Call it supernatural or great marketing. Either way, Mid-America Air Museum is getting attention.
By ROBERT PIERCE
• Daily Leader
In 2006, two investigators from a Topeka-based group spent the night in Liberal’s air museum after being invited by museum staff after several visitors reported seeing a ghost.
In a report, the members of the Paranormal Investigators of America wrote of seeing the ghost as well, which appeared to be Col. Tom Thomas, an avid aircraft collector who donated more than 50 airplanes to the museum and who died in 1998.
Saturday, PIA founder Dustyn McCormick and others came to Liberal to host guided tours through the museum and to report on any recent findings.
He said the group has been coming to the air museum for roughly four years, making its first visit to MAAM in 2004.
“There was an article on the air museum in the Guymon, Okla., newspaper,” he said. “Somebody e-mailed it to us, and that’s how we started coming out here. The air museum has always been great to us, and it’s always a blast coming out here. We started helping out with the Haunted Hangar last year. It was our first time doing the guided tours.”
McCormick said those who take tours are allowed to be investigators and do work similar to what PIA does during an investigation.
He said from the information PIA was given about Thomas, they learned his favorite plane was the museum’s Avenger exhibit.
“That’s usually where we camp out at when we come here,” he said.
PIA first came to Liberal for Thomas, but McCormick said the group soon learned there were other spirits in the museum.
“Every time we come here, we find more and more,” he said. “A lot of people want to say, ‘Why?’ For most of them, we can tell them it’s for the exact same reason Col. Tom was here. They’ve grown very, very attached to the planes that occupy this building. Some of them are attached to the building. Some of them are attached to the land around here.”
McCormick said the majority of the time, the spirits are not malicious.
“We have run into one or two angry ones, but for the most part, they’re very pleasant to be around,” he said.
During their visits, PIA members take many pictures, and McCormick said many of those photos show nothing in the way of spirits.
“We’re going to have pictures that are just pictures,” he said. “Now, we try to take pictures in cycles. We’ll take a series of pictures.”
McCormick said many pictures contained orbs, which he said come from sources such as dust or moisture in the air or even bugs.
“There’s all sorts of different causes,” he said.
Lead sensitive Kim Zerbe said many of the spirits are ones that have had a hard time crossing over to the afterlife.
“Whatever life they lived when they were alive, they miss it that much, and they will try to find someone who’s lived that same sort of lifestyle, experiences the same emotional highs and lows, the same euphoria, whatever they’re doing that closely matches their life,”
she said. “They will attach themselves and live vicariously through that person.”
Before Saturday’s tours, Zerbe said she had already had some experiences with spirits at MAAM, as did some of the other visitors.
She said spirits will find many sources of energy in order to make their presence known. “If they want to chat, if they’re curious, they’ll take whatever energy they can take to make it happen,” she said.
McCormick said in some cases, spirits are hanging around because they want to deliver a message, there’s something they need or they have some type of unfinished business.
He said there is a common perception that once a person has died, there is no coming back. “That’s kind of wrong,” he said. “They can move back and forth. They can come visit.”
McCormick said the members of PIA do what they do mostly for educational purposes.
“It’s mostly so people can understand or even accept that there is kind of another world that surrounds us,” he said. “These beings do interact with us. They are around us. Some people accept the confirmation. Some people fight it. Some people are comforted by that knowledge. Some people are scared of it. They don’t want to know.
They want nothing to do with it.”
McCormick said most of the time, spirits will do no harm.
“Every now and then, they will,” he said.