December 29, 1972. At 7:43 pm an Eastern Airlines Lockheed Tri-Star lands at JFK airport in NYC. The plane, designated as 310 is one of a dozen Tri-Stars that are the pride of Eastern Airlines. The plane is refueled and at 9:20 pm and is given permission to take off.
The Flight is headed to Miami with a veteran flight crew on board. Donald Repo is the flight engineer and second officer. John Stockstill is the first officer and Robert Loft is the captain. Loft is one of Eastern’s top pilots with 32 years of experience and over 29,000 flight hours.
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The flight is uneventful. Then as flight 401 approaches Miami International Airport the crew lowers the landing gear and a warning light goes on indicating that the front landing gear did not lower, or was not locked into position. The crew scrambles to try to get the gear to lower but the indicator light remains on. It seems that as the crew worked to fix the gear, they were losing altitude. They believe they are at 2000 ft, but in reality they are much closer to the ground. As 401 banks to turn back towards MIA the wing hits the ground.
The last words that are heard from Flight 401 is, “Hey, What’s going on here.” The Miami air traffic controller in the tower hears the transmission and looks to his screen. The information block shows “CST,” meaning Coast, an indication that the plane had disappeared from the radar. Moments later the tower receives an ominous report from another pilot that he has seen a large explosion south of the airport. Eastern Airlines flight 401 has crashed into the Florida Everglades at 11:43 pm, 18.7 miles from the end of their intended runway. 101 people die as a result of the crash.
Following the conclusion of the crash investigation, the wreckage was released to Eastern Airlines. Despite the horrific impact, there were some parts of the flight 401 plane that were salvageable. The parts were used as replacement parts on other Eastern Tri-Star planes. According to some, the planes got more than just parts from the Flight 401 plane, they also got the ghosts of the 401 flight crew.
There have been reports by Eastern flight attendants and pilots of strange encounters with the ghosts of Captain Loft and Flight Engineer Donald Repo. Captain Loft reportedly appeared to two flight attendants and the Captain of an Eastern flight as the crew was preparing for take off. Loft vanished before their eyes and the crew was so upset by the incident that the flight was canceled.
Eastern Flight attendant, Fay Meriwether was preparing for her flight, when she saw a man in an Eastern uniform in the galley of the plane. She called two of her crew mates to confront the unknown man. One of them was the flight engineer, who recognized the man immediately. It was his old friend, the now deceased Donald Repo, who vanished before them.
One Eastern Captain reported that as he was going thru his pre flight routine, he saw a familiar face, someone he had known for many years, it was Captain Robert Loft who gave his friend a message, telling him not to worry as there would never be another crash of a Lockheed Tri-Star because, “We won’t let it happen.” Eastern appears to have had enough of the reports of the ghosts of the flight 401 crew and have reportedly warned crew members to not discuss any further ghostly encounters.