Okay, I admit the above image isn’t much to look at. It’s an unnamed road through the middle of a Florida swamp, about 12 miles from the outskirts of Miami. But here, late on the night of December 29, 1972, something really awful happened in this wilderness: a fully-loaded jumbo jet, an L-1011, crashed while on approach to Miami International Airport. The crash of Flight 401, which had originated in New York, killed 99 people outright, with two more dying later of their injuries. 75 people aboard the plane survived.
The investigation determined that Flight 401 crashed because the pilots were distracted by a malfunctioning indicator light on the front landing gear, and while dealing with that one of them accidentally hit the controls that caused the auto-pilot to begin descending. The warning chime that indicated this wasn’t loud enough. Because the plane was circling over the swamp at night where there were no lights, no one could tell how low the plane was–until it crashed.
Because of the location of the impact, this was one of the most horrific plane crashes of all time. Although the swamp water was only 18 inches deep, many passengers, strapped to their seats and trapped in the wreckage, drowned. Others were torn to pieces by sawgrass, whose blades can cut apart a human body like machetes when one impacts them at 227 miles per hour. Survivors’ wounds were infected by bacteria and many had limbs amputated as a result.
The most famous result of this crash was a spate of ghost stories that spread through Eastern Airlines, the now-defunct operator of the plane, in the following years. Parts were salvaged from the crashed plane and re-used in other L-1011s. Crews aboard planes using those parts sometimes reported seeing ghosts of dead Flight 401 crew members, particularly pilot Bob Loft. These stories were told in paranormal author John G. Fuller’s 1976 book The Ghost of Flight 401.
I do not believe in ghosts so I think the stories are utter rubbish, and frankly the account of the real crash is enough of a horror story on its own without ghosts added into the mix.
Okay, ready for the freaky part? This site is less than two miles away from the site of another much more famous crash, that of ValuJet Flight 592, which killed all 110 of its passengers in 1996. This definitely counts as a “haunted place.” There is a memorial to the ValuJet victims, but not the Flight 401 dead.
Read more about Flight 401 here.