North East Aircraft Museum (now NELSAM)

North East Aircraft Museum

RAF ghosts have been an interest to me since 2015 when myself and Chris both caught on camera what we believe to be the ghost of a dead RAF pilot. We later found out that he was stood literally meters away from a field where there was an RAF crash during WWII. It was an event that was life changing for us both, and for a few weeks we were all over the local and national news stories. Below is some of the press coverage the footage received.

The Mirror 

The Daily Mail 

The Express 

The Evening Chronicle

The truth is, a lot of men served in RAF bases during the two world wars across Britain. Some of these still exist, some are now airports, some are racetracks, and some have been built on. Many of these sights saw many accidents, a lot of them fatal, and there have been hundreds of stories of paranormal encounters.

The town of Thornaby is built over what was RAF Thornaby. Several housing estates and shops now occupy the site. But many people have seen a man in a grey trench coat inside their homes. He has also been seen in nearby woodland (where a plane did crash after takeoff). The local snooker club often has reports of poltergeist activity at night. It is claimed that the owners, who live upstairs with their family, have reported their young child often talks to “a man called Peter in a dark coat” at night. The snooker club is built in the exact location as RAF Thornaby’s infirmary.

Many of the dead from RAF Thornaby are buried in Thornaby Cemetery, and many others claim to see the outlines of soldiers standing beside the war graves.

And then there is RAF Lindholme near Doncaster. In September 1941, a plane flown by Polish pilots on a mission returning from Cologne in Germany, as descending to the runways of the RAF base when they crashed in thick fog in Hatfield Moore, just meters from the edge of the runway. 4 men died and 2 were seriously injured. The crash site is still visible with a memorial built there.

But one in particular stands out, and that is 18 year old Sgt Wictor Wasilenko…or Lindholme Willie as those who have seen his ghost refer to him. He was a regular at a local pub in Hatfield while stationed here, and that was where his ghost was first seen, on the night of the crash. Drinkers at the pub reported hearing about the crash, as they prepared for a game of darts, and in walked Willie. He was quiet that night, but there are many eye witness accounts placing him in the pub that night. The next day, his name was on the list of servicemen missing in the crash.

It was Christmas 1967, and Peter and Jennifer Wharton stopped at the pub for a drink. They noticed a strange man standing in the carpark, who was wearing pilot’s clothing. They thought nothing of it until they went inside and asked the barman, who he was. The barman looked from the window and he could see him too. He walked to the bar and pulled 2 brandies, downed one himself, then took the couple outside. As the barman raised his glass to the pilot, he turned and nodded back, and then faded away.

Lindholme Willie was also been seen in the final years of the RAF base walking around the base, standing at his crash site memorial, and in the prison cells of the jail that was built on the site of part of the base.

The barracks of RAF Ouston are said to be haunted to this day. Sightings if pilots have been made on the sands by RAF Barrow, and many other locations where RAF bases once stood have had reports of bizarre activity. 

It was time to visit NEAM, an aircraft museum, built among the hangars of RAF Usworth, near Sunderland.


For many years, The North East Aircraft Museum has been simply called ‘NEAM’, including its appearances on TV’s Most Haunted. However, it is now known as NELSAM (North East Land, Sea and Aircraft Museum).

My first ever ghost hunt here in January 2010. I had just started my own radio show, and this was the first location that got back to us to say we could do a live ghost hunt in there.

Planes have landed on this site since 1916, but it was during WWII that facilities at RAF Usworth were upgraded, and it saw plenty of action. After the war, it was well maintained until the site was bought by Sunderland Corporation for £27,000 and turned into Sunderland Airport in 1962. It served as a small airport until it closed on the 31st May 1984, when the land was sold to Nissan, who planned to built a car factory on the location of the runways. As of 2019, Nissan is still the largest employer in the area, with over 7,000 workers working there.

The Callender-Hamilton hangar and the old camp area from the old RAF Usworth site now form part of NEAM, and it houses many aircraft.

What about the ghosts of this site? In my research, I have found 15 plane crashes occurred either at RAF Usworth, or were flying from ot to Usworth.There have been many fatalities in the area. One is said to be a Canadian man called George Hamilton who died here. One source claims he died falling from the top of a hangar after he had been sunbathing there, another claims he died in an accident. A guard at the RAF base he was locking up the Lamella hangar when he saw a WWII airman “hovering about a foot above the ground”. Guard dogs would refuse to go anywhere near the same hangar at night.

Members of the Flying Club were based in this hangar, and they are said to have witnessed the ghost several times. One time, an instructor called Steve was working late one night on a plane, when a man in WWII RAF clothes walked up to him. He did not speak, but gave a thumbs up, and vanished into thin air.

One man who worked at the Nissan car plant, which is built on the site, claims to have seen the ghost of an airman on 3 different occasions. He claimed one one occasion, he and several colleagues also saw the same man, who had a mustache and an RAF uniform on.

The aircraft museum is also very much said to be haunted. A pilot called Sgt. Shaw is said to haunt the museum after a Spitfire was recovered and stored inside one of its collections. He is to blame for footsteps heard in the museum and canteen area at night. His boots are kept in a storage cupboard containing other parts of wreckage, and he is believed to be looking for them. Others claim to have seen a pair of black trousers walking from beneath the planes. When they go to see who is there, they find that they are the only ones in the area. Historical research by Dead Air’s historian Georgia has found that a Edgar Grenville Shaw aged 21, was in fact stationed here, and died in a crash close to Wingate, in the area around White Hurworth farm.

There is the story of a man and a woman who haunt the area where a medical facility once stood. It is believed they met and had an affair together, and one night they were both killed in a car crash. Strange flashes of light, the sounds of talking and cold spots are often experienced here.

The sounds of ‘click click click’ are blamed on a ghost called Frank who required the use of a walking stick to get around after his leg was badly injured in action.

The ghost of a Czech spy called Augustine Preucil has been picked up by mediums around the site on many occasions, and he is believed to be the same dark shadow that people witness walking between buildings and peeping out from around corners in the dark shadows. He was based here during the war, but has sympathies towards the Nazis, who had invaded his home country prior. He managed to infiltrate the RAF and gained many secrets in doing so. One day, on a dog chase practice mission over the North Sea, Augustine sent his plane into a downward spiral, leading other pilots to believe he was a goner. He had really managed to bring the plane back up and flew it to Belgium where he landed it. An elderly couple working for the resistance took him in, but he soon fled and reported them to the German army, who killed them. After the war, he was hanged by his own country for spying.

Another area of interest is a former Westland Whirlwind XN258 search and rescue helicopter. It has been involved in a number of rescue missions around the world since the 1950s, but most notably, it was involved in a rescue mission in the 1960s when a boat race hit bad weather. A number of people died onboard the vessel that day. Volunteers at the museum feel uneasy around this aircraft, and it is often said to rock from side to side on its own. Photographs have also captured strange lights inside.

You get the idea – this place has many stories. Children have apparently had full conversations with WWII pilots inside the hangars, and when they’ve told their parents, it has been apparent that there was nobody else inside. Workers at Nissan still blame ‘the ghost’ whenever something goes wrong or there is a malfunction. This place is active. On my first visit here in 2010, I saw a small stone land at my feet while I was alone in one of the hangars, and one of the NEAM volunteers claimed he saw a shadow walking across a grassy area at the back of the site.

Visit The North East Aircraft Museum

Old Washington Road,
Tyne and Wear

Phone: 0191 5190662

The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday (10am-4pm) and costs £6.50 for adults, and £3.50 for children. Under 5s go for 50p.

This satellite image from ‘Airfields of Britain’ shows the location of NEAM, inside the red annotated circles. The yellow lines are the old runways and perimeter roads, and red blocks are the location of hangars and other RAF buildings. The white buildings on the image are the Nissan car plant (image courtesy of Airfields of Britain conservation Trust)

RAF Usworth overlay

Paranormal Investigations at NEAM (also known as NELSAM)

Links to groups that run public ghost hunts at NELSAM.

Kindred Spirit Investigations

Spiritus Paranormal

Spirit Seekers

Lone Vigils Investigations