Lost Track Of Time

Ben H. Swett
Torrejon Air Base, Madrid, Spain
30 April - 1 May 1961

On the night of 18-19 April 1961, my aircrew flew a B-47 from New Hampshire to Spain. That afternoon, we rode the bus downtown to look around Madrid. The next morning we went on alert, which meant we lived in the alert barracks for a week, ready to get to our aircraft immediately if and when the klaxon sounded. (The klaxon was a very loud horn that could be heard everywhere on the base.)

We got off alert on 27 April for a week of "rest and recuperation" (R&R). Because there were plenty of empty rooms in the alert barracks and we wanted to explore Madrid, we left our stuff where it was and rode the bus to town and back each day.

On Sunday, 30 April, we stayed in the barracks to rest. That afternoon, I decided to see if I could leave my body and go visit my mother in Arkansas. I sat in an armchair, told myself to return and wake up when the klaxon was tested at 6 p.m., and systematically turned off all the switches by which I normally operate my body. (How I did that is not the subject of this report.)

I left my body and traveled west, toward the sun. I thought I should be moving much faster, but I flew like an airplane across Spain and Portugal and out over the Atlantic Ocean. Then I somehow accelerated, to the Fayetteville, Arkansas, airport. My mother lived a few miles south of the airport. I headed south along Highway 71, but sailed right past her house. I turned around and tried again, but flew past her house again. Several times. For some reason, I couldn't land there. After awhile I gave up and thought about going back to Spain, but it wouldn't be easy, because I would not have the sun to follow. I wandered around northwest Arkansas for awhile and then drifted into a dream.

Then -- pop! -- I was back in my body. The klaxon was sounding. I felt somewhat spacy and disoriented. Enroute to the bathroom, some of the men looked at me sideways, and one said, "Welcome back." When I started to wash my hands and face, something swung out away from my chest, over the sink, and got in the way. It was a piece of cardboard about six inches wide, hanging on a string around my neck, with a hand-lettered sign on it that read: DO NOT BURY FOR 30 DAYS.

I went back to our room, held up the sign, and asked, "What's this?"

My aircraft commander, Dick James, said, "You shouldn't scare your friends like that. You had us worried. We couldn't wake you up. And we couldn't find a heart-beat. You were still breathing -- about once a minute -- and I thought it might not be a good idea to move you, so we just left you sitting there. But you really should set an alarm clock, or something, before you do that."

"I did. I told myself to wake up when they tested the klaxon."

"Oh ... I guess you forgot ... they test it every day except Sunday. This is Monday."

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It is easy to lose track of time during out-of-body travel -- and it can be dangerous.

How long would I have been out, if I had not set something like an alarm clock?

What would have happened if my friends had panicked and called an ambulance? If the medics couldn't awaken me, they would take my body to the base hospital, and if the doctors couldn't awaken me, they would radio for a Med-evac flight to a larger hospital -- where there would be no aircraft on alert and thus no klaxon.

In fact, my body could have been flown to the hospital at Frankfurt, Germany -- or San Antonio, Texas -- in far less time than the 26 hours I was out of it.

How many comatose people are actually out-of-body traveling?

Until recently, a body that looked that dead probably would have been buried alive. That is what almost happened to Jarius's daughter (Mark 5:35-43). Everyone said she was dead. Jesus said, "She is not dead, but sleeping." They laughed at him. He held her hand, said, "Maiden, arise" -- and she did. I think she was out-of-body traveling, and he called her back to her body.