I am a fan of Aircrash Investigation and was watching the episode detailing the tragic crash of Eastern Airlines Flight 401 into the Florida
Everglades in 1972. The programme took it's usual format of reconstruction and the subsequent investigation, until the final segment where it
mentioned some rather bizarre phenomena that happened after the crash, where other aircraft in the Eastern Airlines fleet were seemingly haunted by
the deceased pilot and flight engineer of Flight 401.
I was fascinated by this and started doing some googling and turned up some very interesting information. I immediately searched ATS as I was sure
there must be a thread on here somewhere about it, but only found a couple of references in another thread about Ghosts Flying Planes
Credit to Dock9 who provided a lot of other interesting information on that thread
about deceased World War 2 pilots. However, the thread is from 2006 and I don't think it really got the attention it deserved, so I thought I would
start a thread dedicated to the alleged ghosts of flight 401.
The crash was caused by a malfunctioning lightbulb, that distracted the crew prior to landing and although the autopilot had been activated, it seemed
that the Captain had inadvertently de-activated the autopilot, and the crew had been unaware that the aircraft was losing altitude. As the plane
crashed in the Everglades, it did not completely disintegrate and there were many parts that were salvaged and returned to Eastern Airlines for use on
other aircraft. It was after these parts were used on other aircraft, that the strange haunting phenomena began. There are several sources for the
information, but here is a reasonably detailed one below
Perhaps the most extraordinary and credible research into the ghost phenomenon ever documented is the so-called "Ghosts of Flight 401." On
December of 1972, an Eastern Airlines Tri-Star jetliner, Flight 401, crashed into a Florida swamp. The pilot, Bob Loft (on the left), and flight
engineer Don Repo (on the right), were two of the 101 people who perished in the air crash. Not long after the crash, the ghosts of Loft and Repo were
seen on more than twenty occasions by crew members on other Eastern Tri-Stars, especially those planes which had been fitted with parts salvaged from
the Flight 401 wreckage. The apparitions of Loft and Repo were invariably described as being extremely lifelike. They were not only reported by people
who had known Loft and Repo, but their ghosts were also subsequently identified from photographs by people who had not known Loft and Repo.
The strange tales of the ghostly airmen of Flight of 401 circulated in the airline community. An account of the paranormal happenings even appeared in
a 1974 US Flight Safety Foundation's newsletter. John G. Fuller, the best-selling author of The Ghost of Flight 401, carried out an exhaustive
investigation into the hauntings with the aid of several cautious airline personnel. A mass of compelling testimony was produced as a result. The
website Flight 401 – The Black Box Story provides an account of the crash as told using material from the Black Box. It highlights how poor cockpit
resource management caused a tiny light bulb to distract the pilots and bring down a Tristar jetliner.
The cause of the crash was found to be a couple of minor design faults in the controls, and Lockheed rapidly corrected them. However, it was after
some of the undamaged parts of the aircraft were subsequently recycled onto other planes that the mysterious incidents began to be reported.
Although Eastern Airlines refuses to discuss the matter, researchers have interviewed numerous individuals claiming to have encountered the ill-fated
pair on L-1011s. As the reports would have it, Loft and Repo have devoted their after-lives to watching over the passengers and crew of these Lockheed
Many of the testimonies are extremely persuasive. Many come from people in highly responsible positions: pilots, flight officers, even a vice
president of Eastern Airlines, who allegedly spoke with a captain he assumed was in charge of the flight, before recognizing him as the late Loft.
Other sightings are convincing because they have multiple witnesses. A flight's captain and two flight attendants claim to have seen and spoken to
Loft before take-off and watched him vanish - an experience that left them so shaken they cancelled the flight.
One female passenger made a concerned enquiry to a flight attendant regarding the quiet, unresponsive man in Eastern Airlines uniform sitting in the
seat next to her, who subsequently disappeared in full view of both of them and several other passengers, leaving the woman hysterical. When later
shown a sheet of photos depicting Eastern flight engineers, she identified Repo as the officer she had seen.
Another incident occurred when one of the L-1011 passenger planes that had been fitted with salvaged parts was due for take-off. The flight engineer
was mid-way through carrying out the routine pre-flight inspection when Repo appeared to him and said, "You don't need to worry about the pre-flight,
I've already done it."
Repo and Loft are apparently not content merely to be present on these airplanes. Often their style is far more hands on, particularly in Repo's case.
Aside from his appearance to a pre-flight engineer who he appeared to have been assisting, there is testimony from a flight attendant who observed a
man in a flight engineer's uniform, whom she later recognized as Repo, fixing a galley oven. The insistence of the plane's own flight engineer that he
had not fixed the oven, and that there had not been another engineer on board, would seem to lend weight to her claim. Repo was also seen in the
compartment below the cockpit by a flight engineer who had accessed it in order to investigate a knocking he heard coming from there.
On another occasion, Faye Merryweather, a flight attendant, saw Repo's face looking out at her from an oven in the galley of Tri-Star 318.
Understandably alarmed, she fetched two colleagues, one of whom was the flight engineer who had been a friend of Repo's and recognized him instantly.
All three heard Repo warn them to, "Watch out for fire on this airplane." The plane later encountered serious engine trouble and the last leg of its
flight was cancelled. It is interesting to note that the galley of Tri-Star 328 had been salvaged from the wreckage of flight 401.
The sightings were all reported to the Flight Safety Foundation (an independent authority) which commented: "The reports were given by experienced and
trustworthy pilots and crew. We consider them significant. The appearance of the dead flight engineer (Repo) ... was confirmed by the flight
engineer." Later, records of the Federal Aviation Agency recorded the fire which broke out on that same aircraft.
One of the vice-presidents of Eastern Airlines boarded a Miami-bound TriStar at JFK airport and spoke to a uniformed captain sitting in First Class.
Suddenly, he recognized the captain was Loft, at which point the apparition vanished.
Another incident occurred when Repo appeared to a captain and told him, "There will never be another crash. We will not let it happen."
A female passenger found herself sitting next to an Eastern Airlines flight officer who looked pale and ill, but would not speak; she called a
stewardess but before the eyes of several people, the man disappeared. The woman was later shown photographs of Eastern Airlines engineers and she
identified the man as Repo.
Unfortunately, further research into the well-witnessed paranormal incidents was severely hampered by the airline company which steadfastly refused to
co-operate with the ghost investigators.
I really do believe that all of those who witnessed these paranormal events were being totally truthful in their accounts with several of the
witnesses being flight crew, who would be unlikely to be fooled or make things up, and it is such a shame that Eastern Airlines were so determined to
cover up these events. Unfortunately that means that none of the witnesses were prepared to be named. However, it seems that Eastern Airlines then
removed all of the salvaged parts from the haunted aircraft and the paranormal activity ceased.
Here is a link to the Aircrash Investigation reconstruction videos for
Overall though this is a fascinating account and could have provided an opportunity to fully investigate paranormal activity, but unfortunately
Eastern Airlines blocked all attempts to investigate the matter and instead warned employees not to discuss their experiences. But I think these
events do provide proof of the existence of ghosts and moreso answers the question about how ghosts appear as it seemed that all of those who
witnessed the events saw the deceased pilot and engineer as solid, normal people...until they vanished in front of their eyes!
Anyway, I realise that there is not much more that people can add to the discussion, but I just thought I'd create the thread for information, so
hopefully you'll all enjoy the story as much as I did.
edit on 30-6-2011 by dbates because: changed quote tag to ex tag