Do human beings possess precognitive powers? Are people actually seeing the future in dreams? Have you ever had a dream about future events? The people we’ll examine in this article claim to have had just such dreams and visions — and their stories check out!
His nerves shattered, the pilot managed to pull out at the very last moment from the spiraling dive that threatened to wreck his aircraft. To fix his position in the storm, he flew over the disused airfield he had seen only a day earlier. Incredibly, everything had changed. The hangars were busy. Strange planes, in unfamiliar colors, lined the tarmac. There were mechanics everywhere, but for some reason they didn’t seem to hear him as he roared overhead. It wasn’t surprising. He was seeing the airfield four years ahead of its time.
Unless he could regain control of his open-cockpit Hart airplane, Wing-Commander Victor Goddard knew he would be killed within seconds. The flier — later to become Air Marshal Sir Victor Goddard — had been caught in a storm near Edinburgh, Scotland. The year was 1935, and it looked as though it would be his last. Just in time, he was able to flatten out… but so close to the ground that a girl who was running in pouring rain had to duck her head to avoid his wing tip.
Goddard knew the neighborhood well. Only the previous day he had visited nearby Drem Airport, known to him from World War One. But it was, he discovered, disused, the roofs of the hangars falling in, the tarmac in sad disrepair. The airfield itself had been divided up by barbed wire fences into numerous pastures with large numbers of cattle grazing. Now, in this pressing crisis, he decided to fly over the airfield in order to establish his position.
The result was the strangest experience of his life.
One moment he was flying over the airfield boundary in deluging rain and in dark, turbulent flying conditions. But the next moment, on crossing the boundary, the weather conditions and the surroundings were transformed. Instead of storm there was golden sunlight, and in place of the disused airfield of the previous day there was now an operational airport, with newly laid tarmac and recently repaired hangars. To his intense surprise, on the ground were planes painted yellow instead of the duller aluminium then in use, among them being a monoplane of a type unknown to him.
Goddard said later:
“In the mouth of the hangar closest to me another monoplane was being wheeled out. The mechanics pushing it were wearing blue overalls. As I passed over them, having climbed from only a few feet above ground to just high enough to clear the roof of the hangar, I must have been making a great deal of noise and, normally, this would have caused a considerable sensation. Zooming the hangars, as I was doing, was a court martial offense! It was quite certain that those mechanics must have looked up at me (had I been ‘there’ to them) as I flew over so close. But none of them looked up. This struck me as very strange. It also struck me as strange that the airmen were wearing blue overalls. RAF mechanics had never worn anything but brown overalls when working in hangars on aircraft.”
The golden sunlight vanished as the Wing-Commander crossed the boundary of the airfield and he was back in the turbulent flying conditions which had so nearly caused his death. He climbed to 17,000 feet for the return flight to his headquarters and Andover in Hampshire, where, during the morning break, he told a group of wing-commanders about his amazing experience. He was received with incredulity. “Take less whiskey next time you go to Scotland,” one of his listeners advised.
Sir Victor Goddard decided that the less he said then the better. “Having heard my own story with, as it were, their ears, I myself became aware of its unbelievableness, and therefore did not repeat it to anyone else,” he said in his account written later. “An officer hardly wants to get a reputation for having hallucinations in the air; it was easy to be taken off flying for medical reasons, and I would not have liked my state of mental order to be called in question.” However, he wrote to his hostess in Scotland to tell her of his experience, and she thought “it all very peculiar.” Wing-Commander Haylock, one of the little group at Andover who was the first to hear this extraordinary story, remembers that the account of the vision was given on the day it happened.
War came to Britain in September 1939. At Drem Airport the farmer was removed and the airfield rebuilt to become an Elementary Flying Training School. The airmen were dressed in blue overalls when at work, yellow504N biplanes were in use there, and the Magister monoplane was introduced — the unfamiliar machine Goddard had seen in his vision of the transformed airfield four years earlier!
What was the nature of Sir Victor Goddard’s experience and the explanation for it? Looking back 30 years later he said:
“As to the quality of the experience and its relation to normal reality or to dreamland, there was something ethereal about the sunlight; it was brilliant and glorious, but yet somewhat other than normal bright sunlight. I had a strange feeling about the mechanics on the ground as real men. Although quite real in their movements and general manner toward their job, looking quite natural, yet they did not react naturally toward me and my zooming Hart close overhead. Evidently they neither saw nor heard me. But I could see both my airplane and them at the same time. Afterward I wondered whether, in the context, they were more real than I was! But I had remained flying in my airplane; I was not disembodied. I was aware of my change of circumstances but also of the noise that my airplane made, and I was aware of the appropriate sensations as I swooped over the hangars. I was not in any degree unconscious of my actions. I had, however, been suffering from mental shock and was certainly under stress of anxiety. I had been really frightened by the loss of control in the cloud, by the certainty of death, and I continued to be highly tensed by the rigors of the flying conditions. It is hard to be definite in what one says about sensing the difference between a dream and a vision. The yellow airplanes seemed to be totally real. So did the gleaming hangar roofs, black like the backs of great whales, only a few feet beneath me.”
A Dream of Death
Whatever the explanation, it seems that the curtain that veils the future was lifted for Sir Victor Goddard when he flew over Drem Airport and saw it as it was to be on the outbreak of war four years later.
Sir Victor continued to have uncanny experiences. The most weird — and it involved an event in the future which almost came true — happened at a cocktail party given in his honor in Shanghai in 1946. He overheard the astonishing news that he had been killed in an air crash — a crash that was yet to happen!
On the morning of the cocktail party, Captain Gerald Gladstone, Royal Navy, who ended his career as Admiral Sir Gerald Gladstone, woke up with the conviction that Sir Victor was dead. He was unable to account for this conviction because he had never had an experience like this before nor has he since. All that day he expected to be told of the Air Marshal’s death, but when no news was received of it he went to the party, where he told an astonished fellow guest that he was glad the party had not been postponed because of Victor Goddard’s death, and Goddard overheard him!
A most embarrassing conversation followed, with profuse apologies from Captain Gladstone. “I’m not quite dead yet,” the Air Marshal smiled. “What made you think I was?”
According to Sir Victor, Captain Gladstone said, “I dreamed it. I had a dream! Last night… or was it this afternoon? I could have sworn it was true. It seemed so true. How frightful!”
“What else did you dream about?” Goddard asked. “Where did it happen?”
“It was a rocky, shingly shore, in the evening, in storm. It was awful, a snowstorm. Don’t know where it was China or Japan. You’d been over the mountains in cloud. Up a long time… I watched it all happen.”
The naval officer added that in addition to the Royal Air Force crew the plane that crashed–“an ordinary sort of transport passenger plane. Might have been a Dakota”–was carrying three civilians, two men and a woman. All were English.
Sir Victor Goddard thought it was impossible that the plane assigned to take him to Tokyo would be called on to carry three civilians, but this is precisely what happened, and the Dakota that took off the following morning carried three civilians, one of them a woman.
After a dreadful flight in cloud, some of it over the mountains of Japan, the captain of the Dakota crash-landed the plane during a snow storm in the early evening on the rocky, shingly shore of Sado Island off the coast of Japan. Every detail of the prediction had been fulfilled–except that the passengers survived.
This amazing true life story was seen by millions in the film The Night My Number Came Up, but, as Sir Victor Goddard himself has pointed out, various script writers made significant changes in the story.
The famous author J. B. Priestley, who has always been fascinated by the paradox of precognition, tells in his Man and Time of the experience of a man, who in his childhood and youth suffered from attacks which lasted a day or so and kept him prostrate with blinding headaches and nausea. Lying in a darkened room, toward the end of each attack he would experience a kind of passage “through a succession of colors, so vivid that hey hurt — the reds, blues, greens and purples merged and wavered,” then they would separate and seem to submerge him in the intensity of their glare. At this point, each time, he would feel fully awake and would vomit, and then would sleep long and soundly and wake feeling refreshed and quite well.
Years later, in World War Two, when he was with the Royal Air Force in Malaya, Japanese fighter planes shot up a convoy he was traveling with in the mountains. He and the other men were ordered to scatter in the surrounding jungle. “As I burst through the green maze,” he said, “I saw a small ravine below me, occupied by Australian machine-gunners. A Japanese fighter, swooping low, seemed to be following me with personal intent, and I dived into the security of the ravine. At that moment the world exploded into a hell of color. All the jagged splinters of red, blue, green and vivid purples caught and swamped me and flung me among the gunners.”
A bomb in fact had just burst behind him and blown him into the ravine. The next thing he knew he was being violently sick. Later he was taken prisoner. But never again did he have the old attacks, or see the bright menacing colors and then be sick. “The early events became a foreshadowing of what happened in Malaya; they were almost like rehearsals of it,” Priestley concluded.
Before his son, Gus, was killed in a plane crash the comedian Michael Bentine was warned in a vision of what was going to happen.
“The precognition came during the day — 12 weeks before the crash — and I saw clearly the aircraft, saw it flying into cloud, and then crash into the ground. All that was missing was when it would happen.”
Mr Bentine told his son about it in his mother’s presence, as Mrs Bentine afterwards confirmed. She was naturally upset. “I warned him to take care and I had never before warned him in his life,” the comedian added. “I never tried to stop him because the individual must have free choice.”
On August 28, 1971, Gus Bentine was a passenger in a plane piloted by another young man which disappeared shortly after takeoff from an airfield in Hampshire. Nine weeks later the wreckage of the plane, and the bodies of the two young men, were discovered in a wood 16 miles away. If Gus Bentine had heeded his father’s warning, based on a vision, he could have been alive today.
The Radio Cut Out
One who did heed a warning conveyed in a vision about an impending air disaster was Mr Jack Roberts, a British businessman who, in August, 1956, was visiting Bogotá, Columbia. At midnight on August 16 he agreed to join some local businessmen in a flight to Tunja, 100 miles northeast of them, to inspect a factory, but on returning to his hotel he found a close friend, Mrs Gisela Hass, whom he intended to marry, deeply upset because she had had a premonition of disaster, and she begged him not to go. Mr Roberts slept well that night but in the morning he found Mrs Hass literally ill with anxiety. She explained that in the early hours, while in a drowsy state, she had seen in a vision a small plane crashing in the mountains.
As a result of the repeated warnings of his friend Mr Roberts agreed to stay with her and tried to persuade Mr Roger Vaughan and Mr Hernandez, two directors of a firm interested in the factory at Tunja, to postpone the flight, but they decided to go without him. An hour and a half after the plane, a Cessna, took off from the airfield, 9,000 feet above sea level, it crashed near Choconta and all in it were killed. Mrs Hass was so certain of the fate of the plane that before news of the crash was received she went to three churches to pray for divine intervention to avert the tragedy.
Dr J. C. Barker, a consultant psychiatrist who had played a leading part in the setting up of the British Premonitions Bureau to give early warning of impending disasters, rubbed his eyes sleepily when the telephone rang in his home at 6 a.m. on March 21, 1967. He roused himself when he realized his caller was Mr Alan Hencher, a night telephone operator for the Post Office who had a gift for precognition. Mr Hencher, speaking from his home in Dagneham, Essex, said in troubled tones:
“Aircraft Caravelle over mountains. Will be leaving in early morning between Sunday and Monday– it is going over mountains. It is going to radio that it is in trouble. Then it will cut out and there will be nothing. There are 123 or possibly 124 people on board. It is going to crash shortly after takeoff. I can’t tell exactly where or when it is going to happen. Once person is saved in a very poor condition. I have had this feeling for a week, but has been very strong in the past two-three days…”
Dr Barker took notes while Mr Hencher was speaking because he knew that it is important, whenever possible, to have written evidence of a warning in advance of any happening to which it may refer. Dr Barker kept these notes by him and was astounded to hear on April 20 that a Britannia airliner had crashed into a hilltop near Nicosia in Cyprus earlier that day with the loss of 124 lives. Radio contact was lost before the airliner crashed.
Later reports said that the Britannia carried 120 passengers and a crew of ten, and four people were saved, so the death toll was 126 and not 124. The plane was a Britannia and not a Caravelle, but even for all that the prediction was remarkably accurate. It is interesting that Mr Hencher should interpret the figure 124 as the number of people in the plane whereas first reports gave this as the number of people who had been killed.
Mr Hencher began to notice an ability to predict future events in 1952, two years after receiving a head wound in a car accident. He told Mr Peter Fairley, then a science correspondent of the London Evening Standard and co-founder with Dr Barker of the British Premonitions Bureau, that since the accident he regularly gets a sharp pain like migraine in his forehead which lasts half a minute, followed by a dull feeling of pain at the back of his head where he was hurt in the accident. Reporting the premonition got rid of the headache.
A Gift for Disaster
Premonitions, he found, took anything from five minutes to two weeks to develop. “Sometimes I see things in black and white — sometimes in color. Often I get a figure in my mind, as though someone had spoken it. The details seem to come almost as headlines, and they come afterward. As regards geographical locations, I don’t get place names. I only see the immediate area and certain features. Occasionally I see words written , or see peoples’ lips moving, but I’m not near enough to get a clear picture.”
Mr Hencher had other premonitions of air disasters. On May 1, 1967, he had a premonition of a plane crash with many survivors and much sadness and he told Dr Barker that the tail fin featured in it. Asked in advance by Dr Barker for the reason for the feeling of sadness, Hencher replied “children.” On June 4 an Argonaut belonging to British Midland Airways en route from Palma, Majorca, to Manchester crashed at Stockport, with the loss of 72 lives. Among the dead were a number of children. In all the news pictures of the crash and on TV the tail fin featured prominently as it was the only part of the plane that was more or less intact.
Mr J. B. Priestley was sorting out the piles of letters he received as a result of his appeal for premonitions when he had a call from a neighbor and friend whom he knew to be both intelligent and scrupulously truthful. At Priestley’s request his friend related this truly amazing story:
“Since the age of five I have had intermittently very quick previsions of happenings which have subsequently occurred. The odd thing about them is that they have always been accompanied by the picture of the name of the person mainly concerned in the event. For example: “Three weeks before the death in an air crash of the Duke of Kent during the war, I was playing some ball game in the garden of our house in Wales when I had a sudden vision of an airplane at the moment of impact with the ground. Just above the ‘picture’ was written as a kind of headline the words “The Duke of Kent”.
“About a fortnight before the death in a Comet air crash I had a ‘picture’ of an aircraft exploding in the air with the words ‘Chester Wilmott‘ written as a headline above the picture. I expect you’ll remember him as a well-known war correspondent.
“About two days before his death in a car crash I saw the name of the film star Bonar Colleano written above the ‘picture’ of a very violent smash up.
“These are three examples out of about ten in all which I recall. They are all, incidentally, of violent death, and always the name of the person involved appears as a kind of headline. The only person I have ever related these occurrences to is Barbara [ his wife] and she can confirm some of them. There is no preliminary to having the ‘picture’, each one occurred during the day, and, as I recall, each one has occurred when I was out of doors.
“The first two or three I took no notice of at the time of having them, but I remember vividly being brought to consciousness of them as a result of feeling no surprise when the ‘real’ even actually happened. In short, I already knew, and when the news was announced it was as if it were ‘cold’ news.”
Priestley’s friend remarked that the possession of this uncomfortable gift was “disturbing enough to have made me hide them [the experiences] away from myself and others for a very long time.”
Lorna Middleton, a well-known English psychic, wrote to the Central Premonitions Registry in New York on December 1, 1969, to say that she had a premonition that there would be a disaster connected with a mountain and that a plane may crash. “I see people climbing up a side of a mountain in mud mainly, but they are heavily clothed. They climb because of an accident. Plane or train — it is always difficult to distinguish…”
With the letter she enclosed a sketch of men and women pulling themselves up the side of a steep mountain.
On December 8, 1969, a news dispatch from Athens reported that 90 people were killed when an Olympic Airways DC-6B plane crashed into Mount Paneion during a storm. Rescue workers climbed up the side of the mountain for three quarters of an hour before they reached the scene of the wreckage.
Britain’s greatest air disaster was the crash of a British European Airways Trident at 5:11 p.m. on June 18, 1972, at Staines, Middlesex, a few minutes after it had taken off from London (Heathrow) Airport for Brussels. All 118 people on board were killed. Among them was Dr John Raeside, who had a premonition of disaster before he left for a conference in Brussels. “It is not that he thought he would be killed; he just felt very strongly that he didn’t want to go to the conference,” his wife said later. “But with me it was more clear. I had the premonition that something would go wrong. As I got home I turned on the radio and knew he was dead before I heard it.”
At ten minutes past four on the day of the Trident crash Miss Eliot Bliss, a member of the Society for Psychical Research, was lying down in her home in Bishops’ Stortford, Hertfordshire, on the point of going to sleep for an hour (she had been very ill) when the word ‘Trident’ flashed through her mind, accompanied by a ‘snap shot’ picture of this plane but on the ground, where indeed it was at the time. “Curious, I wonder why I thought of that?” she mused before dropping off to sleep. She knew the answer to her question when she heard of the Trident crash on the six o’clock news.
Glimpses of the future come in the form of mental impressions, feelings of unease, and visions when awake, but most often in dreams or in the twilight state between sleeping and waking. One of the most bizarre previews of an air disaster was given to Mrs G. H. M. Holms, wife of a retired member of the Indian Civil Service, who saw in a dream a body falling from the air three days before this actually happened.
A Sickening Thud
In July 1930 Mrs Holms was on holiday in Goathland, Yorkshire with her husband and daughter. On the night of Friday 18 she dreamed that she was walking by herself in an unfamiliar scene in which there were apple trees, and a short distance ahead of her, on the path, two laborers were working.
“The sky was completely covered with low-lying light-gray clouds, and suddenly, out of the clouds, high up on my left the body of a man came shooting down at a slightly curving slant, head first, at a terrific pace, as if from a great distance. My brain seemed super-active. I took in his whole appearance instantaneously as he fell. A medium-sized, very-well-set-up figure, in a well-cut gray suit, with well-cut fairish hair, clean shaved. I did not see his full face, only his back and side view. The great momentum carried him down to my right, where he landed on his head a few yards from me, with a sickening thud, and with the thud I heard something crack and said out loud, ‘There goes his skull’. The body rebounded once and then rolled over once or twice, a yard or two, and bumped into a tree, which stopped it. I saw the top of the mutilated head which was toward me. It was smashed in like the top of an egg, and covered with blood.”
In her dream Mrs Holms saw the laborers hurry to the scene of the accident and carry the body to a cottage. When she woke she described her dream to her husband and daughter. On Tuesday morning, July 22, Mrs Holms was astounded to read of a terrible air catastrophe at Meopham, Kent, in which Lord Dufferin, Lady Ednam, Mrs Loeffler, two men and a pilot had been all been killed by falling from an airplane which broke up in the air. In her dream she had seen the fall of one of the passengers.
All six victims of the accident had fractured skulls. Dame Edith Lyttelton, a noted investigator for the Society for Psychical Research, who studied carefully the evidence given at the inquest, and reports of the accident in different newspapers, concluded that “These reports confirm that Mrs Holms had foreseen the details correctly.”
Was ever a vision proved correct in more vivid and horrifying detail?