The Ghosts of Crash Canyon

Written by on October 24, 2011 in AZ History & Heritage - Comments Off on The Ghosts of Crash Canyon

In June 1956, two airplanes (United Flight 718 and TWA Flight 2) took off from California — one bound for Chicago, the other for Kansas City. When the flights began, both pilots were well apart from each other, but as they flew across the southern U.S., both pilots climbed to 21,000 feet and had to begin weaving to avoid the summer thunderstorms that were forming. In addition, in those days it was not unusual for pilots to maneuver their planes to give passengers a better look at beautiful scenery. It is believed that the planes passed to each side of the same cloud formation as they crossed over the Grand Canyon, thus setting the stage for one of the worst air disaster in American aviation history.

As the pilots rounded the storm, the two planes collided. Cabin pressure was lost instantly and no doubt some of the passengers were immediately sucked out of the cabin to experience 45-seconds of free fall before plunging to their deaths in the Grand Canyon. All 128 passengers and crew of both planes died that day and the remains of the planes landed in what is now called Crash Canyon. A canyon that today is said to be very haunted.

Witnesses have experience the sound of wind rushing down the canyon walls toward, where no wind exists. As the phantom wind rushes past, the winds mutates into the sound of many garbled voices. In addition, rangers and hikers who camp in Crash Canyon sometimes see ghosts hiking these trails and talking amongst themselves. There have also been reports of cries for help, and eerie lights moving along where there are no trails.

Because flight standards were extremely loose in 1956, at first no one was sure what happened. When the planes failed to report in, they were declared missing, but again, no one was sure where the planes had been. It took nearly 24 hours before both wrecks were discovered, and due to the remoteness of Crash Canyon, it took days to recover the bodies, most of which were unidentified due to the exceptional severity of the ground impacts.
On July 9, 1956, a mass funeral was held on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Twenty-nine unidentified victims of the United flight were interred in four coffins at the Grand Canyon Cemetery. Sixty-six of the seventy TWA passengers and crew are interred in a mass grave at Citizen’s Cemetery in Flagstaff, Arizona.

The American public was horrified by the extent of the tragedy and the outcry was loud for the government to do something. As a direct result of this crash, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was formed. The FAA was given unprecedented and total authority over the control of American airspace, including military activity, and as procedures and ATC facilities were modernized, airborne collisions gradually subsided. Planes were now required to carry black boxes and to stick to filed flight plans.

Sadly, for the passengers of both flights, the changes came too late, and perhaps their spirits yet haunt the remote regions of the Grand Canyon.

Table of Contents for the Haunted Southwest Series:
Haunted Hotel: The Stanley Hotel, Colorado
The Vulture Mine, Wickenburg, Arizona
Haunted Hotel: The San Carlos, Phoenix, Arizona
The Haunted Shores of the Great Salt Lake, Utah
Haunted Tombstone, Arizona
Haunted Mines: Ghost, Goblins and Tommy Knockers, Southwest
Ghost Camels of the Southwest
Haunted Dawson Cemetary, New Mexico
Haunted Inn: Who Haunts the Brook Forest Inn, Colorado
Halloween in Jerome, Arizona
The Mystery of the Missing Locomotive, Colorado
The Ghost of La Posada Resort and Spa
Ogden and Salt Lake City Ghost Tours
The Ghosts of the Copper Queen
The Redstone Castle
Highway to Hell
Ghost Train at Golden Spike

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