Flight 191 2014 Investigation

The Ghost Research Society was the very first paranormal group to ever investigate and visit the crash site of Flight 191 in late June of 1979.

The worst airline disaster in American history occurred May 25, 1979 when American Airlines Flight 191 carrying 258 passengers and a crew of 13 fell from the sky killing all 271 people onboard.  The DC-10, took off from Runway 32 Right at 3:02 p.m. for a non-stop flight to Los Angeles, California.

At an altitude of 200 feet, while climbing and traveling a little more than 200 miles an hour, the left wing engine dropped onto or over the wing and bounced in flames along the concrete runway.  Witnesses said that after the engine fell off, the floundering craft went into a bank, nosed down and erupted into a pillar of flame as it hit the ground a half-mile northwest of the airport.

It slammed into an abandoned hangar on the site of the old Ravenswood Airport at 320 W. Touhy Avenue just east of the Touhy Mobile Home Park.  Two trailer homes were destroyed when hit by flaming debris.  Rescue workers found two bodies on the site of the Courtney-Velo Excavating Company.  They were believed to have been employees of the firm, which occupied one of the old hangars.

Captain Walter Lux, 53, was one of the most experienced DC-10 pilots in the airline; he had been flying the DC-10 since its introduction eight years earlier. He had around 22,000 hours logged, of which about 3,000 were in a DC-10. He was also qualified to pilot 17 other aircraft, including the DC-6, DC-7, and Boeing 727. First Officer James Dillard, 49, and Flight Engineer Alfred Udovich, 56, were also very experienced; they shared over 25,000 flying hours between them, of which 1,830 were in the DC-10.

The plane carried a number of Chicagoans bound for the convention of the American Booksellers Association in Los Angeles.  Among them were Sheldon Wax, 51, managing editor of Playboy magazine; his wife, author Judith Wax, 47; Playboy fiction editor Victoria Chen Haider, 34 and many others.

Among those who were supposed to be onboard Flight 191 were Lindsay Wagner (The Bionic Woman) and her mother.

"My mother and I were booked on that American Airlines DC-10 that crashed shortly after takeoff at the Chicago airport,” she said.  “But 10 minutes before we were due to get on I had a psychic flash that warned me of disaster.

“I begged my mother to change our flight and an hour later we learned that all 271 people onboard had been killed.  I haven’t doubted a single premonition since.”

There are those who’ve claimed to have visions or premonitions regarding a major airline disaster weeks or months before they happened.  In Cincinnati, Ohio, David Booth’s life was about to be turned upside down.

Before May 1979, David had led an average life.  He was married and raising a family.  He had never had psychic-type dreams before.  But one morning, he was jarred awake by a dream of an impending airline crash.

“On the morning of May 16th, I had a dream.  I’m looking out to my right over a field and there’s this great big jet and it wasn’t making the noise that it should.  It wasn’t a feeling of impending doom or that it was going to crash or anything.  It just wasn’t making the sound that it should.  It just turns, with its wing up in the air, goes on its back and then it goes straight into the ground and explodes.  When the explosion would begin to die out, that’s when I would begin to wake up,” he said.

The next night he went to bed exhausted hoping that this night was more restful and that he wouldn’t have the dream again.  He dreamt it again and when he woke up, he discovered that he had been crying.  The main feeling that he had was urgency.  Feeling compelled to do something; to act. 

 As the week progressed and the dream repeated itself every night, David found it harder to ignore but still kept the dream to himself. 

Tuesday, May 22nd, David had the dream for the seventh night in a row.  He felt that he could have no peace until he did something.  David contacted the Cincinnati office of the Federal Aviation Administration and spoke to facilities manager, Paul Williams.

“The first thing David described to me was the type of aircraft he thought it was.  First of all he identified it as an American Airlines plane.  I asked him if he knew specifically what type of aircraft it was but David didn’t know one type of aircraft from another,” says Williams. 

Williams asked David to search his dream in an effort to try to retrieve more information about the type of aircraft or any other details he could remember.  But each night it came back frustratingly the same.  All that week they spent hours reviewing the details.  He described an airplane with an engine on the tail rather than in the tail and Williams identified that as a DC-10.

At the start of the Memorial Day weekend, David had the dream for the tenth time.  Somehow he knew he would never have the dream again.  He was on the brink of a nervous collapse and went home early that day.  It was 4 o’clock; 3 o’clock at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport.

When Williams had received the news from Chicago, he was sure that what David Booth had described to him before the fact, had actually come to pass.  After David found out what had happened, he emotionally just fell apart.  He immediately telephoned Paul Williams.  Williams said that he believed that David was blaming himself for not getting enough information soon enough to avert the disaster. Williams, however, assured him that he had done everything that he could have.

Was David’s dream actually about the ill-fated crash of Flight 191?  All the facts seemed to add up including how the plane banked sharply to its left after losing an engine to nose-diving soon after takeoff.  Even the type and brand of airline was correct.  It is William’s opinion that David was chosen to receive this dream for some reason known only to God.

Author, Judith Wax was one of many who perished that day in 1979.  She was bound to Los Angeles to promote her new book, “Starting In The Middle” about the middle-age life.  An ironic twist of fate or coincidence can be found on page 191 of her book where she describes her fear of flying in airplanes. “When the job required travel, I developed such a fear of airplanes my head trembled from takeoff to landing...” Of course the flight was 191 the same as the page in her book!

Located at: near the trailer court at 320 W. Touhy Ave., Des Plaines, IL 60016

Hauntings: Since the crash, animals, especially dogs, in the nearby Touhy Mobile Home Park had barked constantly at the field where the crash occurred for no apparent reason.  Their owners could not see anything out of the ordinary that would disturb the animals to such a barking frenzy.

A more recent sighting was described a man walking his dog very near to where the plane went down.  A young man who was frantically trying to find a pay telephone to make an emergency phone call approached him.  The dog-walker remembered that the man had an offensive odor of jet fuel and seemed to be smoldering.  At first he assumed that the man had been jogging and that it was simply steam coming off his overheated body.  As he turned to point to a nearby telephone and turned back to the strange figure, he had disappeared into thin air!  There was absolutely nowhere for the figure to vanish in such a short space of time.

Allegedly the sounds of cries and moans emanate from the field where the crash occurred and sometimes the whine of a nearby engine followed by a crash.  Of course, nothing is visible to the naked eye.

Travelers coming through O’Hare Airport have purportedly seen a young man making a telephone call from a booth located close to the ill-fated departure gate of Flight 191.  He is alleged to take a few steps after finishing his call before vanishing in front of astonished eyes!

Some from the trailer court, very close to the crash site remember people knocking on their trailer doors in the middle of the night and when responding, find no one there.

Anywhere that so many lives are extinguished instantaneously can be a breeding ground for future paranormal activity.  I sincerely hope, however, that those unfortunate victims are at last at rest!

Equipment setup: No equipment was setup. We used hand held equipment only and Len brought the book Starting In The Middle by author Judith Wax who died on the plane.

Experiments performed: SB-7 Ghost Box and Ovilus X sessions were conducted at the gates of the trucking terminal which wasn’t there at the time of the crash but which marks more closely to where the demolished hanger would have been and also nearer to the crash site along the cyclone fencing as we were unable to gain actual access to the property. A Melmeter 8704-REM, Tri-Field Natural EM Meter, K-II Meter, digital recorder, REM Epod were employed.

A follow-up investigation was held on May 25, 2014. Team members included: Stan Suho, Katherine Meagher, and Dale Kaczmarek with help from Len Novak, and Aimee Jaremowicz of The Illinois Ghost Society.  









Personal experiences: I did not have any personal experiences on the day of the investigation and we did arrive shortly before the plane actually crashed. I was just amazed however at some of the real-time and interactive responses we received from the Ghost Box and the Ovilus X.

Katherine Meagher: May 25, 2014 was the 35-year anniversary of American Airlines Flight 191 crash just outside O’Hare Airport that claimed the lives of 271 people aboard and two on the ground. The DC-10 reached just 325 feet before plummeting at 3:04 p.m.  

I, Kat, met Dale and Stan and two of their colleges at 2:30 pm for an investigation close to the crash. Dale had his ghost box, which we used for the EVP sessions along with my digital recorder and camera.  

Even though I cannot report much with the camera, Dale’s ghost box was getting quite a few hits meaning, specific answers to the questions being asked. My recorder picked up a few whisper responses but very hard to hear. The noise from a combination of planes, cars wind and the ghost box made it very difficult to hear; I managed to pick up a thing or two. I am still listening to the recordings though it is almost deafening.  

I do understand why night investigation runs a little smother. During the day the excess noise makes it hard to hear the quiet voices as they respond to questioning.

All in all, it was a great experience with my team leaders trudging alone to educate me in the realm of paranormal investigating.  

Digital Camera, Sony Cyber shot

Digital Tape recorder, Olympus VN-702pc  

Stan Suho: After 35 years this is still a strange active location. On this our second visit the three of us were joined by two members of another group. We could not gain access to the actual crash site, but were very close, separated by a chain link fence. No setup was attempted because it was midday. I brought along my 35 mm camera, VHS Camcorder, and Sony Digital Camera. Dale brought along several EVP devices and we began our investigation. We were located right up next to the fence line. After making a walk around with the Camcorder, I switched to the Sony Digital and began taking pictures. Dale and the others in the group began doing EVP experiments. We spent about an hour on this before packing up. In talks with Dale he told me of some great EVPs captured this time and last.

This place appears to have a lot of energy associated with it and we always get exciting EVPs. Gee if we could only get on site at night with IR Cameras and a full setup, there is no telling what might turn up. This site should be on everyone’s short list for a good investigation location. RIP FLT 191.


Evidence collected:

191 flight 191.MPG – while conducting a Ghost Box session a question was asked, “Can you tell us the flight number it was?” The Ghost Box responds with, “191.”

American flight 191.MPG – while conducting a Ghost Box session a question was asked, “What airline was you on?” The Ghost Box responds with a female-sounding voice, “American.”

Cpt Lux flight 191.MPG – while conducting a fast FM Ghost Box session, a question was asked, “Who are we talking to?” The Ghost Box responds with, “Captain Lux.”

Horrible flight 191.MPG – while conducting an Ovilus X session, the device suddenly says, “Horrible.”

Lux flight 191.MPG – while conducting a Ghost Box session, a question was asked, “Who was flying the plane at the time of the crash?” The Ghost Box responds with, “Lux.”

Really flight 191.MPG – while conducting an EVP session a comment was made, “Many people gave you credit for keeping it in the air as long as you did, trying to save those passengers.” A Class A male EVP voice is recorded and says, “Really!”

South flight 191.MPG – while conducting a Ghost Box session, a question was asked, “Where were you going? Can you tell us the direction when you crashed?” The Ghost Box responds with, “South.”

Wax flight 191.MPG – while conducting a Ghost Box session, a question was asked, “What is your last name? (Referring to Judith Wax)” The Ghost Box responds with, “Wax.”

Yeah flight 191.MPG – while conducting an Ovilus X session, a question was asked, “Can you touch your book if you are here?” The Ovilus responds with, “Yeah.” 

Conclusions:  This location just continues to produce top quality evidence especially on the actual date of the crash. It would be interesting to try some sessions and experiments on other days of the year and, of course, much closer to the actual crash site to see if additional evidence could be collected. I truly believe that there could be interactive spirits still lingering at this location and maybe even some residual activity when people and investigators visit the site on the actual date of the crash.

We will continue to visit and attempt to garner permission to visit closer to where the plane actually went down for next year.

There is a memorial for all the victims of the crash of American Airlines Flight 191 in Lake Park at the corner of Lee and Howard Streets in Des Plaines directly behind the big sign that says Lake Park.

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