The "Flying Crank Ghost" has got to be the best documented Halloween prop out there. I wondered why people were fanatical about the Ghost until we built one. Everyone that saw it liked it.

This video shows the Ghost as she appeared "live".


Here is our finished ghost figure lying on the ground. She is a  wire armature with cheesecloth and two old curtains as her shroud. We washed the material in RIT whitening so that it would fluoresce under blacklight.

Her armature is (of course) coat hanger bent into basic shape with free moving loop joints at shoulders and elbows. We taped all exposed ends of the coat hanger to prevent the shroud from snagging.





Her hands are little girl's 'glamor gloves' from the dollar bin stretched over coathanger fingers and stuffed with batting. The wrists are taped to the wire forearm, and the sleeves of the shroud are hot-glued to the top of the gloves.

Her face is a Mardi Gras mask (around $4) with cheesecloth glued over the contour of the face with enough excess material to form a veil over the rest of the head. We stuffed a white grocery bag full of other bags to form a ball to round out the back of the cranium. Then we poked the coat hanger through the bag-ball to form the hook with which to hang her. Some strips ripped into the cheesecloth and tied behind the bag-ball held it all together. We also put a strip of black duct tape on the bag-ball behind the eyes of the mask to make them appear hollow.

The marionette mechanism (bottom view) is just an "I" frame of aluminum "L" channel. The white reflector at the bottom of the picture is a blacklight mounted to the frame. We did this because she was going to be mounted high above the spectators and there was no good alternative for mounting the blacklight.

The dimensions of the frame were based on the spacing that we desired between her hands and the forward distance of her hands to her body. The rear cross member is much longer than necessary - I don't cut to length unless necessary. The spacing of the two central cross members was based on the width of the wiper motor's plywood platform since it was already assembled from previous props.

This is a top view of the mechanism, showing the motor and power supply. Initially we mounted the pulleys securely to the frame, because they were pivoting pulleys. The line jumped the pulleys consistently, so we tied the pulleys loosely with nylon rope instead, and they moved much more freely and never failed. The Ghost operated outdoors in difficult weather with 20 MPH wind gusts, but never had any trouble.

Black boot laces proved to be a cheap and functional line to tether the Ghost to the crank pivot.

Here is a side view of the mechanism, showing some detail of the motor and power supply.