RAF Cosford: Haunted hangars or just another flight of fancy?
In a corner of Cosford’s RAF Museum, a visitor stared closely at this gleaming bomber and attempted to make sense of the ghostly scene before him.
Sitting in the cockpit appeared to be the spectre of a young pilot, fair-haired and clad in polo-necked sweater.
It was not the first time the bomber that refuses to die has been linked with things that go bump in the night.
Its ghost, say believers, include The Phantom Whistler and Pete the Poltergeist.
Other visitors have claimed to see a similarly dressed apparition walking around the hangar or the outline of a ghost, his features swathed in a flying helmet, in the cramped confines of the navigation dome.
In 1984, a shocked cameraman, filming for ITV holiday show Wish You Were Here, alleged to have encountered the spectre of a serviceman.
Seven years later, the Shropshire Star published a photograph taken by reader William Fletcher appearing to show a ghost in the rear gunner’s turret.
Look closely at our picture of Avro Lincoln RF398.
This is the world’s most haunted plane, a restored machine that has been at the centre of a string of paranormal investigations, made national headlines and spawned X-Files type TV documentaries.
This is Avro Lincoln RF398, a craft where instruments mysteriously spring into life, doors open and close.
Tales of the living dead seemed to have been truly debunked decades ago, when mischievous museum engineers admitted hatching a poltergeist plot to scupper plans to move the bomber from Cosford to Manchester Air and Space Museum. They concocted stories of spirits.
Yet the spirit sightings have continued long after the workers’ confession.
And they were given considerable gravitas when a BBC camera crew claimed to have seen the face of a spectre reflected in the cockpit glass behind reporter Maureen Carter.
Maureen amassed 30 witness accounts of “ghostly sightings” for the programme.
Phantom or fake news, visitors to the museum’s current exhibition marking the 80th anniversary of the Dambusters raid would do well to tread carefully when approaching Avro Lincoln RF398.
Respected Staffordshire war historians Richard Pursehouse and Ben Cunliffe have recently carried out their own investigation into the raft of claims and counter-claims. The duo’s conclusion? “The jury’s still out,” said Richard, from Cannock.
The undisputed fact is RF398, first flown in September, 1945, never saw combat. It was based at RAF Abingdon and moved to Cosford in the summer of 1968.
From there, the waters get more mudded, the story decidedly murkier.
Engineers got wind of the fact RF398 – a craft they’d lovingly cared for – was to be moved and decided to create the “ghost plane” legend.