A FORMER fighter pilot claims he spoke to the ghost of a colleague at Glasgow Airport.

Captain Bob Hambleton-Jones said yesterday that he had no idea that Robert Macleod, a friend and fellow pilot with Loganair, had died in an Edinburgh hospital four days earlier.

The two men had known each other for nine years and Captain Hambleton-Jones, who lives in Paisley, said: ``I'm not some kind of crank. I know who I saw and who I spoke to.

``He came up to me and said, `How's it going, you old bastard?' It was great to see him. We chatted for a couple of minutes and then he said, `I must go now.'

``I picked up my bags and turned around but he wasn't there. He was gone.''

It was the following day, last June 16, before a friend drew his attention to Mr Macleod's obituary in a newspaper, which confirmed he had died in Edinburgh Royal Infirmary on June 11.

Captain Hambleton-Jones, who has recently retired from flying, said: ``I was stunned. I thought it must be a mistake or a sick joke.''

Psychic research experts who investigated the claim say Captain Hambleton-Jones has had a paranormal experience which they call ``a post-mortem apparition''.

Captain Hambleton-Jones, who insists that he is ``an agnostic, a real Doubting Thomas, and the original sceptic'', contacted Professor Archie Roy of Glasgow University. He is a professor of Mathematics and Astronomy and is Scottish Head of Psychic Research.

Captain Hambleton-Jones, said: ``I told Professor Roy what had happened. He said that perhaps I had seen an actor or a lookalike.

``But Robert and I were captains in the same fleet for nine years and I know I spoke to him four days after he died.''

Ms Tricia Robertson, of the Scottish Society for Psychical Research, said: ``A post-mortem apparition happens when someone dies unexpectedly. His spirit is going about as normal because he doesn't believe he is dead.

``Such events are not that unusual. They happen more often than you would think.''

Mr Macleod, the son of retired Stornoway electrical contractor N D Macleod, died suddenly after a liver biopsy.

Management at Glasgow Airport are concerned that news of the ghostly encounter may scare off passengers. Airport managers and the British Airports Authority refused to discuss it - and did not want the airport named.

Captain Hambleton-Jones's experience will be featured in a 13-part Discovery Channel TV television documentary on the paranormal which the makers claim will be a sensible treatment of the subject