The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.- - - H. P. Lovecraft
The story is "Phantom Bomber" of Longdendale, from which a story in Haunted Britain and Ireland, the details are crafted. On the high moors of England, such as Bleaklow, numerous wrecked airplanes litter the rugged terrain, remnants of more than fifty aircraft that have crashed into the peaks during and after WWII. One such pile of tortured debris is all that remains of a US B29 that crashed in 1948 taking with it the souls of it's 13 crew. It is said that the ghost of it's pilot, Captain Tanner, has been spotted casually looking around the wreckage.
There is the endless speculation that this and the other crashes were caused by the area's strangest phenomena, the "Longdendale Lights".These strange, ethereal, flickering balls of blue flame were known to the locals as the "devil's bonfires" and were attributed to either fairy folk or evil witches, with records of their appearing going back as far as the 16th century. Even today their source has managed to evade the sophisticated equipment of professional mountain rescue teams. In 1998 the residents of a youth hostel witnessed a brilliant blue light that illuminated the entire district and lasted for more than three minutes. Drivers on nearby highways have been known to swerve, mistaking the lights for an oncoming car. Others, thinking the lights were the distress flares of an injured hiker or climber, would frequently call out EMS services, all of whom have grown long accustomed to the flickering lights fading slowly away as they get closer to them. It has been suggested that the pilots of the crashed planes may have mistaken the lights for beacons meant to guide their planes and followed them into permanent stony, silence.
In late 1997 as the stories of Captain Tanner and his lost aircraft faded into local folklore, two women, out on the high moors for some star gazing, were surprised by the sudden emergence from a empty sky, of a low flying airplane in the sky that disappearing around one of the peaks. The same aircraft was witnessed by a farmer, as it flew so low over him he dove for the ground. Only moments later, several others heard the sound of a plane crashing and saw an orange glow light up the sky. A search party was quickly organized based on the many reports and a mountain rescue team plus a RAF helicopter, searched ever square inch of the moorland, for an airplane that was never reported as missing. Whatever the witnesses had seen had apparently vanished into the dark night - And the stores began anew. Had the "Phantom Bomber"of Longdendale returned?
The final words of two experienced crews in Sabres in 1954 only add to the mystery. The brand new aircraft were flying in the Peak District, the pilots flying in low cloud, with the latest in navigation gear. "Where are we?" asked one pilot". "I'm not sure" said the second. And then as they apparently spotted a third aircraft, the second pilot gave the order that would fly them into their fate. "Just follow the other jet through the cloud". Since no other planes were known to be flying in the area at the time, many people wonder if they were perhaps lured to their deaths by the appearance of the Phantom Bomber. Many will chalk it up to spatial disorientation, in the frequent and sometimes surprising low fog that is common to the area, and that would be easy to do. Hundreds, if not thousands, of scientific attempts have been made to explain such an event. The results are always inconclusive and distract us from what a ghost story really is.
Few people truly believe that headless ghosts haunt Celtic castles, that restless spirits chase the shadows in every abandoned old farmhouse. But sitting in a darkening room, in a facility that is completely empty but for key personnel, as the winds of Autumn brew around shuttered windows, one can't help but summon up the genuine wonder for those things that are never truly explained. I believe that despite our outward desire for explanation and logic, most members of the public would rather tell stories of haunted hills and ghost airplanes then listen to a dry litany of special disorientation, ground fog and fuel starvation.
For despite our modern conveniences, our science and technology, can we not be surprised that modern man still feels that shadowed belief in spirits, haunting those places in which they were once so affected, when we ourselves scarcely separate ourselves from past lives and past longing, ever hovering over bygone times and all their emotions, in late night, darkened hours, lingering in the past places in which we were loved. Hoping in the dark misty hills of our hearts, we will remember and be remembered.
For despite our technology, we are still dreamers. Certainly I know one half Celt, half Norse woman that is, even if she is still a big kid at heart.
Goblin Gorp - recipe on the sidebar
As Shakespeare said.: We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.
Whether our dreams are that of coherent order and forensic logic or haunting memory of those places we wish we could revisit, I can't help but think just how small my being is. How infinitesimal within the world's workings, the grand chaotic design. As I pour another cup of tea, I'll light a small lamp, for suddenly I feel very insignificant. Insignificant and small, as moonlight flits amongst the shroud of Spanish moss, the wind tapping on the window like a ghostly finger, the night but one last lamenting kiss.
Happy Halloween ! - Brigid and Barkley