50 Years Ago Today Eastern Flight 401 Crashed in the Everglades. Did Cockpit Crew Haunt The Airline?

Eastern Air Lines Flight 401 departed New York for Miami on December 29, 1972. The Lockheed L-1011 crashed into the Florida Everglades. Both pilots and the flight engineer died, along with 2 out of 10 flight attendants and 96 of the 163 passengers on board. There were 75 survivors.

While the crew dealt with an inoperative landing gear indicator light, the plane’s auto-pilot was accidentally disconnected. Flight crew didn’t realize the plane was descending (“We’re still at 2000, right?”).

Most of the passengers who died in the crash were in the midsection of the aircraft. Crashing into the Everglades, much of the force of impact was absorbed and the mud from the swamp helped prevent injured passengers from bleeding out though it also caused infections in many of the survivors.

Equipment salvaged from the wreckage was reportedly used in other Eastern Air Lines L-1011 aircraft, and John Fuller’s 1976 book The Ghost of Flight 401 recounts stories of paranormal activity on board airframes that received those parts.

eastern flight 401

L-1011 N310EA Crashed Into The Florida Everglades, credit: Jon Proctor via Wikimedia Commons

According to lore, one flight was cancelled after the ghost of Captain Bob Loft appeared and disappeared in front a three members of the flight’s crew. Another flight’s captain reported seeing flight engineer Don Repo in his cockpit. Repo told him there would never be another crash of an L-1011. (Sadly this was not to be the case.) Repo was also reported spotted in the avionics bay of another L-1011 ,the same place he’d been – checking on the landing gear – when flight 401 went down.

A TV movie was made from the book in 1978, the full video of which is available online:

The ghosts of Eastern 401 were reportedly seen last year as well, so sightings certainly do continue.

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