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(DIA)

Haunted Airfields

For Halloween, a collection of weird tales about airports and aircraft

Nothing says "fear of flying" like a good aviation-related ghost story. So, in time for Halloween, we present a few haunting tales for your reading pleasure.

First up: It makes sense that the United States’ largest international airport is home to both ghosts and outsize conspiracy theories. At least one Web site claims that Denver International (pictured during a lightning storm) is built atop Native American burial grounds. The rumor may have started, says the site, when the airport’s public art program began playing Native American chants on a continuous audio loop near the pedestrian bridge linking Concourse A and the Jeppesen Terminal building. To be safe, in April 1995, Native American spiritual leaders performed a night-time ceremony to put any ancient spirits to rest. (Read the 1995 story in the alternative weekly newspaper Denver Westword here.)

Laura Coale, the director of media relations at Denver International, confirms that blessings were done at the site, but notes that archaeologists surveyed the area before airport construction began, and found no traces of any burial grounds.

Other reasons for the spooky vibe at DIA include the 32-foot-tall sculpture “Mustang,” by artist Luis Jimenez (who was killed while working on the sculpture), which inspired 200 “protest haiku” to be delivered to the Denver mayor’s office (Sample: Because of this thing / People think they are in hell / instead of Denver). The airport's underground tunnels, originally meant for a computerized baggage system, also are believed by some to be secret bunkers built for the 2012 apocalypse, or a place to warehouse space aliens. Then there are the airport's “scary” murals depicting the destruction of the environment and the horrors of war, and a Masonic plaque (under which a time capsule is buried) bearing the words “New World Airport Commission.”

Archerfield

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(Murray van der Veer)

The ghost of a World War II Royal Australian Air Force airman (dressed in uniform, goggles and cap, and carrying a deployed parachute under his arm) is said to haunt Archerfield Airport in Queensland, Australia. The Southern Star reported in 2009 that the ghost “is that of a man who was on board a Royal Australian Air Force transport plane, which took off from Archerfield just after 5 a.m. on March 27, 1943, on a mission to Sydney to pick up radar equipment. Less than a minute later, the C-47 Dakota rolled on to its left side and plummeted to the ground, smashing into trees and exploding in swampland…. All 23 Australian and US military servicemen and women on board died.”

The crash did actually happen, and there is a memorial plaque at the airport dedicated to the 36 Transport Squadron.

Another possible reason for the ghost story, says Archerfield Airport General Manager Corrie Metz, “may have something to do with the fact that the airport was first acquired from a pioneer who started a family burial plot that turned into a small cemetery called ‘God’s Acre.’ The cemetery (in the bottom right corner of the photo) is on airport land, and is still being maintained by the airport. It was originally for the Grenier family, who buried their 16-year-old son, Volney, after he died in a horse riding accident in 1859. The plot was then used for the family and later for other pioneers of the area. The last Sunday in June of each year is still used by direct descendants to commemorate the site.”

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