Sterling Airlines was founded in 1962, offering charter flights from Scandinavia to the Mediterranean. But by the late 90’s the carrier was struggling financially due to fierce competition from the new ‘no-frills’ airlines and so Sterling too decided to change its business model and become a fully fledged low-cost carrier.
In March 1999 the airline took delivery of a brand new Boeing 737-800 OY-SEC. The factory fresh jet had an incredibly eye catching bright yellow livery and soon became affectionately known as ‘The Yellow One’.
In 2002 the aircraft was operating a flight to one of Sterlings many sun destinations. With a plane load of excited holidaymakers the journey had been uneventful, until a female passenger suddenly became ill and collapsed.
The cabin crew did everything they could and luckily there were paramedics travelling on the same flight who stepped in to assist. The aircraft was quickly diverted while the passenger was tended to and as soon as they were on the ground the plane was met by the emergency services.
Sadly, despite everyone’s best efforts the lady was pronounced dead onboard and the flight was grounded. Crew and passengers were then put up for the evening before continuing their journey on a different plane the following day.
The ‘Yellow One’ too was back in the air the next morning with a plane load of fresh passengers, unaware of what had happened just a few hours before.
But it wasn’t long before some rather weird things started to happen. Mysterious shadows being cast, the feeling that you were being watched, sudden drops in temperature, galley latches unsecured randomly and cupboards opening on their own.
At first this was put down to some over imaginative crew and galley FM gossip. But as time wore on these strange happenings became more frequent and more intense and soon even passengers began to notice that something wasn’t quite right on this particular aircraft.
Reports that hand baggage would mysteriously move from one locker to another without anyone seeing it happen began to be reported. Now we all know that passengers leave their brains at home, but when it was happening every day it began to freak out even the most sceptical of trolley dollies.
During the inflight service glasses and food would be randomly knocked off the trolley when crews backs were turned, with passengers even reporting they had seen these inanimate objects move on their own. Items would go missing from the cockpit or galleys, only to be found in the most random of places, like in the lavatory at the back of the plane.
One very weird event happened when a captains flight bag mysteriously disappeared from the cockpit halfway through a flight from Copenhagen to Malaga. The crew searched high and low but to no avail. When the plane landed in Malaga the captain was horrified when the ground staff brought his bag up from the forward luggage hold. They told the bewildered pilot they had found it tucked away beneath a pile of passengers luggage.
‘Yea, but surely someone was just playing a trick on the unsuspecting pilot and smuggled his bag out of the cockpit before take off in Copenhagen?’ I hear you cry. Well that’s what the other crew members initially thought, until the captain informed them that he had been in and out of his bag a number of times after take-off so it was definitely behind the locked flight deck door when the plane took to the skies.
Haunted Ground Handlers
But these spooky occurrences didn’t just happen in the air. Soon, even the ground crew at Copenhagen Airport became terrified by ‘The Yellow One’.
Reports started coming in of strange laughter and footsteps running through the aircraft at night when the plane was empty, haunting screams and glimpses of ghostly figures sat in empty seats or stood in the galleys.
One lady, part of the airports cleaning staff, stated that she didn’t have a problem with ‘The Yellow One’ until one night she was onboard alone and clearly heard her name being called. She stated in her report that it was difficult to discern whether the voice was male or female but it was evident that whoever it was knew her name. After calling out to see if anyone else was onboard with her, she felt a sudden blast of air as something rushed past her.
A second after this happened, the door to the lavatory at the back of the plane slammed shut, rattling the entire cabin. Terrified, the cleaner dashed off the plane and asked if anyone outside had heard anything. But no one else heard a thing and the woman refused to ever set foot on the plane again.
Other people have reported similar experiences – some stating they’ve heard someone calling their name, others saying they thought they felt something brush past them when they were alone.
Needless to say, it wasn’t long before more reports swept through the airport, some being major encounters, while others said that things were merely moved from one area to the next. Even the passengers heard reports of these incidents and some reportedly even changed their minds about flying on that plane because of it.
Though there were never reports of seeing any actual apparitions, ‘The Yellow One’ gained the reputation of being one of the most haunted planes in the world. It remains unclear if the entity that possessed the plane is the spirit of the woman who died or if it is some sort of otherworldly being that chose to reside within the walls of that aircraft.
One Final Fright
And one final terrifying story happened while the 737 was cruising at 38,000 feet somewhere over France. The flight was full and the cabin crew were in the galley putting away the bar carts after just finishing the inflight service. Suddenly a loud thud was heard on the roof of the aircraft towards the rear and the cabin fell bitterly cold. Startled by the noise, the crew and the last few rows of passengers stopped what they were doing and for a few minutes an eerie silence fell over the jet.
Suddenly the clear sound of footsteps could be heard seemingly walking along the roof of the plane. As the footsteps moved towards the front the whole cabin fell silent and people stared in bewilderment at the ceiling. Terrified the crew at the rear called the two crew at the front who had also heard the strange noise and they called the flight deck.
The pilots told the crew that they too had heard the noise and their instruments were behaving oddly. After a few seconds the noise stopped, the footsteps disappeared, the temperature in the cabin returned to normal and the flight decks instruments also began to work.
The sound of footsteps on the roof inflight was reported numerous times while the aircraft remained with Sterling Airlines. But in October 2008 the airline declared itself bankrupt and its fleet of planes were grounded with immediate effect.
On June 17, 2009 ‘The Yellow One’ was leased to new Russian carrier Nordstar, re-registered as VQ-BDP and the garish yellow livery was stripped back to a smart blue and white colour scheme.
Following the change in ownership, whatever had been haunting the jet during its life at Sterling also disappeared. No more reports of ghostly footsteps, stomach curdling screams, or strange goings-on were ever made and the aircraft was scrapped in November 2019.
Perhaps the ghost just didn’t want to fly with any other airline.
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