by John G. Fuller
Reviewed by Theresa Welsh
A DIFFERENT KIND OF GHOST STORY
- Can the repeated and widely-reported ghost appearances
of a dead crew member of a crashed airliner
prove the existence of life after death?
THE FACTS Eastern Air Lines Flight 401 (a Lockheed L-1011-1 Tristar jet) crashed into the Florida Everglades on December 29, 1972, killing 97 of 163 passengers and the Captain and Flight Engineer. The cause of the crash was determend to be that the flight crew were busy trying to figure out why a landing gear indicator light was on and so failed to notice that the autopilot had become disconnected. The aircraft gradually lost altitude and crashed, the first crash of this type of wide-body aircraft.
Collecting Stories of Contact
It seems apparent that John G. Fuller did not think he had enough material to write this story as the straight tale of Flight 401 going down in the Everglades, then chronicling the ghost appearances that followed. Instead, Fuller chose to inject himself in his narrative and tell in detail how he got interested in these ghost stories (he was on airplanes a lot and heard stories about ghosts from the cabin attendants), how he collected the stories (from airline personnel who mainly wanted to remain anonymous), and how he himself became convinced of their truthfulness (through his own psychic contact with the deceased). He seemed exceptionally sensitive to the possible ridicule this story might arouse. Yet, the story pulled him in and he became increasingly interested in any small detail that might shed light on these reports from airline personnel of seeing and interacting with the forms of men known to have died in the crash.
The sheer number of witnesses to the ghosts make the stories believable. What I found the most amazing was the witnesses who saw the pilot or Flight Engineer as totally solid bodies, and in a few instances, these ghosts actually talked with the living! As apparition stories go, these are first-rate.
But the author gets bogged down in his attempts to find some way to wrap up his book. He opts to use a ouija board, and he succeeds in getting through to Flight Engineer Don Repo. The exchange with Repo is compelling, but such an approach invites criticism. To the skeptics who say "when you're dead, you're dead" the evidence from a ouija board will never be accepted.
The Flight Engineer who Could Not Leave his Plane, Even After Death
Fuller makes it clear his main interest here is in confirming whether life goes on after death. It is a subject about which he himself had no clear belief (Fuller, a prolific author, died in 1990), but we can assume he found his own personally convincing evidence of continued existence through his research for this book. For Don Repo, the dead Flight Engineer, one can say that the accident was something even his spirit could not let go of, could not accept. His spirit remained close by the airplane and the family he loved. Fuller explains how mediums he contacted performed a "soul rescue" to try to help Repo's spirit move on. His wife and daughter believed they were conversing with him once Fuller met with them and they all made contact through the oija board. It's hard to imagine the guilt the flight crew would feel after such a terrible accident, that killed 100 people. It's not surprising that their souls would be too restless to move on and might haunt the Eastern L1011 planes, as they apparently did.
Compelling Accounts, But Belief is Personal
A difficult story to tell, for sure. John G. Fuller does his best, but there will always be those who think he simply made it up or that the witnesses were just hallucinating. How can you ever prove you saw a ghost? How can you prove that ghosts are the souls of those who have passed on? And how many can believe that those souls can manifest as solid people, looking just like they did before they died? If they all saw what they say they saw, what does it mean about life after death? You can't read this book without doing some serious thinking about this subject.
Click this link to go to the amazon.com page for this book: The Ghost of Flight 401
John G. Fuller is the author of another book about contact with people who die in flight. His book, The Airmen Who Would Not Die, examines two historic crashes (an airplane and a dirigible) and the subsequent contacts between the deceased and living people. See my review of this book.
For a more recent take on contact with the dead, I suggest Bonnie McEneaney's book, Messages: Signs, Visits, and Premonitions from Loved Ones Lost on 9/11, about the aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy, as survivor's felt the presence of those who died on that day. This book is well-written and includes first-hand stories from many different people who experienced some type of what they believe was contact with their lost loved ones. See below for links to my review and the books' Amazon pages.
More Books About Spirit Contact