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6 urban legends about Wright-Patterson Air Force Base

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base — affectionately called "Wright-Patt" for short — is located just outside of Dayton, Ohio. If you ask the locals or the airmen stationed there, they will tell you about the Air Force Museum, the Oregon District, and maybe even the Dayton Dragons baseball team.


You also might have heard unconfirmed reports of chili on spaghetti.

But if you get a couple of beers in them or earn their trust by shouting "O-H," the locals may even tell you about all the alien bodies, ghosts, and secret tunnels the Air Force hides there.

1. The Roswell Aliens (and their ship) are there.

Many Americans believe a UFO – and its extraterrestrial crew – crash-landed in the New Mexico desert near Roswell on July 2, 1947. They also believe the site was cleaned up by the Air Force from nearby Roswell Army Air Force Base.

Eyewitnesses reported that 3-foot tall, grey-skinned aliens died in the crash. According to Loren Coleman, the co-author of "Weird Ohio," they and their space vessel were shipped off to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base's notorious "Hangar 18."

Everyone else has been trying to get in there ever since.

Wright-Patt's Hangar 18, circa 1947.

Senator Barry Goldwater supposedly asked USAF Gen. Curtis LeMay if he could see what was inside. LeMay told the Senator that not only could he not get in, but he should never ask again.

2. The tunnels under a Wright State University were originally meant for the Air Force.

Just down the street from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is Wright State University. The school has a convenient system of underground tunnels that allow students and faculty to make their way to class despite the sometimes chilly weather outside.  There are almost two miles of tunnels.

They only lead to a liberal arts degree.

Some locals believe that during the Cold War the base was a prime target for Soviet ICBMs. So naturally they assumed the tunnels were part of the base's plan to escape nuclear blasts and radioactive fallout. Others think the tunnels are part of an abandoned, separate military facility.

The truth, as usual, is far less interesting. According to Wright State's newsroom, the first building on campus was basically "off the grid."

Or off the everything, for that matter.

When the next building went up two years later, the electrical systems of the two needed to be merged, so they built a simple tunnel between the two buildings. Eventually, they started allowing everyone to use the maintenance tunnels to move between buildings.

3. Hap Arnold's house is haunted...

Henry H. "Hap" Arnold was the only person ever to be dubbed "General of the Air Force." As a major, he once lived on a house near Huffman Prairie, where the Wright Brothers worked on their planes – now on Wright-Patt Air Force Base.

A runner with the Air Force Marathon runs past the Arnold House in 2009. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Many commanders lived in the house, but the Arnold House (as it's called today) is named for its most famous resident. For years, visitors reported strange noises, objects moving on their own, odd shadows, and other phenomena.

The SyFy Network show "Ghost Hunters" visited the Arnold House and found that at least five "entities" live in the house.

(SyFy Network)

The ghost hunters heard sounds from the bathroom, girls laughing in the dining room, spectres turning on lights (at the request of the show's hosts). One of the hosts even interacts with a ghost through a series of taps as responses to questions.

4. ... and so is the Air Force Museum.

Chris Woodyard, author of "Haunted Ohio," believes she is constantly followed while walking through the cavernous museum as she tries to read the information panels. She writes that many airmen were very attached to their planes and some of the pilots seemingly live in them still.

"The Hopalong" is a Sikorsky UH-19B that would medevac troops in Korea and Vietnam. The museum staff say they see the pilot in the seat, flipping switches and "trying to get home." The seat is actually still stained with that pilot's blood.

Sikorsky UH-19B Chickasaw at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

A young Japanese boy is said to hang around "Bockscar," the B-29 that dropped the "Fat Man" atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan. He supposedly comes out at night, when few people are around.

Boeing B-29 Superfortress "Bockscar" on display in the Air Power Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The "Black Mariah" is a Sikorsky CH-3E helicopter transport used for classified missions. It sits at the museum, still filled with bullet holes. People say you can hear the moans and voices of the troops it carried.

The Lady Be Good crash site in Libya with intact cockpit and nose with machine guns still in place.

Parts from the "Lady Be Good," a B-24 that disappeared during a bombing run on Italy, are said to rearrange themselves. The POW exhibit is supposed to make visitors feel an inexplicable sense of "sick dread" as they approach. Some airmen report that the ghosts actually "show up for work," by walking in the doors, opening lockers, and going into the break room. Even Nazis are reported to show up to the WWII exhibit.

The Consolidated B-24D Liberator "Strawberry Bitch." (Photo by Eric Kananen)

And finally, the museum's "Strawberry Bitch" supposedly houses the only malevolent spirits at the USAF museum. Reports of rattles and clanks, shadowy figures, and strange lights are common. One former janitor claims a ghost from the B-24D even slapped him in the face.

5. The Air Force is engineering alien technology.

The Roswell Crash wasn't the only extra-terrestrial crash in the U.S. — depending on who you ask. Some allege there were more before 1952, and all the debris and their pilots (with blue-green skin this time) were all taken to Wright-Patt. One of the crashes held as many as 16 alien bodies.

Also, they're adorable.

When there were any survivors, American medicine killed the aliens trying to save them. Cellular genetic research is supposedly conducted by the Air Force there.

Another crash yielded a ship made of lightweight material, impenetrable by any earthly means. Whenever a UFO crash happens, the wreckage is sent to Wright-Patt to be reverse engineered, or so the story goes.

Some believe technologies gleaned from UFOs at Wright-Patt include fiber optics, lasers, night vision, the integrated circuit, and particle beams.

6. The whole base is pretty much haunted.

The "Ghost Hunters" crew actually had their hands full at Wright-Patt. Building 70 in Area A houses a "waxy" figure clad in a blue polyester dress with a ruffled white shirt.

Others reported footsteps, electronics turning themselves on, and unexplained whispers in the same building.

In building 219, an old hospital converted to an office, children running and playing interrupted a Judge Advocate General's meeting in the basement — which used to be the morgue. The doors on the third floor once slammed shut all at the same time.

Children are creepy.

History

This pilot shot down an enemy fighter at Pearl Harbor in his pajamas

Comfort is important when doing a hard job. If it's hot on the work site, it's important to stay cool. If it's hazardous, proper protection needs to be worn. And comfort is apparently key when the Japanese sneak attack the Navy. Just ask Lt. Phil Rasmussen, who was one of four pilots who managed to get off the ground to fight the Japanese in the air.

Rasmussen, like many other American GIs in Hawaii that day, was still asleep when the Japanese launched the attack at 0755. The Army Air Forces 2nd Lieutenant was still groggy and in his pajamas when the attacking wave of enemy fighters swarmed Wheeler Field and destroyed many of the Army's aircraft on the ground.

Damaged aircraft on Hickam Field, Hawaii, after the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

There were still a number of outdated Curtiss P-36A Hawk fighters that were relatively untouched by the attack. Lieutenant Rasmussen strapped on a .45 pistol and ran out to the flightline, still in his pajamas, determined to meet the sucker-punching Japanese onslaught.

By the time the attack ended, Wheeler and Hickam Fields were both devastated. Bellows Field also took a lot of damage, its living quarters, mess halls, and chapels strafed by Japanese Zeros. American troops threw back everything they could muster – from anti-aircraft guns to their sidearms. But Rasmussen and a handful of other daring American pilots managed to get in the air, ready to take the fight right back to Japan in the Hawks if they had to. They took off under fire, but were still airborne.

Pearl Harbor pilots Harry Brown, Phil Rasmussen, Ken Taylor, George Welch, and Lewis Sanders.

They made it as far as Kaneohe Bay.

The four brave pilots were led by radio to Kaneohe, where they engaged 11 enemy fighters in a vicious dogfight. Even in his obsolete old fighter, Rasmussen proved that technology is no match for good ol' martial skills and courage under fire. He managed to shoot down one of the 11, but was double-teamed by two attacking Zeros.

Gunfire and 20mm shells shattered his canopy, destroyed his radio, and took out his hydraulic lines and rudder cables. He was forced out of the fighting, escaping into nearby clouds and making his way back to Wheeler Field. When he landed, he did it without brakes, a rudder, or a tailwheel.

There were 500 bullet holes in the P-36A's fuselage.

Skillz.

Lieutenant Rasmussen earned the Silver Star for his boldness and would survive the war, getting his second kill in 1943. He retired from the U.S. Air Force in 1965, but will live on in the Museum of the United States Air Force, forever immortalized as he hops into an outdated aircraft in his pajamas.

(U.S. Air Force photo)

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