Spirits of the Midway

It’s that time of year again… during which people’s thoughts turn to Halloween-related ideas and stories. In this month’s “Karl’s Korner” our Social Team takes over to embrace this spirit and explore the unknown onboard Midway…

Midway After Dark

Simply put, we are sometimes asked here at the museum if the ship is haunted. We put that question to our onboard expert on that topic, David Hanson, the museum’s curator. As the leader of San Diego’s largest paranormal group, he has had ten years of experience with investigating the paranormal both on the Midway and around California. He led the investigations that took place on the Midway many years ago (none are allowed at this time), and he is the keeper of a log of all spooky incidents that are reported by staff, volunteers, and guests on the Midway.

David believes that all historic museum ships are haunted to one degree or another and that the Midway is no different. However, he prefers to use the term “paranormally active” rather than haunted, as the latter term has negative implications for some people. According to Dave most all hauntings are not negative; it is only Hollywood and TV whose emphasis on the rare negative hauntings that has conditioned us to believe that paranormal encounters are scary or even dangerous. What’s more likely, though, is a situation like the classic example of the deceased kindly grandfather who hangs around to keep an eye on his family. There’s no negativity, and it is only scary to some because of their fear of the unknown.

Here on the Midway, we have many reports of encounters with ghosts and spirits of past Midway crewmen. These reports have come to us from many sources for as long as we have had the ship here in San Diego. There are even two known reports of ghosts being onboard the Midway when she was still in service. One such entity is said to have occupied a food cold storage locker in the bow on fourth deck, while the other was reported in the early 1990’s in the Career Guidance Counselor’s office near the stern (he is supposedly still there according to some).

David is quick to point out that he doesn’t fear the former crewmen of the Midway who are no longer of this world. Those that are on the ship today are usually not ones that died onboard the ship, but who instead passed away later in life and who have decided to return to the ship that they love out of a sense of duty and/or camaraderie with their shipmates. He says “If that is their choice to be here, we welcome them. We love and honor the Midway just like they do.”

Many of the paranormal encounters here onboard are not with ghosts or spirits, but are instead incidents of “residual energy”. This is not a human soul, but it can be thought of as an energy pattern from the past that replays itself under certain conditions. This can take the form of a vision (still or moving picture), sounds, smells, sensations, and more. This energy pattern is usually attached into one area or environment and can be experienced by those sensitive enough to notice it. These energies have no consciousness, and so they cannot interact with you. If the paranormal encounter is interactive in some way, it is not a residual energy incident.

We continue to get reports from staff and guests about new encounters onboard. David says that some of them don’t fit the usual mold – they aren’t sailors or Marines, but instead are civilians, including female spirits. While some may have a connection to the military, others seem to be here just as visitors, little different than the thousands of normal guests who come through our admissions gate daily. David even has an EVP (audio recording) from one of the early investigations where the spirit is heard to say “What is the name of this ship?”. It was the first sign that we had entities onboard that didn’t belong here. They normally don’t take up residence here, they just pass through and are not encountered again. It seems that the Midway is just as fascinating a draw for those “on the other side” as it is with our more visible visitors.

Here at the Midway, we don’t dwell on the topic of ghosts, and we only discuss it publicly at this time of year.

Launch em’… until next time,
Midway Social Team