We often think of haunted places as spooky old houses or abandoned asylums, but what about an aircraft? One such case is that of Flight 401, an Eastern Airlines flight that crashed into the Florida Everglades on December 29th 1972 at approximately 11:42 P.M. The captain, along with one of two flight crew members, two of 10 flight attendants, and 97 of 163 passengers, died; 75 passengers and crew survived. The crash was a result of the crew becoming distracted by a minor problem (a burnt-out landing gear indicator light), and failing to notice that the plane was not on autopilot. They were unknowingly free-falling for more than 10 minutes. The last dialogue heard on the plane is surprisingly casual, and at least somewhat relieving to know that the causalities never knew what hit them:
“Stockstill: Um, [pause] we’re still at 2,000 feet, right?”
“Loft: Hey—what’s happening here?”
Although the crash was disastrous, a lot of the non-essential equipment (i.e dinner trays, seats and hinges) were salvageable and were “recycled” onto other aircrafts in order to save money. After this, odd things began happening. On several flights, flight attendants and passengers witnessed the ghost of Captain Bob Loft walking in and out of the cock-pit before vanishing into thin air. On one occasion, the flight crew were so shaken by the experience that they had to cancel the flight. On another flight, a lady 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. More than 10 flights had reports of paranormal occurrences, and all these flights contained at least one part of the crashed plane. In 1981, all of these “haunted planes” were taken out of service in fears that a paranormal experience may cause another crash. It remains the only incident of a supposed haunted aircraft, and is as creepy as it is unusual.
Big Cypress National Preserve protects over 729,000 acres of freshwater wetlands in south Florida. Together with neighboring Everglades National Park, the preserve is essential to the health of the state’s diverse wildlife and marine estuaries. It’s also a place of stunning beauty and amazing outdoor experiences. Aerial photo by John Kellam, National Park Service.
The Florida Everglades population of this species
has been protected by the Endangered Species Act since 1967, even though the species as a whole is listed as IUCN Least Concern due to strong numbers in Central America. It is threatened by the loss of freshwater marsh habitat and consequently the decline of its primary food source, the apple snail.
Deep in the uncharted mangrove and cypress swamps of the Florida Everglades, there are stories of an extremely stinky creature. The Skunk Ape! An enormous primate that has often been referred to as Florida’s Bigfoot. With a nauseating aroma that can reportedly be smelled a mile away, this elusive creature made it’s debut a while back in the 20′s, but really hit it off in the 70′s when it was seen many times roaming around Miami-Dade County! (gulp! That’s MY neck of the woods!)
Sightings died down until the year 2000, when a Sarasota woman took the famous “Mayaka Photos” which definitely proved without a doubt that she took a picture of something!
Help us celebrate World Wetlands Day! Among the world’s most productive environments, wetlands are critically important to freshwater supply, biodiversity, flood control and food production. They’re also places of stunning natural beauty. Photo from the Pa-hay-okee overlook at Everglades National Park in Florida courtesy of Paul Marcellini.
Everglades National Park in Florida is a subtle place where earth, water and sky blend in a low green landscape – where mere inches of elevation produce distinct changes in vegetation and a great wealth of birds and other unique wildlife find refuge. One of the most environmentally significant regions in the world, this special park can also impress with its sublime beauty. Sunset photo courtesy of Aryeh Nirenberg.