To add to the ghosts stories, I gathered this up on the Usenet about Flt# 401, which was a story I read about 20 years ago as a kid. Bought the book when it came out and of course I saw the made-for-tv movie.
Late in the evening of 29 December 1972 a Lockheed L-1011 wide-body aircraft crashed in the Florida Everglades with considerable loss of life amongst both crew and passengers. It marked the start of one of the most extraordinary tales of ghostly protection of modern times.
Even before the crash there had been a remarkable example of precognition concerning one of the airline's stewardesses, some two weeks before the flight. She described to her colleagues that she had a premonition, and had seen an L-1011 coming in over the everglades on a flight approach to Miami International late at night; she had seen the left wing crumble and the fuselage smashing into the ground; she also heard the cries of the injured. Asked when it was going to happen, she said, "Around the holidays, closer to New Year." Her colleagues asked her if they were going to be the crew and the stewardess replied, "No, but it's going to be real close." It was only a last-minute change of flight assignment which prevented that stewardess and her colleagues being the crew of flight 401 which was to fulfil her premonition.
However, it was after the crash and the death of the crew that 'protective' ghosts came into the story. Following the incident, the ghosts of Captain Bob Loft and the flight engineer, Second Officer Don Repo, appeared in several instances on identical aircraft, usually ones which had requisitioned recycled parts from the crashed L-1011.
The following is a selection of the apparitions as noted in G. Fuller's book The Ghost of Flight 401:
At John F. Kennedy Airport where an L-1011 was being turned around for a flight to Miami it was reported that the vice-president of Eastern Airlines who had boarded the plane ahead of the regular passengers spoke to an Eastern Airlines captain in uniform who was sitting in the First Class section. During the conversation the voce-president suddenly realized he was talking to Bob Loft, who had died in the earlier crash. At that point Loft simply vanished and disappeared. A search of the plane was made and no sign of the captain was found. The vise-president would not reveal his name.
At John F. Kennedy Airport again it was Captain Bob Loft who was seen by a captain and his two flight attendants. They apparently talked to him before he disappeared, causing the flight to be canceled. The captain also declined to give his name.
An unnamed flight attendant opened one of the overhead compartments during a check of the first class cabin and came eyeball-to-eyeball with Bob Loft's face. Another flight attendant at Miami opened a door in the galley oven compartment and saw the face of Second Officer Don Repo looking out at her.
While caterers were loading plane 318 (the most haunted of the L-1011s following the crash) there was a commotion when the catering crew left the plane saying thay wouldn't go back. Apparently they had seen the flight engineer standing in the galley and he had disappeared before their eyes, leaving them 'very excitable.'
During another flight of plane 318 a male voice came over the PA system announcing the seat-belt and no smoking precautions, yet no one on the crew had made the announcment and the PA system had not been in use.
During another flight of plane 318, from Atlanta to Miami, the crew heard a knocking coming from the 'hellhole' below the cockpit (which had been heavily implicated in the original crash of flight 401). The engineer went down into the cramped workspace and saw the face of Second Officer Don Repo looking at him.
A flight engineer doing the pre-flight inspection of an L-1011 saw a man in Eastern Airlines officer's uniform sitting in his seat at the engineering panel. The engineer recognised Don Repo and the apparition then said to him, "You don't need to worry about the pre-flight, I've already done it." The apperition then vanished in front of the engineer.
A stewardess in the lower galley of an L-1011 found that one oven indicated an overloaded circuit and a man in engineer's uniform appeared to fix it. Another flight engineer appeared later and insisted he was the only one on the plane. The flight attendent, looking at Don Repo's photograph, identified him as the engineer who had fixed the oven.
A female passenger in the First Class section of plane 318, which was still sitting on the runway, found herself sitting next to man in Eastern Airlines flight officer's uniform. The required head-count of passengers
had not yet taken place. The engineer apparently looked sick and pale and the passenger tried to speak to the man but he would not respond.The passenger called the stewardess who agreed that the man looked ill. Then, in front of several other passengers as well as these two, the flight engineer simply disappeared leaving the woman completly hysterical. Shown photgraphs of Eastern Flight engineers, she picked out Don Repo.
Aircraft 318, assigned designation Flight 903 from New York to Mexico City, was involved in another incident when a stewardess looking at the oven window saw the face of Don Repo looking out at her. The stewardess
called another and together they went back to the galley and also called an engineer from the flight deck. In the galley all three heard Repo speak to them, saying, "Watch out for fire on this airplane." Then he
disappeared. Although the plane reached Mexico City Safely it was on the next leg of the journey when one of the engines on the starboard wing would not start. Although the plane was cleared for take-off, at an
altitude of 50 feet one engine stalled and backfired several times, needing to be shut off immediately. The plane was brought back to the runway and taken out of service. The disassembly of the engine showed no reason whatsoever for its malfunction.
Following the incident, when the plane was overhauled its cockpit voice-recorder was removed. In his book, John Fuller asked why that should have been done since it could have nothing to do with a faulty engine. He speculates that it may have had to do with the rumors that parts were being removed from plane 318 because they were connected with the apparitions.
John Fuller undertook a ouija board experiment to contact the apparitions, with apparent success, and recieved two interesting messages from the ghost of Don Repo. One was the question, 'Did mice leave that family closet?' and the other, 'To go into waste basket pennies sit there boys room.' Fuller contacted Don Repo's daughter, Donna, and his wife, Alice, and the two apparently bizarre phrases were shown to have meaning. It seems that some mice had nested in the attic above the room they referred to as 'the family room' and despite Alice's son John setting traps they were hard to get rid of. The reference to the closet was resolved because access to the room was through the family room closet. Of the pennies Alice pointed out that Don Repo collected Indian Head pennies in a barrel which were in their son's room.
Legend also has it that Capt. Loft and Second Officer Repo are now watching over the L-1011.
Well, we know that Delta lost passengers in an L-1011 in Dallas in 1985. But since that was wind shear, an act of God, we can omit that one from the books and keep Loft's promise intact. The Saudi L-1011 where 301 perished did not crash but burned sitting one the ground after making a safe landing at Riyadh.
But the L-1011 has had many opportunities to crash in those years. But fate as been on her side. Especially considering the incident in 1983. An Eastern L-1011 should have bought it after losing all three engines returning to Miami from Nassau at 15,000 feet because of oil pressure loss to do mechanics not refitting o-rings after routine maintenance. The cabin crew addressed the passengers and informed then that ditching was imminent. Salvation came at 4,000 feet when one engine was restarted, with virtually no oil pressure, giving the L-1011 enough boost to make it to Miami International.
So maybe it is true. Maybe Loft and Repo are still watching over the L-1011 as those that fly it. No other L-1011 has crashed resulting in loss of life since that time. And that ambitious promise was made in 1972. All the other types in service at that time, and others that came later, have taken their toll on the flying public here and there all over the map in those intervening 28 years. But not the L-1011.
Give me an old, battered L-1011 for any flight on any day. With Capt. Loft and Second Officer Repo riding shotgun, you'll get there in one piece. It's guaranteed.
An optimist robs himself of the joy of being pleasantly surprised