“HORROR IN THE SKIES” and More Terrifying True Stories! #WeirdDarkness
Listen to ““HORROR IN THE SKIES” and More Terrifying True Stories! #WeirdDarkness” on Spreaker.
IN THIS EPISODE: They say it’s actually safer to fly than to drive on our country’s highways – and seeing how Chicagoans drive, I might tend to believe it. But when something goes wrong in your car, you don’t plunge 30,000 feet to your demise. And while it may be safer than driving, there are still a lot of things that can not go as planned and leave you screaming towards your doom. (Scares in the Skies) *** Sightings of a strange flying creature have been reported in Maryland since back in the 1700s… but even stranger is the unfortunate name this creature has been tagged with. What the heck is a Snallygaster? (What The Heck Is a Snallygaster?) *** Of course, more can go wrong on a flight than just you dying – although that probably should be at the top of the list of things to avoid when traveling by air. But some other strange and bizarre things have also happened in the skies that might make you re-book your next vacation on a train instead. (It Happened Mid-Flight) *** In many cultures there are stories of screaming skulls haunting and terrorizing people. What could this phenomenon be, and are all the incidents related? (The Screaming Skulls)
SOURCES AND REFERENCES FROM THE EPISODE…
“What The Heck Is a Snallygaster?” by Kathy Weiser-Alexander for LegendsOfAmerica.com:https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/75e9z8ay
“Scares in the Skies” by Christopher Dale for ListVerse.com: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/2ta9ezmj
“It Happened Mid-Flight” by Shannon Quinn for ListVerse.com: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/f784t3jb
“The Screaming Skulls” from MJWayland.com: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/2bby8vzx
Weird Darkness theme by Alibi Music Library.
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Originally aired: July 05, 2021
DISCLAIMER: Ads heard during the podcast that are not in my voice are placed by third party agencies outside of my control and should not imply an endorsement by Weird Darkness or myself. *** Stories and content in Weird Darkness can be disturbing for some listeners and intended for mature audiences only. Parental discretion is strongly advised.
Welcome, Weirdos – (I’m Darren Marlar and) this is Weird Darkness. Here you’ll find stories of the paranormal, supernatural, legends, lore, the strange and bizarre, crime, conspiracy, mysterious, macabre, unsolved and unexplained.
Coming up in this episode…
Sightings of a strange flying creature have been reported in Maryland since back in the 1700s… but even stranger is the unfortunate name this creature has been tagged with. What the heck is a Snallygaster? (What The Heck Is a Snallygaster?)
They say it’s actually safer to fly than to drive on our country’s highways – and seeing how Chicagoans drive, I might tend to believe it. But when something goes wrong in your car, you don’t plunge 30,000 feet to your demise. And while it may be safer than driving, there are still a lot of things that can not go as planned and leave you screaming towards your doom. (Scares in the Skies)
Of course, more can go wrong on a flight than just you dying – although that probably should be at the top of the list of things to avoid when traveling by air. But some other strange and bizarre things have also happened in the skies that might make you re-book your next vacation on a train instead. (It Happened Mid-Flight)
In many cultures there are stories of screaming skulls haunting and terrorizing people. What could this phenomenon be, and are all the incidents related? (The Screaming Skulls)
If you’re new here, welcome to the show! While you’re listening, be sure to check out WeirdDarkness.com for merchandise, to visit sponsors you hear about during the show, sign up for my newsletter, enter contests, connect with me on social media, listen to my other podcasts like “Retro Radio: Old Time Radio In The Dark”, “Church of the Undead” and a classic 1950’s sci-fi style podcast called “Auditory Anthology,” plus, you can visit the Hope in the Darkness page if you’re struggling with depression or dark thoughts. You can find all of that and more at WeirdDarkness.com.
Now.. bolt your doors, lock your windows, turn off your lights, and come with me into the Weird Darkness!
STORY: WHAT THE HECK IS A SNALLYGASTER?=====
For centuries, a large winged beast known as the Snallygaster is said to have terrified the people of Frederick County, Maryland. The dragon-like beast is described as being a half-reptile and half-bird that lives deep in the caves of South Mountain. The mysterious creature is said to swoop silently down from the sky, stealing farm animals and children from the unsuspecting farm folk. Some say it’s real.
The area was settled by German immigrants beginning in the 1730s, who called the creature a Schneller Geist, meaning “quick spirit” in German. The earliest folklore mixes the half-bird features with nightmarish features of demons and ghouls.
Other descriptions describe the beast as half-reptile, half-bird with a metallic-like beak lined with razor-sharp teeth. Sometimes it is described as having octopus-like tentacles. The earliest stories claim that this monster sucked the blood of its victims.
The Snallygaster has one widely known enemy, called Dwayyo. The Dwayyo is reported to be a mammalian biped with features similar to a wolf, but the stance and stature of a human. The Dwayyo and the Snallygaster have reportedly had vicious encounters dating back to the early settlement of the Middletown Valley.
For years, the Snallygaster lived only on the pages of folklore until 1909 when stories of the beast began to appear in newspapers. Encounters between local residents and the winged-creature in February and March 1909 described it as having “enormous wings, a long pointed bill, claws like steel hooks, and an eye in the center of its forehead.” Further, it was said to make screeches “like a locomotive whistle.”
A February 1909 article claimed that a man had been seized by the winged creature, which proceeded to sink its teeth into his jugular and drain the body of blood before dropping it along a hillside.
The story was carried prominently in Middletown, Maryland’s Valley Register, and soon spread far and wide, so much so that the Smithsonian Institution offered a reward for the hide and U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt reportedly considered postponing an international trip to personally hunt the beast.
In the early issues, the flying beast seemed to be everywhere at once.
In New Jersey, it was reported that its footprints were first discovered in the snow. In West Virginia, it was said that the flying beast almost caught a woman near Scrabble, was found roosting in a farmer’s barn and laid an egg the size of a barrel near Sharpsburg,
A man in Casstown, Ohio, wrote a letter to the Valley Register, telling of a strange creature that flew over his area making terrible screeching noises. He described it as having two huge wings, a large horny head, and a tail 20 feet long.
In Maryland, it was first sighted by a man who operated a brick-burning kiln near Cumberland. Spied near the kiln sleeping, when it awoke, it emitted a blood-curdling scream and angrily flew away. It was also sighted near Hagerstown, south of Middletown at Lover’s Leap, and seen flying over the mountains between Gapland and Burkittsville, where it was reported to have laid another very large egg. The last sighting in Frederick County occurred in March 1909 where three men fought the creature outside a railroad station for nearly an hour and a half before chasing it into the woods of Carroll County.
Afterward, there were no more sightings of the mysterious creature for the next 23 years, at which time, it once again appeared in Frederick County, Maryland. The first reports said the “bird” was seen just below South Mountain in Washington County.
It was surmised at the time, that as the life expectancy of a Snallygaster was estimated at about 20 years, the new sightings were from the offspring of the 1909 creature.
At this time, the Middletown Valley Register requested that local residents who spied the creature should provide as accurate and detailed a description as possible for scientific purposes.
Two residents soon reported having seen it just east of Braddock Heights, flying about 25 feet overhead, confirming the descriptions published the previous week.
The next thing heard of the Snallygaster, is that it had died in Washington County when it was overcome by the fumes of a moonshine still and fell from the sky into the 2500-gallon vat of alcohol. According to the story, revenue agents soon arrived and destroyed both the vat and the carcass of the beast.
No appearances have been reported since.
Coming up, they say it’s actually safer to fly than to drive on our country’s highways – and seeing how Chicagoans drive, I might tend to believe it. But when something goes wrong in your car, you don’t plunge 30,000 feet to your demise. And while it may be safer than driving, there are still a lot of things that can not go as planned and leave you screaming towards your doom. That’s up next on Weird Darkness.
STORY: SCARES IN THE SKIES=====
“Good day everyone. This is your captain speaking. We’ll be leaving the gate shortly for our three-hour flight. The weather looks fine, so we should be looking at a smooth, comfortable ride.” Well yeah, unless he doesn’t de-ice the wings before takeoff. Or gets disoriented and thinks the ocean is the horizon. Or misses the runway at landing. Or… well… here are a few ways that pilot might kill us all. Please brace for impact.
It takes a special pilot to get passengers killed before even attempting a takeoff. On December 3, 1990, at Detroit’s Wayne County Airport, Northwest Airlines Flight 1482 – piloted by Captain William Lovelace and First Officer James Schifferns – was set to depart from Pittsburgh with 40 passengers. The day was notable for its dense, low-hanging fog, but nothing the DC-9 couldn’t quickly outclimb. Departing its gate, Flight 1482 headed for Runway 03C… but instead turned onto another taxiway. To correct the error, they were instructed to make a right to double back. Apparently not satisfied with one dumb mistake, Lovelace and Schifferns instead somehow managed to turn directly onto the active runway. They realized the mistake and contacted air traffic control, who (duh) told them to leave the runway immediately. Five seconds later, Northwest Flight 299, a Boeing 727 taking off en route to Memphis, came barreling toward them. The 727’s wing sliced through the right side of Flight 1482, cutting through the fuselage just below the windows. It then chopped off the DC-9’s right engine. Flight 299’s pilot – who, it must be said, performed phenomenally – initiated a rejected takeoff, and stopped the aircraft safely. Its 146 passengers and 8 crew were all unhurt. The DC-9 caught fire and was destroyed. Seven passengers and one flight attendant died, with another 10 seriously injured. In addition to Lovelace’s culpability, the ensuing investigation criticized the airport’s control tower for “failure to use progressive taxi instructions in low visibility.”
Making sure ice hasn’t accumulated on an airplane’s wings is such a crucial and common occurrence that, even back in the comparably cowboyish 1980s, commercial cockpits contained clearly marked Ice Protection Systems. Unfortunately, Captain Larry M. Wheaton managed to overlook this standard pre-flight checklist item despite more than 8,000 hours of airtime under his belt… and despite the fact that it was snowing. On the afternoon of January 13, 1982, Washington DC’s National Airport was just reopening after a deluge of the same white stuff currently accruing on the wings of Wheaton’s Air Florida Flight 90, bound for Fort Lauderdale with 74 passengers. The experienced pilot he was, Wheaton recognized his error shortly after leaving the gate. But instead of returning for proper de-icing, he and First Officer Roger Pettit had a novel idea: to use the exhaust from the plane ahead of them in the takeoff queue to defrost the wings. How resourceful. The shockingly unsound judgment didn’t stop there. Wheaton decided to proceed with takeoff even after his impromptu de-icing attempt predictably failed—AND after detecting a power problem while taxiing. Flight 90 took off and began climbing… to about 350 feet. Then it lost lift. The Boeing 737 dropped from the sky and slammed into an overpass before plunging into the Potomac River. Seventy passengers and four crew members died, including both pilots. Four motorists on the ground also were killed. Only five survivors were plucked by helicopter from the frigid river, though as many as 19 likely survived the initial crash.
On August 20, 2008, Captain Antonio Garcia Luna and First Officer Francisco Javier Mulet did everything right, then everything wrong. Unfortunately, the latter was irredeemable. SpanAir Flight 5022 was a McDonnell Douglas MD-82 carrying 166 passengers and six crew from Barcelona to Madrid. It was scheduled to leave an hour earlier than it did, as the pilots had wisely abandoned a departure due to an excessive reading from the ram air temperature (RAT) probe. The aircraft was taken to a parking area, where maintenance workers deactivated the RAT probe’s heater, which was fine since no ice buildup would occur on a fair-weather August day in Spain. Then Luna and Mulet BOTH forgot to deploy the flaps and slats required for takeoff. Without these “high-lift” devices, the wings could not generate enough lift to keep the aircraft airborne. It didn’t help that the warning system malfunctioned, failing to alert the crew of their mission-critical mistake. Flight 5022 left the ground momentarily, rolled sharply to the right, and smashed into the ground beside the runway. The wings separated and the fuselage snapped into two parts, the larger of which was engulfed by fire. The asinine accident killed 154 people. Only 18 survived.
On June 1, 2009, Air France Flight 447 took off from Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro Airport en route to Paris. The Airbus A330 was carrying 216 passengers and 12 crew – including three flight-trained officers rather than the typical two. The flight comprised 13 hours of duty, and Air France’s policy was that pilots can serve no more than ten hours before taking a break. The extra First Officer allowed for two qualified personnel to fly the plane at all times. Captain Marc DuBois took the mid-flight break shift, while the plane was over the Atlantic Ocean. Just 15 minutes later, First Officer David Robert summoned him back. During his brief absence, the plane had entered turbulent airspace and was also accruing wing ice. The plane had begun to stall, and the two pilots – neither of whom were captains – reacted incorrectly. Just before DuBois reentered the cockpit, co-First Officer Pierre-Cédric Bonin exclaimed: “[Expletive] I don’t have control of the airplane any more now!” DuBois’ first words upon returning were not encouraging. Noticing the various alarms going off, he asked, “er… what are you (doing)?” The aircraft had its nose above the horizon but was descending steeply. Soon after this, Robert said “climb” four consecutive times. Bonin replied, “But I’ve been at maximum nose-up for a while!” When Captain Dubois heard this, he realized Bonin was causing the stall, and shouted, “No, don’t climb! No! No! No!” Flight 447 crashed into the ocean, killing everyone aboard. Had a Captain-level pilot been in the cockpit, it never would have happened.
It should be far harder to kill 264 people than 26-year-old First Officer Chuang Meng-jung’s simple error. On April 26, 1994, he and Captain Wang Lo-chi were in the home stretch of China Airlines Flight 140 from Taipei, Taiwan to Nagoya, Japan. The flight had been uneventful, and the Airbus A300 was descending into Nagoya on time and at a safe angle. That all changed just three miles from the runway. At an altitude of 1,000 feet, First Officer Meng-jung inadvertently selected the takeoff/go-around setting, which at that height is instructing the plane’s aircraft’s autopilot to increase the throttles for a second pass at a landing. The crew reacted by manually reducing the throttles and pushing the yoke forward. But the autopilot, acting on the inadvertent go-around command, countered by increasing its own efforts to overcome the pilot’s actions. It moved the horizontal stabilizer to a full nose-up position. Still unaware of the autopilot’s go-around command, the crew then independently decided to go-around. The result was a compounded action that raised the plane’s nose far too high. The steep pitch caused an aerodynamic stall, and Flight 140 dropped like a brick. Only seven of the plane’s 271 occupants lived.
Crashing into another bad pilot in mid-air. What are the chances, right? Well apparently, up until the mid-1950s they were quite good. Then one collision led to much-needed changes. On June 30, 1956, a TWA Super Constellation and a United DC-7, carrying a combined 128 people, collided over the Grand Canyon in Arizona at 21,000 feet. The TWA plane’s tail was sheared off, while most of the United flight’s left wing was severed. The TWA Super Constellation plunged in a near-vertical dive, crashing onto a plateau 300 feet above the Colorado River. The United DC-7 sputtered another mile or so before slamming into a butte and careening into a rugged gulch. Everyone perished. It doesn’t seem difficult for two planes to avoid each other in the air (especially in the less crowded skies of the mid-20th Century), but such midair massacres had become a trend. A 1956 “Aviation Week” article noted that, between 1948 and 1955 there were 127 midair collisions in the US, 30 of which involved commercial airliners. In the aftermath of the TWA-United disaster, investigators determined that, although the pilots had simply failed to see each other (really? HOW?), America’s antiquated air traffic control system was also a factor. Fallout from the accident led directly to the 1957 formation of the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board.
It‘s a bit harsh to call the crew of Eastern Airlines Flight 401 dim bulbs, but this might be the flat-out stupidest reason a commercial airliner ever crashed. On December 29, 1972, Flight 401 – a Lockheed TriStsr carrying 163 passengers and 13 crew members from NYC’s John F. Kennedy Airport – was beginning its approach into Miami. Upon lowering the landing gear, First Officer Albert Stockstill noticed that the gear indicator – a green light confirming the nose gear is locked in place – had not illuminated. There were three trained commercial aviators on the flight: First Officer Stockstill, Flight Engineer Donald Repo, and Captain Robert Loft, a 32-year veteran. Loft told the Miami flight tower about the landing gear situation, and received permission to go into a holding pattern at 2,000 feet. He sent Repo down to the avionics bay to report on the landing gear’s position, then told Stockstill to engage the autopilot while they removed the light assembly. Only the autopilot was on the wrong setting. Instead of circling at a steady altitude, it descended so gradually that no one noticed until the plane crashed into the Everglades. Loft’s final words, recorded 10 seconds before the crash, were “Hey, what’s happening here?” Oh nothing, Captain. You’re just getting everyone killed because none of the three pilots are looking out the goddamned window. 101 people died. The landing gear indicator issue was later determined to be a simple burned-out bulb. And even if it wasn’t, the gear could have been lowered manually.
Despite the comparative complexity of the landing process, modern cockpit instruments significantly simplify its execution, making both approach and touchdown as automated as possible. Such tools have helped make air travel the safest means of transportation. Unless, of course, the pilot misuses them. On February 9, 2009, Captain Marvin Renslow and a scarily young First Officer, 24-year-old Rebecca Shaw, were beginning their descent into Buffalo, New York on Colgan Air Flight 3407 from Newark, New Jersey. The Bombardier Dash-8 was carrying 49 passengers – a packed flight for the relatively small commercial aircraft. Upstate New York is frigid in winter, and the airline’s policy called for landings to be performed manually in conditions likely to cause ice accumulation on wings. Despite this, Renslow kept the plane on autopilot as it slowed for landing. And slowed. And slooowed… until the shaker stick, a warning system intended to jolt the pilot to attention, warned of an impending midair stall. Renslow – who should have already been manually guiding the aircraft – responded by abruptly pulling back on the control column and increasing thrust to 75% power – neither of which was right. The proper stall recovery technique is lowering the nose and applying full power. Flight 3407 pitched up, down, left and then rolled violently right. It crashed into a house and burst into flames, killing everyone on board and one on the ground. Notably, the flight became a rallying call for pilots to receive more rest between flights, as fatigue was among the factors blamed for Renslow’s deadly mistakes.
Nearly half of all fatal crashes happen during final descent and landing, by far the most dangerous leg. As the plane descends, the most important job for a pilot is to ensure the aircraft’s angle and alignment head directly onto the runway. On September 27, 1977, the captain of Japan Airlines Flights 715 was attempting to do just that as the plane approached Malaysia’s Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport. The weather was poor, so Flight 715 was on a VOR approach, which provides lateral guidance until the plane reaches its MDA, or Minimum Descent Altitude. From there, pilots are instructed to maintain that altitude until the runway comes into view. The idea is to get below the cloud cover – but not so far below that the aircraft is endangered. Flight 715’s MDA was 750 feet. Landing gear down and flaps extended, the DC-8 jet dropped to 750 feet. Then it kept dropping. At 300 feet, it crashed into a hill four miles from the airport. The plane broke apart and burst into flames. Incredibly, only 34 of the 79 people aboard perished. The cause of the crash was simple: the pilot descended below his minimum descent altitude without having the runway in sight. Instead of aborting the approach and circling back, the pilot took the plane to a height of a medium-sized Manhattan office building. Investigators also blamed the First Officer for doing nothing to stop this flagrant procedural violation.
And finally… plenty of deadly crashes occur just as planes touch down – typically because they over- or under-shoot the runway. However, a deadly landing accident in 2020 occurred for an especially unusual reason. On May 22, 2020, Pakistani International Airlines Flight 8303 was descending into Karachi from Lahore, carrying 91 passengers and eight crew members. The Airbus A320’s descent was abnormally abrupt, unnerving air traffic controllers as the plane approached the runway. Then “unnerved” turned to “mortified.” Captain Sajjad Gul and First Officer Usman Azam were about to land without landing gear despite the multitude of procedures and warnings designed to prevent exactly that. “It is unbelievable to me that an airline crew on a jet like an Airbus, with all the warning systems, would attempt to land the plane without the gear extended,” said John Cox, an aviation safety consultant. The plane’s two engines grinded along the runway at speeds exceeding 200mph – 40mph faster than an Airbus should land, with or without wheels. Amazingly, the pilots were able to re-ascend away from the airport… but only briefly. The plane lost power (maybe it was that whole engines-grinding-the-pavement-at-high-speeds thing) and crashed into a nearby neighborhood, killing one person on the ground. Only two passengers lived.
Of course, more can go wrong on a flight than just you dying – although that probably should be at the top of the list of things to avoid when traveling by air. But some other strange and bizarre things have also happened in the skies that might make you re-book your next vacation on a train instead. I’ll share some of those incidents when Weird Darkness returns.
STORY: IT HAPPENED MID-FLIGHT=====
Anyone who travels often enough will eventually run into a bad experience while they fly – even if it doesn’t end in your death. Annoying passengers and grumpy employees are two of the usual suspects. Such hassles are as much a part of flying as pat-downs and those preflight safety demonstrations that few passengers pay any mind to. However, as the next few stories will show, putting over 100 people in a confined space for an extended period of time can sometimes lead to some truly strange and awful circumstances. Even as the experience of flying continues to decline, incidents like these stand out from the crowd.
In 2016, a man was taking a flight from Algiers to Paris, and he tried to smoke a cigarette on board. Despite the fact that smoking on planes has been banned for years, he believed that he was above the rules. He was told by employees that smoking was not allowed and was asked to stop. He wasn’t allowed to have alcohol, either. This made him angry. So . . . how did this man express his anger? He unzipped his pants and urinated on a fellow passenger. The victim stood up and punched the man, and they began to fight. Passengers took photos on their phones of the man who started all the trouble being held down by employees. For some reason, the unruly passenger also took his shirt off before letting loose, so to speak. The airplane had to land early in Lyon so that the man could be detained by authorities.
A 20-year-old college student was on a flight from Malaysia in March 2018 when he pulled up his laptop to watch a movie. That’s perfectly normal, except that he was watching porn. Also, he stripped naked. An employee quietly asked him to stop, so he quickly put his clothes back on. It’s possible that this man felt like he could get away with almost anything on this flight because he didn’t exactly get in trouble for the porn. Later, he tried to hug a stewardess and grope her. She pushed him away, and when he was rejected, he began attacking her. The other employees grabbed him and detained him until they landed. He was handed over to police custody.
For years, people have been bringing strange animals on airplanes with a doctor’s note, claiming them to be “emotional support animals.” In many cases, these pet owners have very little regard for fellow passengers, and pigs, ducks, turkeys, and other exotic pets on planes have become an issue. In January 2018, United Airlines finally decided to put their foot down when a performance artist tried to bring a peacock on the flight, claiming that she desperately needed the bird sitting next to her for her emotional well-being. She was denied a seat on the flight and asked to leave. Not even traditional pets are safe to fly without a kennel anymore. In June 2017, a large dog that was brought on a flight as an emotional support animal bit another passenger. Delta Air Lines now requires a 48-hour notice before bringing an animal on board as well as documentation from a licensed medical professional with a true reason for why the animal should be on the flight. The support animal also must be up-to-date with vaccinations and have received training certifications for actual medical issues, like blindness.
In March 2018, employees of United Airlines spotted passengers holding a 10-month-old French bulldog puppy inside a carrying kennel. It’s not against the rules to carry a small dog in a carrier, and nothing has changed about that, even with the new regulations about support animals. However, a United Airlines employee took it upon themselves to insist that they needed to put the kennel in the overhead luggage area so that it was far away from other passengers. When the flight was over, the dog’s owner stood up to take down the carrier, and the dog was dead. She collapsed on the aisle floor, sobbing. United Airlines issued an apology, saying that they never told their employees that pets should be in overhead bins, and they are just as shocked as everyone else. They also said they will make sure it never happens again.
Everybody poops, but as was the case on one British Airways flight in 2015, some stink far more than others. Very early into a seven-hour flight from Heathrow to Dubai, a passenger went number two in the airplane toilets. Before long, the pilot made an announcement, asking for the managing employees to come to the cockpit to talk. After a few minutes of discussion, the pilot made the announcement that the smell of someone’s “liquid fecal excrement” was so pungent that it could already be smelled at the front of the plane because of the recycled air. Considering that they were in the beginning of a seven-hour flight, he felt that for the personal health and safety of the passengers, they needed to turn around and go back to the Heathrow Airport. They’d only been in the air for 30 minutes. Everyone was asked to leave the plane, and the passengers were given free hotel rooms for the night, before boarding a new flight the next day.
Almost everyone who travels often enough has had to endure a crying baby or unruly child on an airplane, but this next story takes the cake. In 2017, a passenger filmed a toddler who was climbing on seats, running up and down the aisles, grabbing at the ceiling air vents, and screaming nonstop for almost all of the eight-hour flight. According to witnesses, who described the child’s screams as “demonic,” the mother quietly asked the boy to be quiet and sit down without being forceful or stern. When the stewardess asked the mother to please control her child, she replied that he had behavioral issues and countered that they should turn the in-flight Wi-Fi on so that he could play games on the iPad to distract him. This incident has sparked a debate over whether families with children should be placed in a separate section of airplanes from other passengers.
When the campy thriller Snakes on a Plane premiered in 2006, Samuel L. Jackson fans loved how funny and over-the-top this idea was, and quotes from the movie are well-known, even to those who never saw it. However, in 2016, that nightmarish scenario became all too real, when passengers on a Mexican flight spotted a green snake dangling from the overhead baggage compartment. One of the passengers pulled out his phone to capture the moment, though when the snake began to drop, he unbuckled his seat belt and got away from it as quickly as he could. Thankfully, everyone kept their distance from the snake, and no one was bitten. The plane had to make an emergency priority landing in Mexico City. The employees tried to investigate how the snake got on the plane in the first place, but it’s still a bit of a mystery.
In March 2018, the cargo on a flight taking off from Yakutsk, Russia, was possibly too heavy for the latch of the plane’s door to handle because it suddenly began flying out onto the runway. But this wasn’t just any cargo. It was gold bars, gems, and precious metal. All together, the items that fell off the plane were valued at $368 million. It all belonged to a Canadian mining company which had paid to transport their goods. An airline employee took a video on his phone, showing an entire runway littered with valuables. Considering that the plane flew a few miles from the airport before landing, it’s possible that some of that money fell onto some random person’s land as they thanked God for their good fortune. Let’s just hope they needed that money more than the mining company did.
On a JetBlue flight from California to Florida, passengers began to smell an “unknown odor” coming from the cockpit. The smell continued to circulate throughout the plane, to the point where people began coughing and choking. It was so bad that they had to make an emergency stop in Oklahoma City, where two passengers and three crew members had to be taken to the hospital. Several more people needed to be given oxygen. The rest of the passengers had to wait to be put on a new flight. The source of the odor could not be immediately determined.
And I’ve saved the most infamous for last – the story most all of you have heard of, but it has to be mentioned. In 2017, United Airlines Flight 3411 needed to make room for four employees who had to make it to Louisville, the plane’s destination. The airline offered reimbursement in the form of vouchers as well as a free hotel room and a seat on a later flight for any who volunteered to get off, but there were no takers. Ultimately, they randomly chose four people to kick off the flight. One of them was Dr. David Dao, a single passenger who was already in his seat. He was told by employees to leave, to make room for someone else. He rightly refused to leave his seat and tried calling United Airlines customer service on the phone. He told them that he could not leave the flight, saying he was a doctor who had to see patients at his clinic the next morning. Ultimately, three Chicago Department of Aviation security officers approached him, physically yanking him out of his seat. During the altercation, Dao’s head was smashed against the armrest. He screamed, and the employees ignored his cries that he was bleeding. Passengers were outraged, pulling out their phones to capture the moment on film. Dao was left with a broken nose, two front teeth knocked out, and a concussion. After the incident, the United Airlines stock price plummeted. Dao sued the airline, and they settled for an undisclosed amount of money.
When Weird Darkness returns… In many cultures there are stories of screaming skulls haunting and terrorizing people. What could this phenomenon be, and are all the incidents related? That’s up next.
STORY: SCREAMING SKULLS=====
For thousands of years across many different cultures across the world people have believed that the head or skull has held the soul. Some tribes would preserve the skulls of their fallen enemies and the Celts would decorate their shrines with skulls. In Britain, we have strange folklore of skulls that scream if taken from the location that they are held. At Wardley Hall in Lancashire the skull of 16th-century Catholic martyr Father Ambrose Barlow is on view at the head of the staircase with the legend that if anybody removes it the skull will emit a blood-curdling scream!
The Screaming Skull of Burton Agnes Hall: According to legend, Burton Agnes Hall in Yorkshire has another screaming skull legend, this one belonging to Anne Griffiths. After being attacked and beaten by robbers, Anne in her dying breaths expressed the wish that her head should be buried in the home that she so much loved. Nevertheless, her family buried her in the village churchyard. After the funeral, terrifying groans and poltergeist activity such as doors slamming and crashes were heard around the house. The dead girl’s body was exhumed and her skull was exhumed and bricked up in a wall off the staircase. Although in recent times the skull has been on display without any side effects.
Screaming Skull of Bettiscombe Manor: Bettiscombe Manor in Dorset probably has the most famous screaming skull legend in Britain. The Bettiscombe Skull story starts in the 18th Century when a member of the Pinney family returned from living in the West Indies and returned with a black slave. Shortly after returning the slave died after making his master swear that he would be buried in his homeland. The Squire broke his promise and the slave was buried in the local churchyard. Similar to that of the Burton Agnes Skull, the skull of the slave began to make agonising screams that so much disturbed passers-by that they asked the Squire to make amens. Since then the skull has remained on show at Bettiscombe Manor. As with many legends, the truth is often very different from the legend. Analysis during the 1960s confirmed that the skull was in fact 2000 years old and was that of a girl. The legend remains intact that if the skull is ever removed from the Manor the person who moves it will die within a year.
Celtic Tradition Of The Death’s Head: The power of the death’s head certainly dates back to pre-history and when our ancestors believed that the skull contained the soul but also the skull is very important in magic. In Papua, widows would impale their dead husband’s skulls on poles to ward away spirits and unwanted attention. In England the trail of the witch Anne Chattox, head of a family of Lancashire Witches was accused of digging up three skulls from a churchyard to use in some ritual or demonic recipe. For this, she was hanged. The Celts often took the heads of enemies killed in battle and kept these both as trophies and as offerings to the gods. The great stone shrine at Roquepertuse had skull-niches in the wall, some filled with representations of heads and others filled with actual skulls. Throughout the years the skull has been seen as a mascot, trophy or charm and this is represented within the screaming skulls legends that still linger on, in England today.
“Are Angels Real?” by Travis Heckel
Hey Darren. I’ve been debating on sending this or not, since it’s not “dark” or “weird”, but deals with angels. I was on the patio the other night listening to an episode of Weird Darkness when my 14 year old daughter came out to ask what I was listening to. It was the episode about The Beast of the Land Between the Lakes since we had just returned home from a Lake in Kentucky and thought it would be a fun listening while sitting outside in the dark. She listened to the story with me and said, “You should send them my angel story.”
While I’ve told several people, friends and family, I never thought about sharing it to a nationwide audience, but after thinking it over, maybe it can give some relief to those that may question their faith or just may be curious about the afterlife.
When our daughter was two, I had to take her to the eye doctor with me to pick up my new contacts. It wasn’t a small office eye doctor, but a large “chain” type eye center. They have a large waiting area with around 7 rows of chairs with about 10 chairs in each load. Since it was just opening, they had it on Disney, so we sat in the front row so I could keep her occupied for a few moments while I finished up some paperwork.
While doing my paperwork, the door opened and in walked two men. I curiously turned to see how was walking in and saw a normal dressed man accompanied by another man that looked disheveled, possibly homeless, but otherwise didn’t pay attention and continued with my paperwork.
Just then, my daughter stood up in the chair and turned around and started staring at the disheveled man. She then bent down and whispered in my ear, “Dad, that man right there is an angel.”. It took me by surprise and I asked her what she said. She repeated, “That man right there is an angel.” So she did say that. It gave me a bit of a chill and I didn’t really want to turn around to stare, although she kept wanting to keep looking at him.
I don’t have a fabulous ending to the story like this angel miraculously cured everyone’s eyesight to 20/20 vision, but I sometimes look back at that moment. While I’m not an overly religious person, i still consider myself a Christian, but at the time, we had yet to take her to church. She obviously knew of a God as we prayed and such before meals, but they say the innocent see things that us sinners look over.
So for those out there that may be questioning their religion or faith, maybe this story will help, that maybe we have a guardian angel out there looking over us.
Thanks for listening (and be sure to stick around for the bloopers at the end)! If you like the show, please share it with someone you know who loves the paranormal or strange stories, true crime, monsters, or unsolved mysteries like you do! You can email me anytime with your questions or comments at email@example.com. WeirdDarkness.com is also where you can find information on any of the sponsors you heard about during the show, find all of my social media, listen to audiobooks I’ve narrated, sign up for the email newsletter, find other podcasts that I host including “Retro Radio: Old Time Radio In The Dark”, “Church of the Undead” and a classic 1950’s sci-fi style podcast called “Auditory Anthology”. Also on the site you can visit the store for Weird Darkness tee-shirts, mugs, and other merchandise… plus, it’s where you can find the Hope in the Darkness page if you or someone you know is struggling with depression or dark thoughts. And if you have a true paranormal or creepy tale to tell, you can click on TELL YOUR STORY. You can find all of that and more at WeirdDarkness.com.
All stories on Weird Darkness are purported to be true unless stated otherwise, and you can find links to the stories or the authors in the show notes.
“What The Heck Is a Snallygaster?” by Kathy Weiser-Alexander for LegendsOfAmerica.com
“Scares in the Skies” by Christopher Dale for ListVerse.com
“It Happened Mid-Flight” by Shannon Quinn for ListVerse.com
“The Screaming Skulls” from MJWayland.com
WeirdDarkness® is a registered trademark. Copyright, Weird Darkness.
Now that we’re coming out of the dark, I’ll leave you with a little light… “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’” – Psalm 91:1-2
And a final thought… “The goal isn’t to get rid of all your negative thoughts, feelings, and life situations. That’s impossible. The goal is to change your response to them. To grow so strong on the inside, that nothing on the outside can affect your well-being without you giving it permission to do so.” – Unknown
I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me in the Weird Darkness.