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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Ghost of Flight 401

I first heard about the "Ghost of Flight 401" as a kid, and saw a movie... appropriately titled, "The Ghost of Flight 401".  I'd heard that it was based on true events, and was interested in learning more about this case of the paranormal.  What I didn't know at the time was that it was also based on the book of the same name by John G. Fuller.

Then one day, while rummaging through the Paranormal section of one of my favorite book stores, I came across this book.  Remembering the case from my childhood, I that it would be a good addition to my collection.  And it was.

John G. Fuller was a journalist/author that at one time wrote a regular column for the magazine, "Saturday Review".  He also wrote several non-fiction books regarding UFO's and the paranormal, including, "The Interrupted Journey: 2 Lost Hours 'Aboard a Flying Saucer'", "Incident at Exeter: The Story of Unidentified Flying Objects Over America Now", and "The Airmen Who Would Not Die".

"The Ghost of Flight 401" starts out with Fuller investigating how an urban legend starts- which is what he considered this ghost to be.  What interested him most though was how, unlike most urban legends, the details remained the same regardless of who told it.  It was always the same airline, same type of jet, same flight number, and crew members named.  Fuller then begins to research the story in order to figure out how such a ghost story could develop in our "modern world".  Things then begin to take an interesting turn after he meets a female flight attendant from the airline that's been the subject of the stories... and he finds himself in the middle of the paranormal events.

This books is a very well written, interesting, and thorough investigation of the paranormal events surrounding the crash of Eastern Air Lines Flight 401 in 1972.  It covers details of the actual crash- as well as the investigation into it.  It then covers the reports of ghost sightings of the plane's Captain- Robert Loft, and the Second Officer, Donald Repo on planes supposedly fitted with parts from the crashed airplane.  The book smoothly evolves from one type of investigation into another where the Fuller details the paranormal events surrounding his investigation into the case.

The original premise- researching how an urban legend begins was unique and interest catching, and I found it interesting to read as it the focus of the writing changed from that to the investigation of actual paranormal happenings.  Fuller has a very personable and conversational style of writing that I found to flow smoothly.  I came to like him as his viewpoint on the paranormal expanded.  He is also a very engaging writer in that he doesn't just recite facts, nor does he write like he has all the answers.  Fuller confidently puts his uncertainty and doubt about the validity of his own experiences down as he grows to accept the things happening around him.  Many writers of paranormal non-fiction write to dramatize the events.  Fuller doesn't- he's quiet, and down to earth in his writing.  He simply says, "This is what happened... either believe it, or don't..."

For people interested in paranormal non-fiction, I can honestly say that I'd rate this book as one of "The Good"

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