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Deadhead Pilot

May 2024
Undisclosed Location

My husband is a commercial pilot for a major airline. Recently, he told me a story about an encounter he had with what he thinks was a ghost on board a flight.

On this particular occasion, my husband was deadheading. This is what they call it when a pilot flies as a passenger on a commercial flight to get them to a certain location for their work. When this happens, they have to be in uniform and are officially “on duty,” so I know for a fact that my husband was completely sober when it happened.

The flight he was on was only half full, so he got to sit in first class. Deadheading pilots are also allowed to board early ahead of paying passengers, so you can imagine his surprise when he got on board and saw a passenger already seated.

My husband says he made brief eye contact with the passenger, who was a man in his middle to late sixties, but he brushed it off thinking maybe the passenger had been let on early because he needed help. He said he did look a bit frail and tired. My husband took the front seat in first class and watched as the passengers were loaded and the flight attendants did their thing.

Once the plane was in the air and the seatbelt sign was off, my husband got up to use the bathroom. He was surprised to find the first-class cabin completely empty aside from himself. He looked around briefly, wondering if the man had been moved back to the coach seats, but didn’t see him.

On his way to the bathroom, he stopped to talk to a flight attendant he often works with. My husband had a strange feeling about the missing passenger and casually brought it up, asking the flight attendant where the other man in first class had gone.

She looked at him like she didn’t know what he was talking about. He gave her the full details about seeing the passenger on board when he first arrived, and the flight attendant reiterated that there hadn’t been any passengers loaded before him—and no one with first-class tickets.

That’s when the flight attendant laughed nervously and said, “He wasn’t a ghost, was he?”

My husband didn’t answer her question, and they dropped it pretty quickly. He told me, “That kind of talk, especially on the job, can get you grounded quicker than showing up drunk.”

According to my husband, airplane hauntings are a common occurrence and are experienced more by the people who work in the industry because that’s their daily environment. When I asked him why someone would haunt a plane that hadn’t crashed, he told me that a lot of times, wreckage from air disasters is refurbished and reused to save money. This practice is done only with parts that haven’t been damaged.

He says airplane hauntings are talked about “in hushed tones” among the inner circle, but pilots and crew never report anything because their credibility and fitness for work could be called into question. If you think pilots not reporting UFOs out of fear they’ll lose their jobs is a big thing, it’s apparently even more taboo to say that you saw someone who wasn’t really there.

Needless to say, I can’t disclose what airline my husband works for because you never know who’s reading these stories and I can’t risk anyone figuring out his identity. Maybe one day when he retires and is no longer at risk of losing his credentials, I’ll be able to share more information. In the meantime, the next time you fly, keep an eye out for any passengers that look a little bit lost and weary. You might be looking at a ghost.

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