While flying can be scary, it is not necessarily spooky. Here are five stories to change that: from disappearances to conspiracies to ghosts. Happy Halloween!
The haunted airline
On December 29, 1972, a Lockheed L-1011-1 TriStar of Eastern Airlines flight 401 crashed in South Florida. 101 of 176 people onboard died, including the entire cockpit crew. It was an aviation disaster of yet-unseen scale, and the one to be caused by a mere distraction: pilots were trying to fix a malfunctioning lightbulb and did not notice that the autopilot was disconnected.
As the crash was investigated and parts of the aircraft were collected, rumors began to spread. Some said that salvaged parts were used in other L-1011s, and that those parts were cursed. Pilots said they started to see ghosts, souls of dead Flight 401 crew members flying on airline’s airplanes. The airline tried to go after people spreading those stories, but it did not work. According to some accounts, eventually Eastern had to remove all the salvaged parts from their airliners trying to stop the haunting, although the aircraft themselves remained flying for a long time after that.
Plane of the dead
On August 14, 2005, Boeing 737 of Helios Airways was on its way to Athens from Cyprus. Shortly after the takeoff, cabin crew reported problems with air conditioning. Then, it stopped responding.
The silent, lifeless aircraft flew for 70 minutes through Greek airspace, until it ran out of fuel, veered to the side and crashed into hills. Hellenic Air Force pilots, scrambled to intercept the plane as soon as the contact was lost, said that through the cockpit windows they saw pilots collapsed on their controls.
The plane got depressurized after a mistake by ground crew, incapacitating everyone onboard as soon as they reached a certain altitude. Shortly before it hit the ground, a barely conscious flight attendant tried to take controls, but it was too late.
Denver International Airport (DEN) was finished in the mid-90s. It became the largest airport in the world by area, and was an example of spectacular architecture, its domes shaped to resemble snow-covered mountain peaks.
But what really got people’s attention was discrepancies in its financing, timing and architecture. Billions of dollars over budget, with the opening delayed many times, the airport seemed to have much more than a simple construction going on. According to some, massive underground bunkers were built under it, with floors upon floors hiding under the feet of unsuspecting travelers.
Even more, the décor of the airport featured gargoyles, strange creepy murals, and inscriptions in dead Native American languages. Ones speculated that the facility is a center of some occult activity. Others, that a secret military base is hidden under it, perhaps conducting studies on – or together with – some extraterrestrial beings. Later, the airport tried to capitalize on its infamy, conducting conspiracy-inspired tours and integrating lizard people into their marketing.
It is no secret that the world’s militaries have a lot of secret developments going on. In the U.S. those are called black projects – highly classified programs whose existence the government denies. Many of the most famous and cutting-edge aircraft – such as SR-71 Blackbird spy plane and B-2 Spirit stealth bomber – were once black projects, eventually revealed to the public.
One of those that the U.S. Air Force possibly chose not to reveal is the so-called TR-3A Black Manta: a stealth plane in the shape of a perfect triangle. What distinguishes its sightings from regular UFO stories is both the scope and the precision: many times in the 90s and the 2000s it was spotted all over the world, from the Gulf War to Area 51 to a whole avalanche of unexplained occurrences in Britain and Belgium, promptly denied by respective governments.
It did things no other aircraft could accomplish, and had features far beyond regular stealth. If it really existed – and scores of witnesses are ready to swear that it did – the experimental aircraft may have been an early reconnaissance drone with exceptional performance characteristics, still employed – and kept secret – by the government full three decades after its development.
The plane that vanished
Everybody knows the story of Malaysia Airlines flight 370. What many forgot, is how mysterious it seemed at the initial stages.
The massive Boeing 777, packed with 239 passengers and crew, simply disappeared. It flew in the South China Sea, one of the most-trafficked regions on the planet, and then was just gone. Nobody knew anything, the initial search gave no results, the plane just vanished into thin air.
The details that appeared later were no less uncomfortable. The plane was, most likely, depressurized. It steered into the void of Indian ocean, with no hope of reaching the other side, and was still flying as the initial search effort was well under way. Then, it plummeted into dark depths, never to be seen again.