The Ghost of Flight 401: Mystery Files

Don Repo - Flight Engineer

The plane, a Lockheed L-1011 TriStar was being readied for take-off. It's Second Officer was making his way into the flight-deck to carry out his pre-flight inspection. As he arrived, he was surprised to see flight engineer Don Repo already carrying out the pre-flight procedure.

Don turned to the second officer and said "You don't need to worry about the pre-flight, I've already done it" The Second Officer became alarmed - not because Don Repo wasn't the Second Officer on that flight, or because he had carried out the procedure incorrectly - It was because he knew that Don Repo was dead!

An Eastern Airlines Lockheed L-1011 TriStar as used by Flight 401
An Eastern Airlines Lockheed L-1011 TriStar as used by Flight 401

Flight 401

Don Repo and his Captain Bob Loft, were the flight crew of Flight 401 which crashed into Florida's Everglade swamplands on 29th of December 1972.

After a routine flight, the captain was preparing to land when he thought he had detected a problem with the nose-gear, which he believed had not fully locked into place. He asked Don Repo, who was his Second Officer, to do a visual check of the gear.

This entailed Don climbing down into a small space known to all as "The Hell Hole", from where he could check the gear, but as he entered the hole, the Lockheed TriStar tore into the Everglades and plunged violently into the swampy water beneath, killing 101 people in the process.

What had gone wrong with Flight 401?

It was ascertained later, that either Don Repo or Bob Loft must have unknowingly switched off the plane's autopilot. The L-1011 had an autopilot system which could be disengaged by moving the control column in a certain way, and it seems that this had happened accidentally whilst they were moving about the cabin.

Although the plane's autopilot had been set to maintain an altitude of 2000 feet, and although the autopilot readout continued to display the height at which it was set -2000 feet, the plane had actually descended to 500 feet in less than a minute.

The planes systems had detected the drop in height and had sounded an alarm which apparently, was not heard by Captain Loft, and certainly would not have been heard by Don Repo down in the "Hell hole". Within seconds, the plane, it's crew and passengers had all been lost.

The wreckage of Eastern Airlines Flight 401
The wreckage of Eastern Airlines Flight 401

The Ghosts of Don Repo and Bob Loft?

If reports are to be believed, the deaths of Bob Loft and Don Repo have done nothing to cut short their flying career. They continue to be seen - and heard - in other Lockheed L-1011 aircraft. In fact so prevalent are reported sightings of the departed crew members that Eastern Airlines management have taken the unprecedented step of warning their employees that they could face dismissal if they are caught talking about such sightings.

The reports themselves are highly convincing. These are not just tales of smokey-shapes and cold-spots. These were full blown encounters by sober and responsible people such as pilots and flight officers. Some of the sightings included protracted conversations with the dead men. The Vice-president of Eastern Airlines reported that he spoke to a Captain that he assumed was in charge of an aircraft, but later identified the man as the deceased Bob Loft.

Some of the encounters even have multiple witnesses. In one report, a flight's Captain along with two Flight Attendants said that they had seen and spoken to Bob Loft whilst preparing for take-off. They had then seen him vanish, and were so distressed that they cancelled the flight.

Don Repo - Flight Engineer with Eastern Airlines on Flight 401
Don Repo - Flight Engineer with Eastern Airlines on Flight 401
Bob Loft - Flight Captain with Eastern Airlines on Flight 401
Bob Loft - Flight Captain with Eastern Airlines on Flight 401

Another report concerns a lady passenger who called the Flight Attendant to see to the quiet man sitting next to her seat. She was concerned that he seemed unresponsive. The man in question was wearing an Eastern Airlines uniform and promptly disappeared in full view of the woman, the Flight attendant and a number of the other passengers. The woman became hysterical and had to be calmed. Later she was shown a sheet of photographs of Eastern Airlines air crew and asked to identify the man. She pointed to the photo of Don Repo.

Ghostly warnings

Repo has been observed on more that one occasion apparently fixing the galley ovens. Flight Attendant Faye Merriweather saw a face staring out at her from the galley oven of another L-1011, TriStar 318. She called out for help and two colleagues came to assist, one of which was a Flight Engineer who had been a friend of Don Repo.

The moment he arrived in the galley, he recognised the man as his former friend. Repo warned them to "watch out for fire on this airplane". The aircraft had to cancel the last leg of it's journey due to serious engine problems, and the records of the Federal Aviation Agency shows that a fire did indeed break out on the aircraft. The galley in question had been salvaged from the wreck of Flight 401.

The Flight Safety Foundation, to whom the sightings had been reported wrote "The reports were given by experienced and trustworthy pilots and crew. We consider them significant. The appearance of the dead Flight Engineer (Repo)... was confirmed by the Flight Engineer".

The Ghost Of Flight 401
The Ghost Of Flight 401

The full story of the ghostly flight and aftermath.

 

The Reason for the Hauntings?

One L-1011 TriStar Captain has stated that Don Repo had appeared to him and told him that there would never be another crash of an L-1011 aircraft because "We will not let it happen"

Records show that there has not been another L-1011 crash since Flight 401

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