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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Is Fresno's Chandler Airport haunted?

A few weeks ago I received an e-mail from a person who has an office at Fresno's Chandler Airport and is researching the history of the place. In the e-mail I was told the place had several ghosts in it and was asked if I would like to meet and investigate. I had heard stories for years that Chandler was haunted, but was never given any details so I jumped at the chance to visit.

A brief history on the airport before I delve into the paranormal part of it. Chandler Airfield started unofficially after World War I when pilots would land on an empty field owned by then State Senator Wilbur Chandler and his wife Edna. For several years the Fresno Chamber of Commerce tried to pass bond measures that would allow them to purchase land for use as an airport but with no luck. In 1929 the Chandlers gave 100 acres of their farm to the city to be used as an airport and in November of that year the airport was officially dedicated and soon after several buildings were erected to service the airport. In March of 1930 the airport received a famous visitor when Charles Lindberg and his wife landed at the airport and were greeted by a crowd of over 20,000.

In 1936 construction began on a terminal building and was designed in what was called Streamline Moderne (an architecture style popular in the 1930's). Planes flew in and out of Chandler daily (except during World War II when it was used as a military base) up to 1947. At that time airlines refused to land at Chandler anymore saying that the runway was too small and the amenities of the airport couldn't service the new type of aircraft coming out. For the most part flights ceased to occur at Chandler and most traffic was diverted to the newly built Fresno Air Terminal.

Though Chandler isn't as busy as it used to be, it still does see some traffic. The old terminal building now is the administration building for the airport. Of all the buildings there, this is the one that received the most foot traffic over the years as it would be the place passengers would enter to board their flights or the first thing one would enter after exiting a plane upon landing.

And it seems some of those that passed through its doors have never truly left.

The staff that works there have seen a variety of phenomena, but it seems the main terminal area is where most of the activity takes place. One of the workers has seen several figures emerge from a wall near where you would buy tickets, only or them to walk across the room and then vanish oblivious to the fact that he was observing them. Others have seen a figure of an older man in the old control tower (which is on the second floor of the administration building) staring out onto the field as if he's watching invisible planes taking off and landing. And still others have reported while they were outside of the building, seeing figures moving inside and upon entering the building finding it to be completely empty.

The main terminal isn't the only area that has activity. There is a restaurant that is adjacent to the terminal area (same building) and from what the staff told me it is active in its own right. They have heard voices late at night while they were closing, yet there was no one else there. Even more interesting is that several of the kitchen staff were cleaning up one night when they heard a rattling noise. They looked to the direction to where the noise was coming from and saw a plate wobbling across a counter top until it fell over the edge and onto the floor. This was late at night and there was no aircraft or any other vehicles in the vicinity that could have caused this. And interestingly enough the plate didn't break when it hit the floor.

It's hard to say what could be causing all the activity here. Given the age of the place and the countless number of people who passed through its doors it's possible that some have decided to stay here even after death for whatever reason. This is a place I definitely need to visit again. Not just to investigate, as this does need to be done, but to interview all the witnesses as well. The stories I heard briefly were interesting and definitely need to be documented. From there the history of the location needs to be researched more. Not just from a paranormal point of view, but a historical one. I didn't even know Lindberg had landed there until I was told. It makes me wonder what other secrets the airport is hiding just waiting to be uncovered.