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Destinations: Spooky stuffDestinations: Spooky stuff

Fly to Salem, Massachusetts

My favorite Halloween movie hands down is the 1993 film Hocus Pocus.
Pilot Briefing October 2020
Salem Harbor in Salem, Massachusetts.

The Gothic-style building and entrance lead into the Salem Witch Museum, a popular tourist attraction. The area is famous for the so-called Salem witch trials and this museum offers visitors education and the history of the area.This Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker scary/silly fun fest depicts Salem, Massachusetts, as being over-the-top into Halloween, as the movie’s protagonist discovers when he moves here with his family from California. Since he is surfer-cool, he thinks the whole witches and conjuring thing is silly and attempts to prove it by…well, I won’t ruin it for you. However, the movie has always made me wonder if, in fact, Salem is really that witchy this time of year. Turns out it is.

The closest general aviation airport is in Beverly, Mass (don’t add the rest of the state’s pronunciation, as the locals don’t bother—it’s Beverly, Mass or Salem, Mass or Boston, Mass). Beverly Regional Airport (BVY) bills itself as “the intelligent alternative to Boston” but Boston’s General Edward Lawrence Logan International Airport (BOS) is close to Salem, too (16 miles).

Salem is, of course, famous for the Salem witch trials, which took place between 1692 and 1693. It was the deadliest witch hunt in this country’s history. It seems a questionable thing to capitalize on, but Salem has embraced its sad history and rounded out the tragedy with the fun and frivolity that is Halloween. Landmarks include the seventeenth-century Witch House, Gallows Hill, the Witch Trials Memorial, both a wax and witch museum, and even a statue to the television show Bewitched.

All year long these sites are open for tours, but beginning in October, things really get spooky—such as courses on witchcraft, a psychic fair and witches’ market, Ouija board Wednesdays, a costume ball, a Haunted Happenings parade, and, yes, a Hocus Pocus high tea.


Julie Walker

Julie Summers Walker

AOPA Senior Features Editor
AOPA Senior Features Editor Julie Summers Walker joined AOPA in 1998. She is a student pilot still working toward her solo.

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