I’ve been an airport security officer for 10 years now. In my line of work I meet and see many strange and interesting people. Unfortunately in some cases, I meet dangerous people. I’ve seen about all there is to see, and foolishly thought that humans are what we should fear most. Last month, my understanding of what I should fear was shaken to the core.
Hanger #12 houses our planes that are not quite ready to fly. Most of these have some minor maintenance issues that have yet to be addressed, and some have been fixed but haven’t undergone the inspections to be flight-ready. Anyway, it was at this very hangar that a maintenance worker reported hearing strange noises. The first time he heard an unidentified noise from outside the hangar. The second time, he was inside the hangar but not close enough to say what it was he heard. Apparently though, it was coming from inside one of the planes.
“It was loud, whatever it was.” John said nervously. “Maybe in contrast to the quiet at the time, but I didn’t imagine it. Out of nowhere, I heard what sounded like shouting from inside the plane.”
“Actual voices this time?” I inquired.
The previous reports were laughed off as there was not a specific sound identified. It could be easily dismissed as anything...or nothing. When John came to me the second time, I thought he’d just been working too much. But now, with the same person reporting the same a third time, I had to acknowledge it as a pattern. And the more I thought about it, John was a straight shooter. But still, he could just be hearing things.
“Look, I know what I heard! I’m not crazy. Go check it out, please. There could be people squatting in there...or who else knows what? All I know is, I’m not spending another minute working on that plane until I know what keeps making noise in there.”
His sincerity coupled with the possibility of some stowaway meant one thing...I was obliged to check. He hadn't made an official report because he knew how it sounded. Apparently, he felt comfortable enough with me to tell me about it. So I gave it some thought.
No one was working near him at the time, and it was dark outside. This meant a high likelihood of someone skulking around unnoticed, and if it was someone’s idea of some ridiculous prank, we still had to take unauthorized personnel seriously. So I consoled him with a pat on the shoulder and told him I’d take a look.
“Oh, and tell somebody to fix the damn heat in there while you’re at it!” He shouted after me as I walked away. I gave him a dismissive wave and left. He was generally grouchy and probably annoyed that I wasn't taking him too seriously until now. He was most likely yapping his jaw to let out his frustration.
Walking into the housing area, I did get sort of a spooky vibe. This was set out further from the bustle of the airport's main hub. Hangar 12 was near the back, with woods bordering most of the fenced area. In fact the closer I got to the hangar, the more I felt unsettled. The atmosphere combined with a possible intruder started making me feel on edge, and I gripped my flashlight tighter in my hand as I walked into the hangar.
“Hello?” I called, met with no reply. I methodically worked my way to the plane John heard the noise coming from, and called out once again. No reply. I looked down and saw the set of tools John was using, which looked as if he discarded them rather quickly.
The clunk of my boots echoed loudly as I ascended the stairs, and I laid my palm against the holster of my firearm.
As I stepped into the fuselage, I immediately felt my body tense at the drop in temperature. John wasn’t badgering me, it really was freezing in here. It didn’t make any sense though...there was no temperature regulation in here. There was only A/C in the hangar, and it felt fairly warm before I set foot inside the plane.
Pushing aside the oddities, I slowly swept the beam of my flashlight back and forth over the seating area. I slowly made my way down the aisle, shining under the seats and into any nooks or crannies someone might be hiding in. I repeated this process until I went through the first class area to no avail.
The eeriness of the quiet must have gotten to me, because I felt my pulse quicken as I approached the separation curtain that led into coach. The shtick! noise of the curtain sliding was louder than it should have, practically echoing throughout the cabin.
I went through the same method in coach as I did in first class, only I felt more unnerved as I made my way to the end. What was it that John heard? Was someone actually stowing away somewhere, waiting to pounce on an unsuspecting victim? I brushed the relentless thoughts aside, focusing on the task at hand.
I made it all the way down the coach aisle and to a small alcove with cabinets for blankets and the like. Opening them up, I found nothing suspicious or any indication that someone had been messing around. There was a small hatch used for additional storage...someone could hole up in there if they wanted to. But how....it was so tight in there you could hardly breathe? In any case, I felt obliged to check. My gun ready, I pulled the hatch up and looked inside...nothing.
Breathing a sigh of relief, I turned back around to leave. There was nothing more to check, and I would soon be telling John to stop this nonsense with imaginary sounds. And that was when it happened...
I stepped out of the alcove and shone my light into the coach cabin when my torch light reflected off....someone’s head? Very confused, I braced myself as I darted the beam around to survey the cabin, hoping it was a weird trick of the light. My mind raced with the horrific realization. Every....single...seat......was full.
My body was showered in cold prickles, causing me to shudder. This didn’t make any sense. There was absolutely NO ONE here. I didn’t see or hear anyone--or anything--move. They were all just...there. I stood for a moment in shock and awe, rubbing my eyes to make sure I wasn’t seeing things. But nothing changed.
The first course of action that came to mind was the one everyone does in the horror movies when they think someone’s in their house. Yet, as silly as it was, I did it anyway.
“Who’s...there?” I called, my voice sounding way meeker than intended.
As if to answer me, my radio made an ear-piercing whine...and I fumbled the controls to turn it off. Yet, no matter what I did...the squealing continued. Then....my radio went completely silent. I tried the controls again, but it seemed to be dead.
“My radio’s acting up. Does anyone hear me?” I said with the talk button mashed.
Not only did no one answer, the silence in the plane got more....silent. I can’t explain it any better than that. It was like a vacuum....like all the air was sucked out of the room. Another moment passed in eerie silence as I stood there waiting for an answer.
I fell to the floor so quick I didn’t even register it happening. I was standing there one second, then I was on the floor looking up the next. Every single one of the passengers had stood up and began screaming at full force...
And as quickly as they had appeared....they were gone.
I slowly pulled myself up using a nearby armrest. I gulped and nervously looked around once more. All the passengers were no longer there, just as before. Then I heard my radio chirp to life.
“Yeah, we hear you loud and clear.”
“Okay, thanks. Just checking. My radio’s...being a bit buggy.”
There was no way I was telling them anything about what just happened.
Feeling as if I had awoken from a dream, I sauntered out of the airplane, left the hangar, and made my way back to my post where John awaited me.
“So? What’d you find?” Before I could even begin, John had already summed me up. “You heard something, didn’t you?”
“What I’m about to tell you doesn’t leave the two of us.” I whispered. “No one’ll believe me anyway. And they might throw me into the nuthouse while they’re at it.”
So I relayed the entire story to John, who listened with ripe anticipation. He believed me, and even confirmed that the screaming did sound like a lot of people. But what did it all mean? The entire rest of my shift, I was plagued by the experience and wondered exactly what it was I saw. It took me less than a week of research to figure it out.
There’s times I wonder if I should have been a detective. If there’s a problem or a situation that doesn’t make sense, I sink my teeth into it like a pit bull. I can’t let go of it, not even I tried. And this experience was no different. This is what I was able to find.
The plane that John was working on turned out to be up-cycled. I looked up all the parts that were used for it. Because it matched so well, they used a lot of recycled parts of one particular aircraft from the boneyard. Turns out that the plane those parts came from had crashed years ago, killing every single passenger on board.
The temperature, the air feeling like a vacuum, the screams.....it all came together now.
I had been given a small glimpse into those poor victim’s last moments in life, and in the process, changed mine forever....