OF MOON SHOTS AND GHOST ASTRONAUTS
by Loyd Auerbach and Martin Caidin
The late, great, world-famed astronaut Deke Slayton co-authored the book MOON SHOT, adapted as a two-part special for TBS July 11th & 13th, 1994. Slayton, during his life, was a crew member of the 1975 US-USSR Apollo-Soyuz mission, one of the original Mercury Seven astronauts, former test pilot with the USAF, and an avid racing plane pilot. He died at his home in Texas at 3:22 AM., June 13, 1993. With him was his wife Bobbie, and their daughter, Stacey.
But, as shown at the end of the second part of the TBS adaptation (available on home video), that was not the last time Deke Slayton made his mark on this planet. Slayton's final flight took place hours after he died.
Later the same day he died, June 13, 1993 at 7:57 A.M. local time, at John Wayne Airport in Southern California, a Formula One Racing Plane with large FAA-required registration letters and numbers on the fuselage, N21X, took off from the airport and performed various flight maneuvers.
With a high-speed propeller the extremely noisy aircraft was seen and heard by many people, who clearly identified the type of aircraft and wrote down the N21X registration. The Federal Aviation Administration determined that a noise level mandated by law had been exceeded, and issued a letter of citation against the registered owner and pilot.
On July 20, Bobbie Slayton received a letter in the mail dated June 28, 1993, from the FAA to Donald K. Slayton, notifying him that he was being cited for violating FAA regulations. The letter had been sent to a condo at which the Slaytons sometimes stayed, and its delivery was delayed until Mrs. Slayton picked up the mail there.
Upon receipt of the letter, Bobbie Slayton telephoned the FAA and inquired if they had all gone crazy --- pointing out that Deke Slayton had been dead for six hours before the reported incident in Orange County.
She further added that this particular racing plane, N21X, had been in an aircraft museum at Sparks, Nevada (located northeast of San Francisco) since March 1993 --- and that before being placed in the museum, the engine had been removed from the aircraft and was still in the museum, next to the plane!
The plane sighted at the airport had taken off on its own. However, to save weight, the plane Slayton flew has no electrical starter, and the engine can be started only by a person outside the plane, who swings the propeller while the pilot works the controls inside.
So how could the plane have been there....hours after Slayton died, with the plane, minus an engine, in an aircraft museum? And how could it have taken off by itself, with no one outside the plane to start it up for the pilot? If it was Slayton himself, why did it take so long after he died for the plane to be sighted?
Bobbie Slayton remarked that the reason for the delay Deke took before getting into the air in his racing plane was that "he probably took six hours to find Gus" [Grissom, his best friend, who died in the Apollo I fire on Pad 34 at Cape Canaveral] "to prop the plane for him."
So, Deke Slayton's plane was seen hours after he died. He was cited for violating the Orange County Codified Ordinance, Section 2-1-30. The letter from the FAA stated he had sent three noise monitors at the field well above the permitted decibel levels.
Witnesses at the airport who were questioned first by the local authorities, and then by pilots talking to other pilots, and then by still more pilots and investigators sent to Santa Ana for further confirmation, all agreed that the airplane taking off the morning of June 13, 1993, was not only clearly identified as N21X, but that this particular airplane, which had flown for years with this federal registration, was an all-red Formula One racing aircraft, that it departed from the airport in Orange County, flew through various maneuvers in the area, and then flew off in a steady gradual climb on a westerly heading --- and was never seen again.
TBS, in featuring the story in their MOON SHOT mini-series, acknowledged that the spirit of the space program, embodied in Deke Slayton, can truly survive even the most impossible of situations, even death.
As the late Martin Caidin, world famous author and expert on aviation and manned and unmanned space shots, author of MAROONED (credited by the Soviets as being the stimulus for the Apollo-Soyuz mission), and creator of THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN, has quoted Slayton as saying "No matter what happens, no matter how rough it gets, no matter how impossible it becomes --- always keep the dream alive." Caidin, the Series Advisor for MOON SHOT, died on March 25th, 1997. Caidin, in addition to everything else he did, also investigated paranormal phenomena and authored the books GHOSTS OF THE AIR and NATURAL OR SUPERNATURAL?
Paranormal investigator Loyd Auerbach, along with Martin Caidin, who were featured in a pilot for a proposed TV series entitled HAUNTED AMERICA, believes "ghost stories" like this one truly illustrate the wonderment that has interested them, and others, in events labeled as "paranormal." That TBS has included such a story in a mini-series about the Apollo program may be a signal that perhaps such experiences are more "normal" than most would first guess.
For further comments/interviews on the Deke Slayton story, or about the paranormal in general CONTACT:
LOYD AUERBACH, Director, Office of Paranormal Investigations, at (415) 249-9275 or email him at email@example.com
For further information on HAUNTED AMERICA, contact: JUDE GERARD PREST, Abbitt-Prest Productions through OPI or via his email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone numbers for callback may be left at his pager number, (818) 529-2426.