Friday, February 19, 2010

The Ghost of Flight 401













(Above. That's Loft on the left and Repo on the right)

I’m totally giving away my age when I say, I recall when this made-for-tv horror movie “The Ghost of Flight 401” (I believe it's easier to find on VHS) came out in 1978. Starring Ernest Borgnine, Kim Bassinger and many other familiar 70s faces, this movie had a huge urban legend surrounding it.

Was there ever a flight 401 that started an airplane haunting?

The movie premise: An aircraft crashes in the Florida Everglades, killing 103 passengers. After the wreckage is removed, salvageable parts from the plane are used to repair other aircraft. Soon passengers and crew on those aircraft report seeing what they believe to be the ghost of the wrecked airplane's flight engineer.

Here’s some info I got on the true story here:

On the night of Friday, December 29th, 1972 Eastern Airlines Flight 401 was carrying 176 people as it neared it's destination of the Miami Airport. Flying the L - 1011 jumbo jet were Captain Bob Loft and Second Officer Don Repo, who were engaged in routine landing procedures when a warning light flashed on the control panel indicating a problem with the landing gear. It is possibly that this is the reason neither of them noticed that the plane was actually descending around 200 feet per minute faster than what they thought. Seconds later the airliner slammed into the Florida Everglades, killing 101 people immedietly. Both Captain Loft and Officer Repo survived the initial impact, but both were mortally wounded. Captain Loft died before he could be pulled from the burning, twisted wreck and Officer Repo died a day later. The story of these men should have ended right there, but this was not to be the case. Eastern Airlines salvaged much of the stricken airplane and redistributed them among similar aircraft in their fleet.

Soon, reports of ghostly hauntings began to come in from the planes who had received spare parts from Flight 401. Most of the apparitions were reported by Eastern's crew members, especially those on one particular plane of the airline's fleet. Repo's ghost appeared frequently, both in the cockpit as well as in the galley, the area where flight attendants prepared passengers meals. He seemed to be especially concerned with flight safety, and reportedly fixed a faulty oven circuit on one occasion. In other instances, he pointed out a potential fire hazard and a hydraulic leak.

Loft's ghost was also seen on various flights, usually sitting in first class or in the crews cabin. A stewardess once confronted Loft, asking what he was doing on the plane as she had not seen him board and could not identify him on the passenger manifest. Receiving no reply, she reported it to her flight captain. He walked back with her and recognized Loft, who disappeared immediately in front of a dozen people!!! The airline was (at least outwardly) a bit skeptical of people who reported the sightings, and suggested that they seek psychiatric counseling at the company's expense. Nevertheless, skeptical or not, the airline removed all of the salvaged parts of the ill - fated Flight 401 from the aircraft they had been put into. The paranormal sightings ended with that. Eventually, the sightings were turned into a best selling book by newspaper reporter John G. Fuller.


I’d love to open a discussion (as I usually do) about whether you believe this sort of haunting could occur and why.

15 comments:

  1. I remember this crash, lived in south florida at the time. Sure, I think this sort of haunting is possible. Why should ghosts be confined to houses?

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  2. I don't rmemeber that movie. Where was I? Sounds like something I would've loved to see. I'll see if i can rent that one.

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  3. There were a slew of those that came out around the same time; "Killdozer," "Bay Coven," "Brotherhood of Satan." It was a regularly weekly thing to get a new horror movie made-for-tv. It might have been the influences of shows like Fantasy Island and Love Boat, but they tended to star-fill the made-for-tv movies. Easy bucks for actors, no doubt.

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  4. Ernest Borgnine!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I've been watching my Airwolf DVDs a lot recently...Ernest Borgnine is so awesome. I saw him in a couple of interviews on youtube recently too...he's in his 90s now, but he doesn't look much older than he did when he was in Airwolf. He's still very alert and coherent too.

    Interesting story about the hauntings. I think it could occur. I suppose if a ghost wanted to hang around an airplane, it could. Why it would want to, I'm not sure.

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  5. You know, I remember seeing Ernie in "Poseidon Adventure" and thinking "this dude is going to drop from a heart attack any minute...(that was, what? 35 years ago??) I wonder what the secret is to his longevity?

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  6. It's funny you ask that...in one of the interviews I saw him in, someone asked him what his secret was and he told them.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oEhKZNQlJrY

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  7. I remember the crash and the movie. I believe both men felt they were somewhat at fault for their crash and used the objects from their former plane as a portal to either communicate their sorrow or help save lives.

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  8. Jeff;
    He's a hoot! Hmmm... best to get started at it for a long life--Ernie says so!

    James;
    It is intriguing. I know as someone who reads objects that metal holds emotion the best. I'm not certain how exactly objects embed memories, if it's from vicinity or actual body contact, though the things I read are worn near the body of people---jewelry usually, but I have read the walls and floors of houses that hold memories, so really there's no reason the parts wouldn't hold memories. Whether they would actually have souls attached to them--that's a pretty interesting concept. We had a few debates about that when the movie came out. I still find it an exciting discussion.

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  9. flight 401 crashed because no one was flying the plane when they had a problem. as for the ghosts, it has intrigued me into reading all reports on 401 (n310ea). i believe it did happen. read the book (fuller) they contacted repo on quija board.he gave info only his wife knew. antonhendrix@gmail.com

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  10. you need to check your facts- 99 died, 2 in hosp. 101 total.

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  11. Thanks Joe. Ultimately, that amount died. Yes, two did linger.

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  12. I remember seeing the actual news footage of the crash the day after it happened. Again a series of events that contibuted to an air disaster. I was a teenager at the time and my father worked for National Airlines, Eastern's biggest competitor, they flew the DC-10 the Tristar's competition. I used to hang aroung La Guardia Airport a lot and actually heard Eastern F/A's talk about the sightings. Never was believer till then. Love to see the movie again. Read the book avidly when it came out in 76. The L1011 was a vastly better plane than the 10 just poor crew management over a managable problem. Knowing how level headed aviation folks are this made me believe in the supernatural.

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  13. I remember seeing the movie as a kid (showing my age too here) and thought it was a interesting concept. But in the mid 1980's I came across a simular story second hand. While stationed in Germany I attended an Army school (PLDC) at the 7th Army NCO Academy in Bad Toelz. A few months earlier a friend of my had been polishing the brass fittings on a display sink (one of many ritual duties they gave us to keep us busy) and looked up into the mirror in front of his sink to see a man in a dark outfit standing behind him. When he turned around to see who had come in the room he found no one there. Because it was late he figured that he was just getting tired and had imagined it. When he went back to work on the brass fitting he got a funny feeling and looked up at the mirror again. This time he not only saw a man standing behind him, but recognized his outfit as the black dress uniform of an SS German Officer. When he spun around and saw that there was no one there he immediately left the room and reported to the Staff Duty NCO. After telling his story he was told that such sightings were not uncommon and that he'd be reassigned a different duty for the rest of his stay at the school. Several months later I attended the school course. While going through the introduction briefing we were informed that this building was used as a hospital for some of the more seriously wounded SS Officers near the end of the war. Numerous sightings had been documented since then. I mentioned that one of my friends had recently attended this course and told the class about his experience. The instructer told me to tell my friend that the mirror he had seen the SS Officer in had been removed from the schoolhouse. I later found out that that mirror it had the original fixtures dating back to that period. I immediately remembered this movie at discovering that fact. Gave me chills at time.

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  14. James, it's amazing how that happens. I have an old clock from my family's home in Norway. When I was a kid, it sat upon my father's dresser and inside it had tucked away a photo of him as a child in Norway with his family. I inherited the clock and would often open it and look at the photo in the same ritual my father did. One day, out of curiosity, I wondered if this clock from WWI era still ran. I plugged it in and it started ticking. I was amazed, but unsure about keeping it plugged in given the age of the wiring. But, for fun, I opened the door and pulled out the picture to look at it and when I looked up, I saw a room I'd never seen before, nothing was familiar. I got scared and put the picture back in and unplugged the clock. Years later, a relative sent me the wedding photos of my grandmother from the Norway family home. It was precisely the same room I saw, including the paintings hung up high, the trim, everything. I saw a moment into a past that the clock was in and perhaps a viewpoint my grandmother once had. Very amazing!

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  15. There is a true story of the supernatural floating about the internet, by the same name. (A true story of the supernatural). I know the guy who wrote it, and his brother, whom it relates to. Knowing them, I would have to say they are not making it up. The author assured me it was true, and I've no reason to doubt him.

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