Archive for December, 2019

I’ve been at O’Hare International Airport, once, it’s located in Chicago, Illinois and I fortunately got my flight in and out without incident. For the passengers and crew of American Airline Flight 191 it was another story entirely. The tragedy occurred 25th May, 1979 and was recorded on film and photography at the time.

Just as the aircraft reached its take-off speed engine no.1 and the pylon assembly were separated from the left wing. It flipped over the top of the wing and then landed on the runway. The aircraft was continuing on the normal climb up but everyone thought the pilot would be turning to come back around to land.

It is unknown what was said in the cockpit because the cockpit voice recorder lost power with the loss of the engine. The last recorded words were from the first officer “Damn!” and it was known after the engine was not the only failure in the plane. Hydraulic systems one and three were damaged and the airplane was in he air for 50 seconds before it crashed into the ground.

What the passengers saw is debatable, but the cockpit had been equipped with CCTV positioned above the captains shoulder and connected to view screens in the passenger cabin, it is possible they could see their efforts unfolding as well. The plane crashed into a field around 4,600 feet from the end of the runway, aircraft debris was then thrown into an adjacent trailer park. The DC-10 aircraft also crashed into an old aircraft hanger that was part of the old Ravenswood Airport, being used for storage.

271 people onboard the aircraft were killed, two employees at a nearby repair garage were killed and two more were seriously burnt. The conclusion, taking out the jargon, was that the aeroplane had crashed because of improper maintenance used by American Airlines. 273 dead, and despite later exonerating the aircraft the damage was done in the public’s eye. American Airlines were fined $500,000 by the US government for improper maintenance procedures. 262 Americans, 4 Saudi Arabians, 1 South Korean, 2 Austrian, 1 Belgian and 4 people from the Netherlands all gone. For 32 years there was no memorial placed but in 2009 a memorial was funded after a two-year campaign by the 6th grade class of Decatur classical school in Chicago.

With a tragedy like this it is not unusual to think that there would be accounts of strange activity. Des Plaines officers reported that motorists had reported odd sights within a few months of the crash. They had seen odd, bobbing lights in the accident sites field, they had thought that it might be ghoulish collectors but on arrival they found the fields empty. Patrols often went on to the field but never apprehended anyone.

The nearby mobile homes park residents claimed to hear knocking at doors, rapping at doors and windows; responders would open their doors only to find there was nobody there. Dogs at the park would bark at the empty field and owners were unable to find anything that they would be reacting too. On a few occasions it was also said people confronted figures in the area too, and might get a worried person who told them they were searching for lost luggage or needed to make a connection before disappearing.

One anecdote (Americanhauntingsink.com) recalls a man who was approached by another man, he was walking his dog in an area near the crash at night and the man told him he needed to mark an emergency telephone call. The man was said to have a strong smell of gasoline and appeared to be smouldering. The dog walker turned to point towards the telephone booth and when he finally turned back to the man had vanished. Until that point he hadn’t paid much attention to the 191 rumours but was now soundly convinced.

There is also another report that travellers coming through O’Hare have seen a young man making a call from a booth, located close to the Fight 191 departure gate. He is said to take a few steps after finishing the call and then vanishes in front of their eyes (no I didn’t experience this).

Ghost Research said that they had got to the site, they hadn’t experienced anything unusual but did put up some ghost box recordings on their website. What you make of ‘spirit boxes’ is personal opinion but they were uploaded and linked on the site, along with a picture of the memorial.

Flight numbers are re-used all the time, airline geeks go into another theory about the flight number being cursed. Usually an incident or tragedy might well mean the number is retired but they found four connected incidents to the use of Flight 191.

1972, Puerto Rico on June 24th, was running late and the control tower at Mercedita was closed. The pilots communicated to an uncontrolled frequency and crashed into the runway. There were 20 people on the flight and five died, including two crewmen. The investigation was unable to each any conclusion about what had happened to cause the crash.

After the Chicago incident there was another Flight 91, Delta Airlines was going from Ft Lauderdale, Hollywood to LAX with a stop at Dallas. As the flew in they were starting to see thunderstorms but they were experienced pilots, they began the descent as the storms reached their peak. It was a mile short of the runway when it landed, it hit a car near the airport, two water tanks and then disintegrated.

The cause was a weather phenomenon known as a microburst, an increase in the headwind slowed it down, caused a severe downdraft and a strong tailwind caused the plane to speed up. It first hit the car and killed the occupant, it went out of control and upon crashing 137 people of the 163 onboard died. The third tragedy struck the 191 on the 2nd August, 1985.

21 years later, Flight 191 and a flight from Lexington, Kentucky set off towards Atlanta. Comairs Flight 191 set off on the morning of 27th August, 2006, and was assigned runway 22 but used runway 26 instead. 26 was too short to make a safe take off and this meant it overrun at the end of the runway. It crashed just past the end of the runway, it killed 47 passengers and two of the three crew onboard. The first officer was the only survivor. Ames Polehinke. The investigation concluded that the likely cause of the accident was pilot error, Captain Clay’s wife disputed this saying it was an under-staffed control tower and an inaccurate runway map.

Flight 191 has been kept in use and continues to be used by US airlines but its not the plane so you likely won’t need to worry about ghosts right?

Let’s be fair with the amount of flights in the modern world and airlines it is easy to associate a number with an accident. I googled my flight for Chicago which was 4146 and it seems that there was an accident for it too. 18th January 1988 there was a loss of all 108 passengers and crew onboard. Engine Number Four caught fire and then the flight in Chongwing, China, hit a power line and two farmhouses before it burst into flames. The engine fire was caused by an oil leak and it was blamed on poor maintenance. I am not inclined to believe in accidents being associated to numbers but more the airlines we place our faith in.

It hasn’t stopped me flying.

Wikipedia

americanhauntingsink.com

Chicago Tribune (now blocked in UK)

ghostresearch.org

airlinegeeks.com

planecrashinfo.com

mysteriousuniverse.org

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Dank old photo taken by me on a phone many years ago 🙂

 

It is also known as the Essex County Hospital, the area is heavily guarded for the sake of preventing further vandalism and general criminal activity. I for one salute this, preservation of these buildings seems to be scarce in my country so I am always glad to hear when action is taken anywhere.

In 1986 the land was designated for the new location of the insane asylum and was located in Verona, now Cedar Grove, it was selected as a remote location, high altitude and peaceful for rehabilitation.

Like many it was soon victim to being at full capacity, it was so large it had its own train stop, grew its own food and the farming was considered to be helpful towards the rehabilitation of the patients. It was its own little town and even had a semi-professional baseball team.

The 1960’s and 70’s brought the further introduction of new treatments, medication and brought a decline in admitted patients. It still operated into the 1990’s and slowly parts were abandoned, which meant urban explorers and then local legends started. In 2007 Essex Court announced a smaller, modern place would be built. Overbrook would become a 90 acre country park.

For New Jersey teens exploring this was a rite of passage, “the asylum”, “the bin” and “the hilltop” tested their mettle. It is a sad fact that the buildings have been demolished. Now the site will hopefully be used for local benefit.

The site for the asylum is not that of the sanatorium, the Essex County Mountain Sanatorium stood elsewhere but was left entirely without preservation and nothing remains. The once lovely building for aiding tuberculosis sufferers is no longer standing. Nearby the penitentiary from 1872 will eventually follow suit no doubt.

In 2008 Choke was filmed at the Overbrook Asylum and so has been preserved in the form of video/film at least.

21st December, 1917, an article appeared in The New York Times about a terrible tragedy at Overbrook. A set of boilers failed during a cold wave, 24 patients died within 20 days. There were 1,800 patients at the time in the asylum and it gave rise to 32 cases of frostbite. The conditions were bad enough that the director sent a letter to relatives, he encouraged them to take their relatives away until the situation could be resolved.

Ghost Adventures visited the site but they did not give the official location during the filming, but Ghost Hunters and their sister show, GH Academy also visited. The TV shows go with the idea that forgotten patients still wander the halls. Much like Danver’s and others of a similar build the idea of the underground tunnels draws a good deal of attention too.

Building II was the location for the morgue and criminally insane, apparently, I do wonder why these two always feature together on plans… and it is said that there is a nurse there walking the halls. Alongside this are reports of screaming, bangs and direct threats on a vocal level for people to leave the property.

I could find nothing outside of the TV shows about hauntings, I am more than aware about the claims from these shows about false evidence too. Many locals seem quick to dispute the cases and tales as well, so have you anything to add?

Overbrook Station.JPG
By J. E. Bailey – Images of America: Cedar Grove, Public Domain, Link