At the Legends and Lore of Illinois, we salute our veterans and the millions of men and women who have served in the military to defend this great state, from the Black Hawk War to the Civil War and beyond. The military has fallen on some hard times here in Illinois with numerous base closures, but we soldier on. The two following issues focus on military ghosts here in Illinois, including those that haunt Chanute Air Force Base, one of the aforementioned base closures.
Chanute Air Force Base
Chanute Air Force Base in Rantoul was a vital part of the east-central Illinois economy for nearly 76 years. After its closure in 1993, much of the base was divided up into residential and commercial properties, but most of the core buildings have sat abandoned for 16 years. Inevitably, locals exploring this part of the base have begun to bring home stories of phantom airmen and other strange encounters.
This picturesque resting ground along the shore of Lake Michigan is home to a tale too strange to resist even brief mention. It is the tale of “the Aviator,” or as he is sometimes affectionately known, “Seaweed Charlie.” The Aviator is the ghost of a World War 2 pilot who died in a training accident in Lake Michigan. The ghost has been seen crawling out of Lake Michigan, covered in seaweed, across the busy street, and into Calvary Cemetery.