The Ghosts of Flight 401

Released Monday, 25th November 2019
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At 9:20 p.m. on December 29, 1972, a Lockheed L-1011 TriStar commercial airliner, designated as Eastern Airlines Flight 401, departed John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, New York, bound for Miami, Florida.  Onboard were 13 crew members and 163 passengers, 176 souls in all.  It was a routine trip for Flight 401 until 11:32 p.m. when the plane began its approach to Miami International Airport, and an indicator light for the nose landing gear had not lit up.  While the Flight Crew tried to troubleshoot the faulty indicator, the steering yoke was accidentally nudged, causing a function of the autopilot to begin a descent so gradually that no one had noticed.  Ten minutes later, Flight 401 crashed into the Florida Everglades, killing five crew members and 96 passengers.  It would be the first crash of a “Jumbo Jet” and have at the time, the highest number of fatalities from any one-plane accident in U.S. civil aviation history.  But this tragic story doesn’t end there.  A legend was born citing more than 20 accounts from EAL employees and passengers that they had interacted with the ghosts of Captain Bob Loft and Flight Engineer Don Repo who had perished in the crash.  These stories mostly involved other Eastern Airlines L-1011s that had refitted parts salvaged from Flight 401.  Whether out of guilt or an unstoppable sense of duty, these apparitions reportedly appeared to be quite lifelike and were trying to prevent further disasters.  Although Eastern Airlines management vehemently denied these claims, due to the prevalence of these tales in the airline community, one must wonder if there is any truth to them.  Whatever the case, whether from real testimony or a desire to entertain, the legend of the ghosts of Flight 401 helped to make sure the victims and survivors are not forgotten.

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Episode Details
1h 47m 29s

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