Eastern Air Lines Flight 401 was one of the deadliest plane crashes in the history of the United States. Of the 163 passengers and 13 crew members, 101 died when the plane crashed in the Florida Everglades on December 22, 1972.
The flight had left John F. Kennedy International Airport and was nearly at its destination of Miami International Airport when things started to go wrong. As the aircraft approached the airport, the landing gear was lowered, however, the landing gear indicator, which lets the crew know that the gear is properly locked in the "down" position, did not light up.
As the Pilot circled the area and the crew tried to determine why there was no confirmation light indicating the gear was down, the plane somehow got switched to autopilot. The plane began to descend, but the distracted crew did not notice. The final report on the crash stated it was completely due to pilot error.
For some time following the crash, employees of the airline reported seeing the ghosts of dead crew members on other planes. Many believed this was due to the fact that parts from the Flight 401 plane were salvaged and refitted on similar models of plane. The employees specifically spoke of seeing the spirits of Captain Bob Loft and Second Officer Don Repo.
One story claims that on a 1973 flight, a Flight Attendant saw Captain Loft on her flight and questioned him as to who he was since she had not seen him board. He did not reply, so she went and got the captain to accompany her to talk to him. The captain immediately recognized Captain Loft. When the flight captain called out Loft's name in shock, Loft immediately disappeared, apparently in front of dozens of passengers.
On a 1974 flight, the Pilot claims to have seen Don Repo sitting in the Flight Engineer's seat. The pilot said that Repo told him that he and Loft would not allow another crash like Flight 401, and then he vanished into thin air. A crew member of another flight said that Repo appeared to him and said he had completed the pre-flight check.
Another time, a Flight Attendant saw a Flight Engineer fixing the plane's microwave oven. While speaking to the Flight Engineer later, she asked what was wrong with the microwave. He replied that had no idea what she was talking about, and he had not known anything to be wrong with it. Repo also appeared several times in the electronics room beneath the cockpit. Usually it was to crew members who went to investigate knocking sounds they heard coming from the room.
The stories were so common and spreading so fast that the management of Eastern Air Lines warned its employees that spreading theses stories could result in their dismissal. In 1976, a few years after the ghost sightings stopped, John G. Fuller published a book titled The Ghost of Flight 401, which detailed the events leading up to the crash and the stories of ghosts told later. Much of the information in the book came from his wife, Elizabeth, who had been an Eastern Air Lines Flight Attendant.