The Challenger Explosion / New England Paranormal

Hosted byGeorge Noory

The Challenger Explosion / New England Paranormal

About the show

In the first half, British author Adam Higginbotham discussed his new work on the Challenger space shuttle disaster of January 28, 1986. The shuttle exploded just 73 seconds after launch, killing everyone on board. For many people, the Challenger disaster-- like JFK's assassination and the 9/11 attacks, remains a moment in which a person can describe exactly where they were when it happened, he noted. The proximate cause of the accident was a failure of the solid rocket boosters related to problematic O-rings that could lose their seal from hot gas inside the rockets or cold temperatures. After the disaster, America's optimism about the space program diminished, and it changed the trajectory of NASA's missions, he remarked.

Two rocket engineers tried to stop the fatal launch of Challenger the night before its final flight, including Roger Boisjoly, who warned that the weather may be too cold given the issue with the seals. After the accident, they fought an attempted cover-up and brought the truth to light at what would be great personal cost. Challenger's crew was diverse: Judy Resnik and Christa McAuliffe were women; Ron McNair was a Black man; Ellison Onizuka was Japanese-American. There had been enormous interest around McAuliffe, who'd been chosen as part of the 'Teacher in Space Program' and during the call-in portion of the interview, Pat from Pennsylvania phoned in and recalled how she was chosen as one of PA's teachers to compete in the program, and trained with Christa in D.C. and then was part of a group of teacher finalists watching the ill-fated launch at Cape Canaveral. 


In the latter half, author, speaker, and Emmy-nominated host Jeff Belanger shared paranormal legends and mysteries of New England. One of the tales he recounted was that of Gardner Lake in Salem, CT, where a phantom piano is heard playing at night. The location was where a wealthy grocer tried to move his two-story home in 1895 to a different part of the lake, and it ended up getting stuck in the frozen lake and ultimately sinking. At the time of the move, the house contained all his furniture, including a piano. Mount Washington Hotel in New Hampshire, Belanger continued, is reportedly haunted by the ghost of an heiress, whose apparition has been spotted in her suite, as well as on a balcony where she used to peer over partygoers.

Another haunted site is Emily's Bridge in Vermont, where some say they can hear crying when they drive by and turn their car engine off. He delved into strange creature sightings in New England, including Champ, the lake monster/serpent, seen for over four centuries in Lake Champlain, and the curious 'Dover Demon' a small being with glowing eyes and a large head, witnessed by artist Bill Bartlett in 1977, who made a sketch of it. Belanger also talked about UFO sightings in the area, such as America's first documented case, in Boston in 1639, and cemetery oddities like the gravestone of David Sherman in Bridgeport, CT whose epitaph says he was struck and killed by lightning while attending church in 1771. 

News segment guests: Christian Wilde, Kevin Randle

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