There seem to be plenty of haunted houses around these Spooky Isles, but it is not often we come across a haunted aeroplane. RAF Cosford near Telford in Shropshire has a museum boasting a large collection of aircraft. One of these is the haunted Avro Lincoln bomber bearing the serial number RF398. PHILIP DAVIES dons his flying gear to take a closer look.
Learning to Fly
Before I go too much further, I have to admit, there is no real reason for the bomber to be haunted. It may have been built during World War II but it didn’t actually enter service until after The War had finished. It was flown for just over 11 years and saw only limited combat use. Certainly there are no reports of anyone having been killed whilst in the aircraft and yet somehow it still seems to have attracted the attention of something.
Fly me to the moon
The first report of ghostly activity around the plane was in 1979 when two engineers who were working late restoring it reported seeing a figure approach them and then disappear before their eyes. Needless to say they swiftly packed up and left. The next morning they returned and found aircraft parts on the floor underneath it. The engineers swore they had tidied up and that they had been the last to leave the hangar and were the first to enter it again the next day.
In 1980 whilst the hangar was being closed down for the night, a member of staff saw a figure moving around near the old aircraft. They immediately switched on the lights expecting to catch the intruder only to find nothing. Although feeling unsettled they turned the lights back off again only for the shadow to reappear.
Later this same week a mechanic working on the plane was fishing around for a spanner he needed, only to have it thrust into his hand. He looked around to thank the helpful individual but found that no-one was nearby.
Since then there have been numerous sightings of a fair haired airman both in and around the aircraft. He has been seen sat in the cockpit dressed in flying outfit or stood around inspecting the bomber. Every time someone approaches him he appears not to hear them and mysteriously vanishes.
Flying Without Wings
Perhaps the most incredible encounter was that of an electrician who fell from his station fifteen feet in the air. By all accounts he was an unlucky chap who had previously hurt his back in a similar fall. This time he fully expected that the fall would be the end of him. However, rather than plummet to the ground he told everyone how he floated to a stop ‘As if some invisible force had prevented his fall’.
Such a variety of hauntings is sure to attract the attention of paranormal investigators and this is exactly what happened in 1987 when members of the Chesterfield Paranormal Research Group set up a tape recorder inside the Lincoln. They returned 40 minutes later to find the tape had been removed and tape unspooled around the area. Over the next four years they recorded numerous odd sounds coming from in and around the cockpit of the haunted plane.
One Day I’ll Fly Away
Although nobody knows who or what the phantom is, there has been some speculation that it might be the ghost of Master Pilot Major Hiller. Hiller was extremely fond of the Avro Lincoln and promised to ‘haunt this baby’ after he took it for its last flight in 1963. As is often the way with promises like, this Hiller was killed soon afterwards in a plane crash near that happened near Cosford.
So is the phantom the restless spirit of Major Hiller who is keeping his promise, or is it somebody, or something else? Whoever, or whatever it is, it appears to be friendly; saving the life of one electrician and helping out the mechanics working on restoring this beloved plane to its former glory. Unfortunately we’ll probably never know as RAF Cosford have not allowed any paranormal investigations on or near the plane for some years now, and so aircraft number RF398 remains shrouded in mystery, offering more questions than answers