For Eastern Airlines Flight 401 on December 29, 1972, the end of the flight was not the end of the story.
It was the beginning of a ghost mystery—or, perhaps, a story of guardian angels—that continued for more than a year until the benign and even helpful spirits departed Eastern Airlines airplanes and continued on their way…
The story of the crash of Flight 401 recounted in the slideshow is true.
The stories of sightings of 401’s deceased captain and flight engineer for months after
the crash were never confirmed by the management of Eastern Airlines. But if spirits were seen, they were definitely not
the sinister kind.
This is a different kind of “ghost story.” It’s suitable for use on Halloween or at any other time. This unit includes:
• A slideshow
(noneditable), in PowerPoint and PDF formats.
• A famous, old, anonymous poem
that presents a story that is analogous to the situation that downed the airplane: “For want of a nail, the shoe was lost; for want of a shoe, the horse was lost…” This poem may be used as part of the essay activity:
• An essay activity worksheet:
Were two burned-out light bulbs really the cause of the crash of Eastern Airlines Flight 401? Why or why not?
• An editable vocabulary list
• An edited transcript for a “reenactment”
of the last part of Flight 401 that may be used with five students playing the parts of crew members, air traffic controller, and narrator. (Caution:
Some of the language used in the transcript for this activity is best suited to more mature classes. This is an optional activity; be sure to review it before use to determine its suitability for your particular class.)
• A link
to a video recreation
of the last part of Flight 401. (Caution:
Some of the language used in the video is best suited to more mature classes. This is an optional activity.; be sure to review it before use to determine its suitability for your particular class.)
Flight 401 changed the way airline pilots are trained. Airliner (and other) flight crews today are taught that one pilot must always be in charge of “flying the airplane.” Proper “crew resource management” provides a team approach to improved safety.
Are airline flight crews told about the “ghost” that warned flight and cabin crews of electrical problems? Probably not, but it’s good to know that if you see a spirit from the Eastern Flight 401 cockpit crew on a modern-day flight, he just may be a guardian angel who's there to help.
BGI (Basic Ground Instructor) and
Instrument-Rated Private Pilot
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