On December 29, 1972, Eastern Airlines Flight 401 to Miami, Florida crashed into the Florida Everglades swamps. Amongst the wreckage of the Lockheed L-1011-1 Tristar jet there were 101 fatalities and 75 survivors. Captain Robert Albin Loft and Flight Engineer Donald Louise Repo not only lost their lives on that flight but were held responsible for the crash. While dealing with a landing gear problem, none of the crew was aware that they had inadvertently disconnected the autopilot which led to the jet losing altitude. By the time they had realised what was happening, it was too late.
After the crash, salvaged parts were recycled and used in other Lockheed L-1011-1 Tristar jets. It is mainly on these planes that crew members and passengers began to witness the dead crew members of flight 401.
Different accounts involving Captain Bob Loft were as follows -
- he was seen in an overhead compartment.
- he was seen in first class by several crew members and passengers
- the vice-president of Eastern Airlines while boarding a flight at JFK in New York, spoke to a man dressed in his pilots uniform who was resting in first class. When he recognised the man as Bob Loft the man disappeared.
- his disembodied voice made an announcement over the intercom advising the passengers to fasten their seatbelts.
- several crew members spoke to him and then watched as he vanished before their eyes.
The accounts involving Flight Engineer Don Repo were as follows-
- he was seen sitting in the cockpit and told an engineer that he had already completed the pre-flight checks before vanishing.
- he appeared to a crew member and advised that he wouldn't let another Lockheed L-1011-1 Tristar jet ever crash again.
- there were several sightings where he warned engineers about technical issues which would then turn out to be true.
- he was seen fixing a broken oven in the galley.
- he was seen inside an oven in the galley where he warned 3 crew members that there would be a fire on that flight. True to his word an engine almost caught fire and the last leg of the flight was cancelled.
- a passenger advised a flight attendant that the man sat next to her looked ill and was unresponsive. When returning to the man they watched as the man vanished.
It is rumoured that crew members requested that all salvaged parts from flight 401 be removed from any planes that the parts were installed on as they felt incredibly uneasy on these flights. These parts were eventually removed and the sightings of Bob Loft and Don Repo came to a halt.
During the time of these paranormal events paranormal investigators were denied the chance to board these jets to attempt to record the paranormal activity. The airline attempted to keep the events that had transpired quiet as they believed it would negatively affect the use of their airline. At one point Eastern Airline had told their employees that anybody found spreading the ghost stories could possibly face dismissal. Sightings had already been reported to the independent Flight Safety Foundation who commented, “The reports were given by experienced and trustworthy pilots and crew. We consider them significant.”
In the following years the sightings ceased and up until Eastern’s closure there were no other fatal crashes on their Lockheed L-1011-1 Tristar fleet. As Don Repo had said from beyond the grave, there wouldn’t be any more accidents like the one on flight 401. This appears to have come true.