I was just researching wartime superstitions and came across this striking anecdote. Major Hubert Knilans was an American bomber pilot who flew with the No. 619 Squadron in the RAF during World War II. As he was climbing to cruising altitude one evening, “The upper sky before me was still somewhat lighted. A figure of a woman several thousand feet high slowly emerged into my startled view.”

He realized she had the face of a young woman he’d loved but who had died suddenly of pneumonia some years earlier. “She had a slight smile on her lips as I flew towards her. The vision slowly melted into the darkening sky around us.”

He says he was “a bit uneasy” over this vision, uncertain “if she had appeared to reassure me that she would keep me from harm or if she was welcoming me into her world of the hereafter.”

Apparently it was the former — he finished the mission successfully and wrote up the encounter in his private memoir A Yank in the RCAF.