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Castle Air Museum local hot spot for paranormal activity

Castle Air Museum local hot spot for paranormal activity

This photo was taken by the Turlock Journal at Castle Air Museum in August 2009. Raz'n Hell, the B-29 pictured here, was constructed from four B-29 Superfortress hulks found in the Mojave Desert.

POSTED October 31, 2009 12:04 a.m.
When paranormal investigators come to the Central Valley, one of the first places that is of interest to them is the Castle Air Museum in Atwater. Employees, guests, and volunteers at the museum have reported spooky happenings ever since Raz’n Hell, Castle’s B-29 Superfortress, was resurrected from the sands of the Mojave Desert 30 years ago.
According to Castle records, Raz’n Hell was constructed from four old Superfortress hulks found at China Lake Naval Station’s gunnery range in 1980. A crew of Castle workers pieced the planes together over the next 18 months.
Caroline Venable, executive secretary of the Castle Air Museum’s board of directors, said that reports of ghostly activity started while the work on Raz’n Hell was still in progress. Venable and other museum staff believe that there is a male spirit haunting the B-29 and the museum grounds, and his name is Arthur.
“Arthur has been around for quite a while,” Venable said.
Museum guests are so captivated by Arthur’s story that staff made a hand-out of reported activities for guests to read and take home. According to the hand-out written by museum staff, “a séance was conducted and during the session an Ouija board spelled out his name and described him as a radio operator.” The name reportedly given by the Ouija board was “Arthur.”
Venable has had a few of her own experiences with Arthur. She describes him as mischievous, but mostly harmless. One day she was in her office with a museum volunteer when a piece of paper lifted up off the desk, as if there was someone there holding it. The paper then fell to the floor as if it had been thrown. Venable said that it did not look like the wind blew the paper, but rather an invisible person was holding it.
“We both started laughing and said ‘Arthur!’” Venable said.
Just last week Venable had another encounter with the museum’s resident spirit. She said that she was downstairs in the gift shop speaking to a female cashier when a picture fell off of the wall and the frame shattered. Venable said that the frame was attached firmly to the wall, and nothing happened to knock it down. The nail wasn’t bent or broken either.
“And we were on the other side of the counter,” Venable said.
Venable has experienced other things that she attributes to Arthur, and has heard stories from other staff, guests, and volunteers. The stories range from an adding machine that started typing on its own, to sounds of footsteps and voices in the empty museum, to feelings of cold spots and the presence of another person. Numerous guests have taken photographs with unexplained blurry images or orbs that they believe to be photos of spirits.
“Customers will take a picture like that and when they try to give it to us it just won’t copy,” Venable said.
Museum Superintendent MSgt. Richard Zeunges spoke about his own experiences with unexplainable events in a document published by the Castle Air Museum.  
“While closing the Museum one night last winter, I placed the office trash cans in the hall for morning pickup and went downstairs to secure the artifacts room,” said Zeunges, “Suddenly, I heard the rustle of paper and what sounded like one of the cans being moved. I ran upstairs and found a bag had been removed from one can and laid down next to it.”
Zeunges was alone in the building and could not explain how the bag had moved.
Castle Air Museum and their B-29 have drawn the attention of paranormal investigators from all over. Venable said that four or five ghost hunting teams have visited the museum, including TV crews from Myth Busters, Ghost Hunters, and the History Chanel.
Last Saturday, the Turlock Journal followed a team of paranormal investigators on a research expedition at the Castle Air Museum. Western Region Paranormal Research is a self described non-profit group in search of scientific proof of an after-life. The group was co-founded by Barbara Rubis-Johnson, who headed the group at Castle Air Museum.
The team included researchers, mediums, debunkers, and a tech support team. A medium is someone with a connection to the spiritual world, who claims the ability to feel the presence of spirits that others cannot sense, according to WRPR. A debunker is a team member who finds scientific or logical explanations for phenomena that seems other-worldly. The team used EMF detectors to measure the electromagnetic frequencies in the area. Paranormal investigators believe that spirits emit an energy that can be detected by this type of equipment.
They also used voice and video recorders, which they set up in the B-29 and the indoor museum. Team members recorded themselves asking questions in the aircraft, with the hope that the recorder would pick up answers that couldn’t be heard at the time.
After reviewing the recordings and photographs taken at Castle Air Museum, Rubis-Johnson said that the team found two recordings (also called electronic voice phenomenon) and two photographs that indicated the presence of a spirit. One photograph in particular caught her attention.
“It looks like two faces in the pit of the plane, one in each window,” Rubis-Johnson said.
Whether evidence is found or not, those who have experienced weird happenings at Castle are firm believers in Arthur and his attachment to Raz’n Hell.
“If Arthur does in fact exist, I feel he wants to come in from the cold,” said Zeunges.
To contact Andrea Goodwin, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2003.

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