aircraft in the fleet to be removed and destroyed. Shortly after, the Vice-president of Eastern Airlines reported that he conversed with a Captain that he assumed was in command of his aircraft. Later, he identified the man as the deceased Bob Loft.

Two published books document the sighting while two television movies were made that surrounded the mystery. The haunting was further popularized by way of a song performed by Bob Welch, titled “The Ghost of Flight 401 .”

Last December was the 40-year anniversary of the Flight 401 crash.

North East Aircraft Museum

There are numerous tales from visitors from the NE Aircraft Museum in the UK. Three ghosts regularly taunt staff and visitors – particularly at night. The Northern Ghost Investigations team regularly visit the ghosts and have documented hundreds of occurrences.

Here’s one part of a series of videos from YouTube.

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The Casino Royale Ghost

Crew from the Casino Royale movie were hesitant to work on an ex-South African Airways 747 used as a set because of a female ghost that was said to wander the aisles at night. It wasn’t uncommon for the Jumbo’s aisle lights to turn themselves on and off (without power) while secured gallery doors would open and slam in a controlled environment. Crew later identified the ghost as a woman that had suffered a heart attack while the aircraft was in service with SAA.

The Ghosts of American Airlines Flight 191

On May 25, 1979, an American Airlines McDonnell Douglas DC-10, Flight 191 was scheduled to fly from O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, to Los Angeles International Airport. Shortly after V1, the engine assembly completely separated from the aircraft causing extensive damage to the hydraulic system. The aircraft crashed moments after takeoff. All 258 passengers and 13 crew on board were killed, along with two people on the ground.

According to one person I spoke to, this is one crash site that has to be visited to understand the eerie nature of the surrounding landscape. It’s claimed that at certain times, the temperature will suddenly drop and be followed by very identifiable screams from within an open field.

Motorists on a nearby highway claim that the side of the road is often occupied by strange floating lights and haunting figures. Some local residents report knocking on their doors and other unexplained phenomena around their homes. According to some reports, some residents were confronted by lost figures at their homes that said that they “had to find their luggage” or “had to make a connection” before disappearing.

One local Chicago company takes ghost-hunters to the crash site where they camp out nearby. Numerous photographs and video are evidence to the claims made.

The Singapore Girl

Cabin crew from Singapore airways were often terrified to work on a few 747’s because of a known defect – haunting spirits! It’s said that the ghosts would wander up and down the aisles – often getting angry and interrupting crew by slamming doors and throwing cutlery around the galley. Their ‘origin’ was never identified.

Virgin Spirit

A former Virgin Atlantic flight attendant told me first hand of her ‘close encounter’. She was interrupted by an elderly man in the lonely forward gallery near the stairs on a Jumbo. He insisted she pass a message that contained a series of numbers onto a female passenger, and let her know that he was okay. Terrified by his demeanour and appearance, she complied. She passed the message onto a lady seated in economy who was shocked at what she’d been told. She pulled out a photograph from her wallet and asked if it was the man that approached her. The man that appeared before the flight attendant was deceased, and he was being transported back to the UK in the cargo hold of the aircraft that they were in. The series of numbers were to a bank account the lady didn’t have access to.

There are a number of variants of this story. This one comes from the flight attendant involved. To this day, she’ll avoid being alone while flying.

Constellation International Airlines Scairbus

An A320, registration OO-COL, and operated by the Belgian charter airline Constellation International Airlines, came to be known within the fleet as the Scairbus (play on a common term).

The occurrences began when a flight attendant called in sick midway through her pre-flight checks. While driving home, and after a replacement was found, she was killed in a car accident. On subsequent flights, several flight attendants reported hearing her voice scream for help… and at other times she would whisper into the ears of other cabin crew in the rear galley. From that point on, the aircraft was renowned for ongoing and often unexplained technical problems.

The Queanbeyan Ghosts

At a point in my life when I frequented Canberra on overnights, I was personally coerced into visiting the memorial of an RAAF Lockheed Hudson bomber that crashed near Queanbeyan on the 13th August 1940 (about 2.5nm and 10 minutes drive from Canberra Airport). The Hudson stalled while circling to land in “ideal weather conditions” killing a number of public servants including, ironically, the Minister for Air and Civil Aviation.

I reluctantly agreed to go on this ghostly tour after finishing quite late at night. In a packed car we drove towards what’s known as the Air Disaster Memorial. It’s essentially a granite boulder set in a circular bed of loose gravel with a low concrete wall – not far from suburbia, and not far from the site of the actual crash.

There was no need to announce our arrival. The temperature dropped suddenly, the car’s engine began to cough for no reason and the clutch began to slip (an experience shared by many). We didn’t need to encourage the driver to escape the area – he did that by himself. Our egress was painfully slow because the fully serviceable clutch seemingly couldn’t grip enough to pull us away while the engine balanced on the verge of a stall. It was the chilling feeling that spooked us more than the reaction of the car. We actually didn’t quite realise we’d hit the right spot until we pulled away from the infamous stretch of road.

These stories are commonplace from Queanbeyan locals. Many say that if you stop your car on a cattle-grid (a corrugated area designed to prevent cattle from migrating from one farm to the next) a nurse will come running to your vehicle and try and get it (apparently a nurse that was involved with the rescue effort). Others have reported that if you stop your vehicle on the grid your car will almost certainly stall. Many have reported having their windscreen smashed for no reason while others report objects thrown at their car from the kerb. Others claim to have seen figures float rapidly across the road.

Even the most sceptical of locals avoid the area… and for good reason — It’s terrifying. I will never go back.

Tenerife

One pilot I regularly flew with (until quite recently) spent considerable time flying in and out of Tenerife in the Canary Islands. In March 1977, 583 fatalities were recorded when a KLM and Pan Am 747 collided on the runway.

My friend was adamant that the spirits of the long departed would discriminately appear in large numbers on the Tenerife tarmac. He claims that he’s delayed two takeoffs because of what he thought were figures on the runway waving their hands as if to warn departing aircraft of impending danger. Shortly after telling me these long and involved stories he left the cockpit for an anti-DVT stretch in the cabin. Those lonely minutes over the middle of the night Pacific left me with goose bumps the size of marbles.

Heathrow’s Dick Turpin

Heathrow is not only the largest airport in the world in terms of passenger numbers; it’s also got the highest incident of reported cases of paranormal activity.

Dick Turpin was a robin-hood-style highwayman in the 1730’s. He was often revered by the poor for stealing from the rich. The reality was different. He was a cruel criminal that would set people on fire, he raped and tortured female captives and no regard for human life. When the psychopath was eventually brought before the gallows, he approached the noose with a smile before giving female onlookers a bow. He jumped to his own death off the shallow gallows and died after 5 minutes of slow strangulation.

Many have reported to see Dick. Wearing a tri-cornered hat, he’s said to bard, scream, moan and shout at employees during quiet times of the night. Night time staff often report feeling and hearing a distinct breath on the back of their neck while they work. He’s not a friendly ghost; on Christmas Eve in 2004 a young female agent working for a British Carrier was said to be dragged along the ticket counters by her hair. Countless onlookers saw her dragged backward – legs motionless – as she furiously tried to defend an attacker that wasn’t there.

The ghost or Turpin is said to be identified by the fact he wears a large black overcoat. The same ghost has been sighted on a black stallion that manifests both inside and outside the terminal.

The Man with a Briefcase (Heathrow)

In 1948, a DC3 Dakota from Belgian Airlines crashed while on approach to Runway 28 Right. Rescue workers were tending to casualties when a man suddenly appeared and asked for his briefcase. He then vanished into the fog. Workers later identified the same man in the wreckage. Heathrow staff often reporting seeing the “man with a briefcase” wandering aimlessly around the terminal. At times, it’s said that only the lower part of his body would manifest.

The same ghost is said to wander the halls of Heathrow at night. Staff at various VIP lounges say that he will seat himself at lounges in a neat dress-suit as though he’s simply waiting around for a flight.

Sasa Airport, Davao City, Philippines

Philippines’ once bustling Save Airport is now a semi-abandoned refuge to a homeless families and local engineers working on a nearby project. Those occupants of the airport say that there is crying, moaning and screaming throughout the night. Ghostly sightings are apparently a regular occurrence. Residents believe that the spirits are related to the airport bombing in March 2003 where 21 people died.

Denver International Airport – Denver, Colorado

Denver is the USA’s largest international airport. As such, it’s the home to countless ghostly rumors.

A very large number of passengers and staff report hearing, seeing and feeling odd occurrences at Denver. Many claim that the hauntings continue to follow you once you’ve left the building (not a happy thought when you’re about to board an aircraft). Believed to be built on a Native American burial site, it’s possible that the haunts are Indian spirits upset about the disturbance. The assault of sightings are said to have begun when the airport started playing Indian chants on a loop near the pedestrian bridge linking Concourse A and the Jeppesen Terminal building. In April 1995, spiritual leaders performed a ceremony in an attempt to put the spirits at rest.

A 32-foot-tall sculpture (“Mustang “) stands as a testament to the artist that died while creating it – Luis Jimenez. He is said to continue watching over it with numerous sightings of the man over the years. Some that have taken their photo in front of the statue say that Jimenez’ hazy outline can be seen alongside the subject as if to be posing.

Denver is the home to a number of other conspiracy theories. An underground tunnel network, initially designed as a baggage distribution network, is said to be the corridor network of a larger scale underground facility designed for an apocalypse (fuelled by unusual and somewhat disturbing artwork in the terminal depicting rather confronting and controversial images of war. At least two images depict children of the world dressed in authentic native costumes of approximately 26 countries overcoming the forces of evil and destruction.). A time capsule is covered by a plaque that reads “New World Airport Commission” – evidence to some that the airport is connected in some way to an alien-friendly New World Order.

Archerfield Airport, Australia

There are at least two possible sources for the ghosts that haunt those at Archerfield Airport.

An airmen was deployed on a mission on March 27 1943 to fly to Sydney to pick up radar equipment. Shortly after takeoff, the C47 Dakota he was piloting rolled onto its side, crashed into trees and came to rest in nearby swampland killing all 32 on board. It’s said by many that the pilot can be seen dressed in uniform and cap holding a deployed parachute. The RAAF pilot is said to smile and wave at those that pass by.

Airport General Manager, Corrie Metz, says that the sightings “may be related to the original owners of the land the airport is built on”. A small cemetery called “God’s Acre” – where the original Grenier family owners were laid to rest – is still maintained by airport staff. The sightings of a boy on a horse are said to be 16-year-old, Volney Grenier, who was buried in the plot after he was killed in a horse riding accident in 1859.

I don’t think there’s a single resident of Archerfield that doesn’t have a story to tell of phantom aircraft, strange individuals and groups of people wandering the hangers at night, and unexplained movement and/or lights.

Sacramento International Airport

Mr. Tibble died on October 5, 1982 of a heart attack while seated in a waiting area for his flight. It’s said that he sat uninterrupted long after he’d passed away (his flight left without him). After a number of crew and staff changes, one attendant tried to wake him up without success: he was dead. After reading countless accounts on the web, I found a reference to a Los Angeles resident Derek Tibble that died on that day in Sacramento. He was waiting for a flight to NYC (not London as is often reported).

Airport staff claim that Mr. Tibble continues to haunt the airport as if he’s still waiting around for his flight – often sitting in the same chair that comforted him during his death.

Okinawa, Japan

According to author Jayne Hitchcock, Okinawa, Japan is crawling with ghosts. She tells the story of a US GI from WWII that would frequent the old Makiminato gate 2 (now a base gate on Hwy 58) each Friday and Saturday night in full combat gear. He would approach with a cigarette and ask for a light. After the gate guard lit the cigarette, the GI would disappear into thin air.

The gate doesn’t exist anymore but, according to paranormal researchers, the GI does. There are countless tales floating around the web telling the same story.

Most of the tales coming from Okinawa tend to suggest that whatever presence there is trapped in a time-loop. The apparitions of a woman washing her hair in a sink, the samurai riding a horse and the visions of the cleaner scrubbing a floor – not unlike our smoking GI – tend to repeat themselves in the same way to different people over many years.

Air Force Ghosts

There are countless instances where Air Force personnel have reported seeing ghosts – many of them coming to aid in times of combat and/or need. Other stories are less contained and a little more bizzare .

Take, for example, the T-43 training jet with tail number 1512. There are at least a few stories on the web where crew have detailed an encounter with a former crew chief that had suffered a heart attack in that same aircraft back in 1982. Crew believe that it’s “just a dedicated crew chief who’s still on the job.”

Aircraft in museums are also well known for haunting by the pilots that originally flew the machines. One notable example is the Haunted Avro Lincoln at Cosford RAF Museum. Originally designed as a hoax to illicit attention, attract visitors and prevent the aircraft from making its way to other location, the aircraft was later investigated by a BBC team and paranormal investigator. They recorded numerous noises in the aircraft consistent with noises that you would expect during crew in preparation and pre-flight checks.

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Next time you hear a moan in the cabin, think twice before assuming it’s a creaking fuselage or air-conditioning duct. If you feel a breath of cold air, it may not necessarily be the ice-box.

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3 comments

  1. Pingback: The eerie mystery of flight 401

  2. Pingback: The eerie mystery of flight 401 | TimeOutPk

  3. DONALYN REPO

    I am the daughter of DON REPO ( GHOST OF FLIGHT 401). I have his metal baggage tag that was recovered from the aircraft wreckage & have to sell it. Do you know of anyone that would be interested in purchasing it? I also have a 2-page letter from Ernest Borgnine, hand written, that he wrote to my mother re: filming of “The Ghost of Flight 401” in which he
    played my father. This letter may also be of interest to some collector.
    Thank You.
    Sincerely, DONALYN REPO

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