A man seen lying and praying on top of the tomb of Jesus Christ, as thousands of Orthodox Christian worshippers take part in the Holy Fire ceremony at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, traditionally believed to be the burial site of Jesus Christ, in Jerusalem’s Old City during the Easter holiday. April 30, 2016. Photo by Hadas Parush
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.
“…He was moved with compassion for them.” (Matthew 9:36)
Thinking today about the compassion of Christ for us in the midst of the messy and the mundane. Jesus always seeks out where the hurting and suffering ones are, and that’s where He stays. Our faith is imperfect at best, our weaknesses are many. Yet we live in a land of hope: the light of grace shines bright and we are close to His heart of mercy.
Spurgeon writes, “His tender heart pities all the griefs of his dear people. There is not a pang they have but the head feels it, feels it for all the members. Still doth he look upon their imperfections and their infirmities, yet not with anger, not with loss of patience, but with gentleness and sympathy, "He is moved with compassion.”