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  • The year is 1955, and you're at the airport in New York, getting ready for a flight on

  • the most luxurious airline in the skies - Pan Am.

  • Your name gets called, you show your ticket to the airline clerk, and you settle into

  • your seat for a nice relaxing eight-hour flight.

  • After a lovely in-flight meal, you fall asleep - and wake up to the sound of shouting.

  • The situation on the ground isn't what it was supposed to look like.

  • All the buildings look different, shiny - almost like you were in the future.

  • You hear shouting from the cockpit.

  • This is Pan Am Flight 914, scheduled to land in Caracas.”

  • That's impossible.

  • Pan Am Flight 914 was lost over Caracas in 1955.”

  • Wait, what year is it?”

  • It's 1982.

  • This flight has been missing for thirty-seven years.”

  • What?

  • How is this possible?

  • Did your flight travel in time to the future?

  • Have you really been gone for thirty-seven years?

  • How does this make any sense that a plane could spontaneously go missing for thirty-seven

  • years and reappear with no time having passed for anyone on board?

  • No plane has ever traveled in time - well, at least not for thirty-seven years.

  • The closest anyone ever came to traveling in time on an airplane was at the end of 2017,

  • when Hawaiian Airlines Flight HA446 left Auckland, New Zealand shortly after midnight, crossed

  • the international dateline, and made it to Honolulu, Hawaii before it hit midnight there.

  • Those lucky passengers had the surreal experience of taking off in 2018 and landing in 2017,

  • and got to celebrate the new year twice, but that's the closest anyone's come to time

  • traveling on an airplane.

  • But that hasn't stopped the story of Pan Am Flight 914 from captivating the internet's

  • attention.

  • The original article telling the terrifying tale of the passengers has been circulating

  • since the early days of the internet, and is full of details that stick with you.

  • The article tells the story of confused passengers staring out the window in horror, as the air

  • traffic controller and pilot try to make sense of the bizarre thirty-seven year gap in time.

  • Unable to process the bizarre events and clearly going mad, the airline pilot takes off into

  • the air again with everyone still on board, and the flight once again vanishes into thin

  • air - never to be seen again.

  • Conspiracy videos and articles litter the internet trying to make sense of this bizarre

  • story.

  • Many people argue that the plane went through a wormhole that broke the laws of time and

  • space.

  • Others believe the plane was kidnapped by aliens, and UFO fans try to find reports of

  • UFO sightings near the time the plane supposedly disappeared and when it reappeared.

  • Others believe it's some sort of government conspiracy that took the plane and is lying

  • to everyone about what happened.

  • Could the answer be in the notorious Area 51?

  • No wonder everyone wanted to raid it!

  • Scientists who are open to these theories have tried to prove or disprove the events.

  • There is no hard evidence to prove the existence of alien abductions or men in black, so investigations

  • have focused on the time travel theory.

  • Could an airplane theoretically travel in time?

  • Actually, every airplane flight does!

  • This is called time dilation, a theory predicted by Albert Einstein's theory of relativity.

  • Because airplanes travel so much faster than people on the ground and because you're

  • so high above from Earth's mass, you're less bound by gravity and time moves a little

  • bit faster.

  • But the time difference is tiny - for an average flight, your watch will run about fifty nanoseconds

  • or zero point zero zero zero zero zero zero zero five seconds slower than the watch of

  • a person on the ground.

  • How fast would you have to go to lose thirty-five years of time on the ground?

  • No one knows, but it would be well faster than the speed of light.

  • So what's the answer?

  • How did Pan Am Flight 914 travel in time?

  • After all, if people are talking about something on the internet, it's got to be true, right?

  • In truth, the story of the time-traveling flight from 1955 is a complete work of fiction,

  • with no basis in reality.

  • The most fascinating thing about the story is that it's an illustration of how a story

  • doesn't need any basis in fact to capture the attention of the internet.

  • And it all comes back to one of the most notorious tabloids in journalism history - the Weekly

  • World News.

  • Do you remember shopping in the supermarket any time from the 1980s to the early 2000s?

  • The odds are, as you checked out, you remember seeing an odd tabloid with the most ridiculous

  • headlines imaginable.

  • Alien endorses Bill Clinton for President!”

  • Volcano exposes the gate to hell!”

  • Garden of Eden found!”.

  • Every week, the Weekly World News would share terrifying, bizarre, and seemingly impossible

  • news.

  • And almost every single article in the magazine was complete nonsense, created by the outlandish

  • fiction writers behind the tabloid.

  • In 1979, the magazine publisher Generoso Pope, Jr. was looking for another tabloid to supplement

  • the success of his iconic magazine National Enquirer.

  • While the Enquirer was known for its focus on celebrity culture and its questionable

  • grasp of the facts, the Weekly World News would know exactly where it stood on the question

  • of facts - it had no use for them.

  • Based in Florida and printed entirely in black and white, it hired Eddie Clontz, a high-school

  • dropout and former low-level copy editor as its lead editor.

  • And while its bizarre articles may have annoyed serious journalists, the low-cost magazine

  • certainly found its audience - in the 1980s, its circulation was over one million copies

  • an issue!

  • The Weekly World News occasionally published wacky real-world stories, like the tale of

  • Hogzilla - the 800-pound wild pig that was shot and killed by a Georgia farmer - or graphic

  • details of the autopsy of Ted Bundy.

  • That last one actually got someone arrested, when the employee of the Florida Medical Examiner's

  • office who leaked the photo was charged with stealing classified information and selling

  • it to the tabloid.

  • But the paper was best known for its tales of the surreal and supernatural.

  • They had occasional articles by notorious students of the supernatural, like exorcism

  • expert Father Gabriel Morath.

  • Maybe the paper's most popular regular feature was the opinion columns of Ed Anger.

  • A curmudgeonly character known for his extreme opinions, his signature line wasLet's

  • pave the stupid rainforests and give school teachers stun guns”.

  • Every issue would feature an article by Anger yelling about the subject of the week, but

  • much like everything else about the News, Anger was fake.

  • His columns were written by Eddie Clontz until Clonts left the paper in 2001 and other writers

  • took over.

  • But Ed Anger was so popular that his columns were collected in several books which outlived

  • the paper.

  • The Weekly World News' biggest lasting legacy, though, is the character that made them famous

  • - Bat Boy.

  • Not related to that guy in Gotham City, Bat Boy is a tiny monster that appears to be half-bat,

  • half baby.

  • The bald critter first appeared on the cover of the June 23, 1992 issue, baring his fangs

  • to the reader.

  • It went on to become one of the best selling issues in the magazine's history.

  • Described as a juvenile delinquent, he was supposed to be one of a group of strange Bat-monsters

  • living in the Ozark mountains, and repeatedly appeared in the magazine endorsing politicians,

  • protesting laws, and even running for California governor.

  • Bat Boy may have been another of the Weekly World News' wacky creations, but he crossed

  • over into the real world when his story was made into an off-Broadway musical featuring

  • such tunes asHold Me, Bat Boy”.

  • So what was the downfall of the Weekly World News?

  • After the departure of Eddie Clontz, the paper started getting a little predictable.

  • Stories fell back on old favorite characters rather than trying to shock the people into

  • buying a copy out of curiosity.

  • How many times can you see Bat Boy doing something wacky before you figure, eh, I'll buy a

  • candy bar instead?

  • The editors even started reprinting some of their most popular stories with minor changes.

  • The spooky tale of Pan Am Flight 914's mysterious flight into the future first appeared in 1985,

  • but it was reprinted again in 1993 and 1999.

  • The only difference in the articles was the date - and somehow, the appearance of the

  • Air Traffic Controller involved changed completely between articles.

  • As conspiracy buffs continued to circulate rumors about the mystery plane, including

  • a seven-minute 2019 video that barely acknowledges the possibility of the story being a hoax

  • near the end, the internet investigators at Snopes went to work.

  • The rumor-debunking site was able to find evidence that the photo of the supposed landing

  • was a stock photograph of a plane from 1935, not a Pan Am flight at all.

  • The story was clearly a fake, but the inspiration may have come from a 1961 episode of The Twilight

  • Zone.

  • In that episode, a freak breaking of the time barrier sends a commercial airline hurtling

  • back in time - first to the prehistoric age where they encounter dinosaurs, then to the

  • 1939 World's Fair.

  • Did that episode of one of TV's most acclaimed sci-fi series inspire the article that inspired

  • countless conspiracy buffs?

  • The legend of Pan Am Flight 914 continues to fascinate conspiracy buffs, even if it's

  • a fake cobbled together from a variety of sources.

  • But in a final bit of irony, the Weekly World News' fake story may have created a homage

  • of its own.

  • The TV series Manifest, about an airplane that takes off from Jamaica and lands in the

  • United States five years later with the people on board not having aged a day, is currently

  • going strong on NBC with a complex plot that involves psychic powers and government conspiracies.

  • The Weekly World News may have ceased publishing in 2002, but it's bizarre legacy of conspiracy-driven

  • stories lives on.

  • For another strange tale of disappearing airlines, check outWhat Happened to Malaysian Airlines

  • Flight 370?”, or check out this video instead.

  • Thanks for watching, and see you next time!

The year is 1955, and you're at the airport in New York, getting ready for a flight on

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Did Pan Am Flight 914 Really Land 37 Years Later

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    Summer posted on 2020/07/30
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