An interview with commercial pilot Dan Haggerty.
Dan Haggerty lives in Florida Keys in the United States. He’s been flying planes since he was 27. He spent eight years in the US Navy. He now takes people on joy rides and sometimes in the process becomes involved in search & rescue, which is rescuing a live person, or search and recovery, which is searching for someone who hasn’t been fortunate enough to make it. Loved ones like to know what has happened to their departed family members and friends and sometimes it’s important to put an extra effort into the recovery business to try to complete the job.
Dan says he once heard of a crashed airplane that had been missing for over a week in a place near where he lived. 'I heard on the radio that they hadn’t found the wreckage or the people and it was a bit of a surprise to me that that had occurred. The crash happened in a 15 mile stretch of islands. It was a quiet day and I stood in the middle of the ramp area where we tie down the airplanes and I got very quiet and listened. Then I said 'Do you want me to find you?'
"You can call it a voice in your head or a voice beside you but I got a YES straight away. So I prepared the airplane for the flight. I had to fuel the airplane but the fuel truck wouldn’t start. It took an hour to charge the battery. Finally we got the airplane fuelled. The wind was blowing at 25mph, stirring up the water and making if difficult to find anything. When I took off I was going to make an effort to turn the airplane but I had this feeling: 'No, I don’t need to turn the airplane. Just fly in a westerly heading towards the Bay Islands'. I wasn’t trying to turn the airplane except for a little bit of rudder movement, making an unconscious direction change out to an area where fishermen were pulling in their lobster traps.
"Right away I picked up on an oil slick which I thought might have been from someone bumping the bilge on their boat. But when I got there it wasn’t that type of an oil slick. So I circled the spot and had the Lo-ran lock onto the spot so I could find it again. (Lo-ran is a long distance radio navigation system by which a ship or aircraft determines its position using radio signals sent out by three ground stations, unlike GPS which is global positioning via satellite.)
"Later on that afternoon two young gentlemen booked me for an airplane ride so I told them I wanted to look for something in the Gulf of Mexico but I didn’t tell them what it was. When I reached the position I saw two oil slicks and there was a body floating in the middle of the second one. I told my passengers that I’d found what I had been looking for and would they mind me circling until the power boats get out there.
"The wind was starting to pick up and I was concerned we would lose sight of the area. They said no problem, So I circled for an hour in a tight circle with nothing to look at and focus except for this body floating in the water. I thought my passengers would almost certainly get airsick but they didn’t.
"By the time the Marine Patrol officer got on site the wind had really picked up and it was very rough. I broke off my circling and headed back to the airport. There were two oil slicks by this time – the one where the body was and the original one. I called the Marine Patrol’s main office on the landline telephone and told them to tell the officer recovering the body to go a certain heading and a certain distance and mark the other spot – he had a GPS system on his boat, so he proceeded there and marked it.
"It was another week before the weather calmed down and they were able to go there with divers and locate the wreckage of the airplane. If you look at co-incidences that aren’t co-incidences, like me listening to the radio at a certain time on the one day when they hadn’t found the airplane. Messages come to people through all types of media or non-media. It’s important just to be quiet, listen, and tune in to your own feelings. You will be notified when you’re needed if you concentrate.
"Another friend of mine crashed in a seaplane while leaving Key West to fly 60 miles west to the Dry Tortuga to pick up passengers who were bird watchers. He disappeared. Everybody gathered at the airport to go out on the search mission. I asked if we could have some information as to where to start as it would be a big waste of fuel. We were given the search area and we went out but no-one found anything. We knew the general area where the radar had lost sight of this airplane. I got in touch with the other pilots and we decided to wait until the water cleared up so we could see something. Eventually you could see the bottom so I went out and we started the search pattern over again. I’d only done one leg and I spotted something on the bottom in 40 feet of water. There were divers nearby and they went down and found the wreckage, one of my friend’s tennis shoes, and his wallet. Whether it was luck or skill I don’t know, but finding the wreckage in 40 feet of water was pretty good."
"But in that case you didn’t get any messages?"
"No. You can say it’s luck when you find something like that. Everybody uses the word luck a lot. But is it luck or are you being guided? It’s hard to say. You’re so relaxed in what you’re doing…you’re listening and you have a feeling, You are sort of guided. In the case of the airplane near my airport where the body floated up, that was definitely a case of being notified about where I was needed to go and to have a conclusion to that situation that day.
"There’s no doubt in my mind…I had asked: 'Do you want me to find you?' and the answer came to me: 'YES!' And that’s what motivated me to continue looking because no-one else had looked and I went right to where the airplane was within this 15 mile line of islands. Not a coincidence!"
Dan said that sometimes he realises that a friend hasn't called him in a while and within five minutes the friend will call him. "Just thinking it. But that's mental telepathy between living people. Dealing with people who have passed on...they're there, all around us, everywhere in the universe, and if they need to communicate they do. Sometimes they don't."
But in all his experiences of doing this, Dan said, he'd found that being paid to go out and look for someone seems not to work. "It throws a bit of a jinx on it." He said an example of that was a case where a man from Germany fell off the back of a fishing boat and the family was very upset that they couldn't find him. "His buddies came to me and hired me to fly for two or three days to search. But it just wasn't happening."
Then one evening Dan was standing on beach down in Key West looking out at the ocean.
"And I just said: You're near aren't you?" And the next morning fishermen found the body only 100 yards off the beach from where Dan had been standing.
Dan continued: "Maybe more occasions will come up to do this. Maybe they won't, but I always try to be in tune ready for it, and if the spiritual world calls upon me my line's open."
My husband Andrew, who began this blog in October 2007, died peacefully on September 3rd 2012, at the age of 83, after long and well-controlled illness culminating in a sudden, brief decline. I'll be posting pieces of his life writing and autobiographical reminiscences to his other blog, The Game of Life. This blog will be used for other material relevant to Andrew, beginning with the wonderful tributes to him which poured in after his death, both by email and on facebook. At some point this blog will become an archive, without further additions.— Rosemary Nissen-Wade