USS Hornet's paranormal side explored in weekend conference

USS Hornet's paranormal side explored in weekend conference

Janice Worthen

The USS Hornet is an aircraft carrier with a long and rich history of service. She was awarded nine battle stars during World War II, operated in Vietnam and recovered Apollo 11 and Apollo 12 and their crews; the first men to set foot on the moon also stood on the Hornet’s decks.

Since 1998, her service has shifted to education. She now rests at Pier 3 in Alameda as a museum, open to the public. Visitors can relive the Hornet’s adventures while touring the ship and her exhibits, but according to Heidi Schave, education director for the USS Hornet Museum, history may literally come alive on board.

Schave said visitors have experienced unexplained noises and sensations in various part of the ship and have seen strange shadows or lights while on board. In the forecastle, Schave said, visitors have reported seeing shadows of people in the catwalk and “have heard the sound of someone walking on the catwalks there, which makes a booming, echo-like sound of footsteps that is unmistakable.”

“We often have interactions with ‘spirits’ with the K-II meter," Schave said, referring to an electromagnetic frequency meter popular with ghost hunters, "and this can be in front of a room full of people.”

The Hornet was even featured on an episode of the television show "Ghost Hunters" that explored the over 300 accidental, self-inflicted, and battle-related deaths that occurred on the ship and the paranormal activities that the show's hosts believe may have resulted from them.

Visitors can see for themselves at the Second Annual Grey Ghost Paranormal Conference, hosted by the Hornet and Alameda Paranormal Researchers. The event takes place on Saturday, February 22, and visitors can choose from three access packages ranging from $50 to $150.

This year, conference speakers include the SyFy Channel’s Bill Murphy and Ben Hansen, Ram Ramirez of "From Beyond," FX special effects makeup artist Roy Wooley, Dead Explorer’s Alejandro Dominguez, paranormal writer David Weatherly, and UFO investigator Robert Salas.

Proceeds benefit the Hornet’s Stem to Stern program and will be used to pay for transportation for schools participating in the program. A portion of last year’s proceeds has allowed the Hornet to offer a scholarship program that provides reduced program fees to qualifying participants.

Schave said that the Hornet’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) programs see hundreds of students a year and allows them to “explore the wonders of electricity, magnetism, weather, and aviation” through hands-on activities. According to the museum’s website, the “goal of each HORNET educational program is to use the unique, stimulating environment of this historic aircraft carrier to teach science and history concepts in an interesting, interactive, fun manner.”

Schave said last year’s event raised $8,000 for educational programs, and she hopes this year’s event doubles that amount.

“The community was very supportive of us and people seemed really excited about exploring the USS Hornet and supporting this wonderful educational cause,” Schave said.

All-access packages allow visitors to participate in a paranormal investigation with guest speakers and enjoy a pre-investigation dinner. The second- and third-level access packages allow visitors to extend their stay on the ship and participate in an “overnight paranormal investigation” where they can sleep in the ship’s bunks and enjoy breakfast on board.

Of all the activities that happen during the conference, Schave said the overnight stay ranks among visitors’ favorite because they can explore the ship at night on tours. Visitors can also see what it’s like to live aboard an aircraft carrier by sleeping in crew quarters.

Reservations for the Second Annual Grey Ghost Paranormal and Overnight Investigation Conference can be made online, or by calling 521-8448.