Saturday 18 August 2007

Make your own Ghost Cosmonaut

As an addendum to the previous post, I've always wanted to create my own ghost. One idea I had was to buy a Russian Cosmonaut suit and set up some fake debris in a field, late at night. Then from the early morning, donning my outfit I would wander around the field near my crash landed module, looking terribly dazed.
Indeed Cosmonaut Anatoliy Levchenko's `Sokol` suit would seem to have the right degree of poetic resonance about it. This can be bought from the USSR-Russian Aviation & Space Collectables web site...
As the catalogue states:
"Sokol space suit worn by research cosmonaut Anatoliy Levchenko during his flight aboard Soyuz TM-4, Soyuz TM-3 ships and space station MIR during the period 12.21.1987-12.29.1987. Buran test pilot and MIR cosmonaut A.Levchenko died of a brain tumor only few months after his return from MIR....."

Britain At Occult War: Folk Songs of the Near Future

Found this strange database of aviation ghosts which reads like a rather Ballardian catalogue of dead airmen. I am always struck by the fact the JG Ballard refutes the significance of the paranormal while his stories are replete with the spectral presence of dead airmen and military personnel (most explicitly perhaps in a piece like "One Afternoon at Utah Beach").

Reading this database I can't help but be impressed by the poetry of these hauntings and indeed they made an odd juxtaposition with the songs of Shirley Collins which I was listening to, as I browsed the database. Here are some of my favourites, like snatched vignettes - verses from a folk song of the near future, inhabited by pipe smoking scarf wearing RAF ghosts, the drones of phantom fighters, trenchcoated revenants and the lost widows of forgotten WWII runways.

Some favourites of mine from the database:

Pipe Smoking Man
Location: Burscough - Burscough airfieldType: Haunting ManifestationDate / Time: Circa 1950s / 1960s?Further Comments: When farmers worked the land where a WW2 airfield once stood, it was reported that they would occasionally be approached by a young man smoking a pipe. This figure would wish them a good evening before vanishing. It was said that this ghost was once a pilot who worked here, though no one can be quite sure of his true past.

Officer on Bike
Location: Digby - RAF DigbyType: Haunting ManifestationDate / Time: Post World War Two Further Comments: Cycling along on an old bike, this phantom RAF officer once stopped and asked two guards for the control tower to be opened for him. When they agreed, the officer vanished. On other occasions, lights were reported moving around the control tower, though it would be locked and empty.

Airman with Hand Grenade
Location: Grimsby - Former RAF WalthamType: Haunting ManifestationDate / Time: 1982
Further Comments: Several former pilots walk this old RAF base, both along the aging airstrips and the perimeter road. One of the ghosts that has chosen the perimeter to haunt is said to have blown himself up with a grenade after being declared unfit to fly. Another spirit has appeared by the memorial laid for the Number 100 squadron.

Headless Airman wanting Lift
Location: Hadstock - The B1052 leading into HadstockType: Haunting ManifestationDate / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: After losing his head in a flying accident, the apparition of an American pilot has been seen thumbing a lift on the roadside.

Capt. Scholz
Location: Little Walden - Little Walden Airfield, near Saffron WaldenType: Post-Mortem Manifestation Date / Time: November 1993
Further Comments: Fifty years after dying when his Mustang crash landed, Captain Scholz dressed in his flying suit appeared in the back seat of a car as it drove past the airfield, disappearing after a few seconds.

Crashing Planes & WWII pilots
Location: Ridgewell - Ridgewell World War Two AirfieldType: Haunting ManifestationDate / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: Now little more than a collection of old huts, the area is haunted by the sounds of crashing WWII aeroplanes, shouting airmen, and other noises.

Faceless Motorcyclist
Location: Waddon - Roundshaw Housing EstateType: Haunting ManifestationDate / Time: 1971
Further Comments: The motorcyclist was seen early in the morning, dressed in old clothing. It is thought he was stationed on this site during World War 2, which was a RAF base. Other airfield ghosts reported around the area include a Dutch pilot killed when his airplane crashed in fog in the 1930s and three nuns who died when their plane crashed in 1947. Phantom singing has also been reported on the estate.

White Haired Woman Standing in the Corner
Location: Woodbridge - RAF Woodbridge, Bar and ClubType: Haunting ManifestationDate / Time: Late twentieth century
Further Comments: The club has a reputation for being haunted by ex-service personnel, but an old woman dressed in a night-shirt has also been seen here, standing in the corner of the bar.

Location: Felixstowe - Crossroads controlled by lightsType: Haunting ManifestationDate / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: For several days, a car driver found himself giving a lift to a World War 2 pilot, who would suddenly appear in the back seat of his car when he reached a certain point of his journey. This stopped once the driver started taking a different route.
Now compare these with this condensed chapter in "You and me and the continuum", by JGB.
"Lieutenant 70. An isolated incident at the Strategic Air command, Nabraska, December 25th, 197-, when a landing H-bomber was found to have an extra pilot on board. The subject carried no identification tags and apparently suffering from severe retrograde amnesia. He subsequently disappeared while being X-rayed at the base hospital for any bio-implants and transmitters, leaving behind a set of plates of a human fetus evidently taken some thirty years previously. It was assumed that this in the nature of a hoax and that the subject was a junior officer who had become fatigurd while playing Santa Claus on an inter-base visiting party."
My feeling is that this excerpt would fit seemlessly into the aviation ghosts database...