WICHITA — As executive director of the Kansas Aviation Museum, Lon Smith often works late – and alone – at the 1934 building, which was Wichita’s first airport terminal.
One night at about 1 a.m., he says, “I heard a loud, loud screaming sound. Sounded like a female voice more than a male.”
He walked in the direction of the sound to the darkened atrium, which once was a waiting area for passengers. He turned on the lights and started to investigate.
“When things like that happen, I tend to look for explanations, like there’s wind blowing through a window jamb or something like that,” Smith says. “It wasn’t anything like that.”
So Smith says he returned to work.
“All of a sudden, there it was again,” he says. “It was really like a blood-curdling, chills-up-your-back, somebody’s-getting-hurt kind of sound. Like if it had been a real person, I would have thought I need to go save this person from some kind of untimely demise.”
Instead, he left the building.
“I hate to admit it, but I was a little frightened.”
After six years of working there and experiencing about 25 unexplained incidents such as this, Smith has decided to start sharing his experiences.
“For quite a long time, I did not share anything about these incidents because it was my belief that some people might be worried about visiting the museum,” he says.
Smith says he’s changed his mind on the counsel of a trusted adviser.
“This could be something very interesting for the museum and could generate a lot of interest among the citizens and other visitors to the city,” Smith says the adviser told him. It “finally just convinced me that … we should share this information.”
There have been stories of paranormal activity at the museum for years, including in some media accounts, but Smith now has plans to try to capitalize on that. In addition to starting to share some of the stories via Facebook, the museum is going to have an event built around the unexplained activity this fall.
“We are planning an event, but I can’t talk about the details yet,” Smith says.
There’s likely to be dancing, costumes, stories and candlelight at a party in October.
Smith says though some “pretty freaky” things have happened, he’s no longer upset by them like he was in his first year at the museum.
“Maybe it’s ghosts. Maybe it’s aliens. It could be that it’s some physical … phenomena that there is some logical explanation,” he says. “I don’t know. All I know is that it happened.”
He’s had professionals, such as an electrician, try to help find answers to no avail.
Although he’d like to monetize what’s happening and share stories about it, Smith says he’s not particularly concerned about it otherwise.
“I just don’t pay any attention to it.”