By Scott Prater
When Capt. Stan Maczek was a young child he responded to frightening sights and sounds in the dark like most of us: He pulled the covers up over his head and hoped the event would pass quickly.
Nowadays, Maczek, sprints enthusiastically toward those “events.”
He’s not sure what to call himself; ghost hunter, spirit seeker or paranormal investigator, but he’s sure this is the most exciting hobby he’s discovered yet. His fellow PI, Josh Burger, a Schriever contractor, thinks the same way. He also plays golf and the guitar, but paranormal investigating has pretty much captured his attention during the past six months.
It all started last year when Burger mentioned his parents owned a haunted home nearby in Calhan, Colo.
“Our investigations began recently, but I’ve been fascinated by this phenomenon since I was a child,” Maczek, 1st Space Operations Squadron, said. “I grew up in a haunted house in Maryland. My parents used to hear voices in their bedroom. I figured if just one of them heard them we could explain that as some sort of schizophrenia, but not both of them. My father was a U.S. Army research lab scientist and very skeptical. He didn’t believe in paranormal stuff until this happened.”
Another part of the hobby Maczek enjoys is performing research. Prompted by the strangeness that occurred at his house in Maryland, he managed to find some history on the property.
“The house was relatively new, built by an original owner who employed subcontractors,” Maczek said. “As it turns out, he had some financial trouble and didn’t pay the subcontractors. Eventually the house fell into financial disrepair and my parents bought it at auction.”
Maczek told his story to Burger, who responded by relaying his own story of his parents’ home in Calhan and of the strange events that were happening at his current home. The investigators researched both homes and found nothing eventful, but the process piqued their curiosity.
That’s when Burger purchased some equipment, including an infrared motion-sensor camera.
“I kept noticing this shadow in my basement, so I turned the camera on that spot and left it on overnight,” he said. “The next day I found the camera had captured this strange shadowy mass and it’s something I can’t really explain. Since then we started making plans to investigate other places.”
The tools of the craft are a gadget enthusiast’s dream.
The investigators carry an electro-magnetic field detector, what some folks call a ghost detector. Maczek says it just reveals whether an electro-magnetic field is present or not. They also use Burger’s IR camera, which presents a green-tinted image and allows the investigators to shoot in dark rooms.
“People may be familiar with the IR image because that’s what they use on those television ghost hunter shows,” Maczek said.
It’s important to make that distinction because part of Burger’s motivation for investigating is to debunk those types of shows.
Maczek’s motivations stem from his curiosity, his psychology education and his religious leanings.
“I’m attempting to answer life’s big questions, but with my psychology background I don’t just believe something at face value; I’ve got to have evidence,” he said. “I’ve got to see it and record it and I’ve got to be able to show it to somebody and say there is a face or a body or something there. That’s kind of the challenge. Nobody has really found that yet.”
Both admit reaction to their endeavors run the gamut.
“We get mixed reactions in most cases,” Maczek said. “First, I explain I’m not crazy and that I’m as sane as the next person, but that I’m just trying to investigate and see what I can find out. Even though I’m in the Air Force I’m in no way associated with the AF or DoD as far as this investigating goes. It’s just my own fascination.”
Sometimes they are warmly received, other times not and many remain skeptical, but agree to let the PIs go ahead with their investigations.
“We’ve had only a few investigations so far that haven’t revealed much, but we’re planning to visit locations on Fort Carson and the Pioneer’s Museum downtown,” Maczek said. “Word-of-mouth has spun around my neighborhood too so I’ve done some investigations there.”
Burger finds the proposition of investigating buildings where people have reported activity extremely exciting and even plans to bring his teenage son along for future investigations.
In the meantime, Maczek’s squadron commander has thrown well wishes to the pair.
“I encourage our entire 1 SOPS team to find ways to get involved with our local community to make positive impact,” said. Lt. Col. Mike Manor, 1 SOPS commander. “Although some people may be skeptical about this type of research, I’m sure there are many within our community who are equally interested in Maczek’s work.”