The Bermuda Triangle
Off the southern tip of Florida lies a phenomenon called the Bermuda Triangle. Ships, planes, and over one thousand lives were lost in the Triangle without a trace. Theories have been put forth, but still no universally accepted explanation exists for the mystery that surrounds the Bermuda Triangle.
The Bermuda Triangle covers almost 440,000 square miles of the Atlantic Ocean. An imaginary line that begins near Melbourne, Florida, extends south to Bermuda, and west to Puerto Rico before turning north to Florida, forms the Triangle. From 1972-1999, more than one hundred planes and ships have vanished into thin air. More than one thousand lives have been lost as well. One frightening aspect of this entire saga is that disappearances continue to occur at an alarming rate.
A small part of the Bermuda Triangle lies in the Sargasso Sea. This sea is best known for its tall, thick, floating seaweed called Sargassum. The seaweed is thought to be a forest that once rested on an island in the Atlantic Ocean. According to legend, the island sank at a very quick pace, taking with it the forest and vegetation.
One of the most notable disappearances is that of Flight 19. The flight consisted of five Navy TBM Avenger torpedo bomber planes. Mechanics had certified the planes fit for flight. Flight planes were checked thoroughly and appropriately filed with the proper authorities. There were no indications that this mission would be anything other than a routine experience for the crews of these aircraft. Even the weather was cooperation. The forecast predicted clear skies and calm winds.
Flight 19 left the Fort Lauderdale Airport at 2:10 p.m. on December 5, 1945. At 3:40 p.m. Lieutenant Robert Cox noticed his radio begin to crackle. The transmission seemed to be directed to Powers. The person identified himself as FT-28, the call sign for Flight 19. FT-28 radioed that both of his compasses were out, and he was trying to find land.
At 4:26 p.m. Fort Everglades Rescue intercepted a transmission from FT-28. Immediately, the rescue team called several stations along the coast and asked them to turn on their radar and attempt to locate the lost flight. At 6:04 p.m. Lieutenant Taylor radioed his flight crew to tell them they were off course and needed to adjust their course to a more easterly direction. That exercise appears to have mysteriously taken them further from land. At 7:04 p.m. all radio communication ceased.
In an attempt to find the lost flight, a Martin Mariner PBM-5 flying boat was sent to search for the mission squadron. The flying boat left Fort Lauderdale Airport at 7:27 p.m. At 7:30 p.m. the planes radio failed, and flight disappeared forever.
By dawn on December 6, 1945, the largest search and rescue mission over air
and sea was underway. Before the sun would rise that day, over 240 planes and 18
ships would be deployed to search for Flight 19. Later that morning, the Royal Air
Force would send out planes to assist in the search. Numerous land teams would crisscross the Bahamas and the Florida Keys searching in vain for signs of survivors or wreckage that may have washed ashore. One search and rescue ship, the S.S. Gaines Mills, radioed at 7:50 p.m. that they had observed a burst of flames that rose one hundred feet high and lasted for about ten minutes. Ships and planes rushed to the area, but no signs of debris or survivors were found.
After five days of intense searching, the rescue mission was canceled. No wreckage, survivors, or explanations were found for the disappearance of Flight 19. Forty-six years later, May 8, 1991, a computer-controlled submarine scanned the ocean floor for sunken galleons. On this day, the crew of the Deep Sea would be unsuccessful in their search for galleons. Instead, 750 feet below the surface of the ocean, they would discover the outline of an airplane that clearly appeared to be a Navy Avenger. Two hundred yards away they discovered another plane and eventually accounted for five aircraft. Could this Flight 19?
The planes appear to have been ditched. The canopies were open, and some of the propellers were bent back. One of the planes had the marking FT on its side, which was the designation for Fort Lauderdale. The plane also had the number 28 on it, which was Lieutenant Taylors plane number.
Several theories have been submitted to the Navy, civilian government officials, and newspapers regarding the disappearance of this flight. An engineer in New York submitted a set of very detailed drawings in which he depicted the five planes and the flying boat in a massive mid-air collision. Unfortunately, the drawings left too many questions unanswered. Many theories insisted the wind blew the planes off course; however, the Navy insisted that the prevailing winds on this night were not strong enough to support such a theory.
Many doctors of science also submitted suggestions. Dr. Manson Valentine suggested a magnetic phenomenon that could have been set up by flying saucer. Dr. Stanley Krippner believed a black hole in space, called a vortex, existed where planes and ships that entered the Triangle did not come out.
Airplanes arent the only things disappearing in the Bermuda Triangle. Many large and obviously heavy ships and tankers, approximately twenty, have disappeared
as well. One of the more intriguing disappearances was that of a U.S. Navy supply
ship. Known as the U.S.S. Cyclops, it measured over five hundred feet long and weighed more than nineteen thousand tons. The ship set sail on March 4, 1918, during World
War I. The oddest thing about this ship was its crew. The captain was a German who was thought to be mentally ill because he often walked about the ship in long underwear and a derby hat. Among the passengers were the former U.S. Consul to Brazil, three naval prisoners under indictment for murder, and two AWOL marines. The U.S.S. Cyclops disappeared without a trace. No record exists of a distressed radio communication coming from the area. Researchers do not believe the ship encountered bad weather, and no wreckage was ever discovered.
Many have suggested that a tidal wave struck and flipped the U.S.S. Cyclops, but did not sink the huge vessel. The Navy quickly discounted that theory because the ship was not in a storm and no wreckage was found. Others thought that the German captain took over and held the ship, but the government never found any trace of the ship or the crew after the war.
Not only have ships disappeared in the Triangle, but many ships have been found with no one aboard. One very mysterious case involved a boat called the Mary Celeste. In November 1972, a ship came upon the Mary Celeste and hailed her. After receiving no reply, the captain boarded her and found the boat deserted. All sails were cast, and the casks of cargo she was carrying were untouched. There was plenty of food and water onboard, but the crew of ten was nowhere to be found. Money, personal possessions, and even the captains log were still intact on the boat. The most unusual circumstances were that of the captains room, which was boarded up as if to repel attackers. The captain who stumbled upon her took the boat, and to this day there is no explanation for the disappearance of the crew.
Numerous industrial and commercial airliners have been lost in the Bermuda Triangle. British South American Airways had a short, unhappy life due to the Triangle. The airline lost three large planes. Two of them, the Star Tiger and the Star Ariel, vanished without a trace. Later, the Star Dust disappeared with no explanation near Santiago, Chile. The Star Ariel was on a flight to Chile on January 17, 1949, when it stopped in Bermuda for a brief rest. Upon continuation of its journey, the pilot radioed the command center that he was changing radio frequencies because of static on the line. The plane and its passengers were never heard from again. The plane was lost close to the same location as her sister plane, the Star Tiger, almost exactly one year earlier.
In 1969, a National Airlines 727 passenger plane was approaching the Miami Airport in anticipation of landing. While being closely tracked by the Miami Air Control Center, the plane suddenly disappeared from the radar screen. Ten minutes later, the plane reappeared on the screen and landed without incident. Upon arrival at the terminal, the flight crew was surprised to hear that their plane had temporarily and mysteriously disappeared. Flight instruments were checked for accuracy with no abnormalities discovered. Suddenly, a member of the flight crew noticed his watch was ten minutes behind that of a ground crew member. The rest of the flight crew soon confirmed their watched were also ten minutes slow. This was especially odd because the flight crew had performed a routine time check only twenty minutes before the incident, and at that time there was no difference.
Although many lives have been lost in the Triangle, people have survived crises in this area. Dick Stern, an Air Force pilot during World War II, tells of a particularly intriguing even that happened in The Bermuda Triangle. It was December 1944, and he had been ordered to report for active duty. He was to pilot a plane from the United States to Italy with a refueling stop scheduled in Bermuda. After a brief stop in Bermuda, Stern resumed his journey. Shortly after returning to the air, his plane flipped over and was violently tossed through the air at a high rate of speed. He was able to regain control of the aircraft only after an intense struggle with an unexplained force. Upon his return to Bermuda, he learned that five of the seven bombers in his squadron were lost at sea without explanation.
Nearly seventeen years later, Stern was on a passenger flight with his wife from Europe to Miami with scheduled stops in Bermuda and Nassau. Dick and his wife had met the pilot and were eating lunch with him when Stern began to relate to the pilot the story of his earlier experience in the Triangle. As the talked, the plane suddenly shuddered and began to shake violently. There was no turbulence or bad weather in the area. After fifteen terrifying minutes, the shaking ended, and the flight continued without further incident. Was this merely a coincidence? We may never know. However, Dick Stern does not plan to return to the Bermuda Triangle ever again.
People from all walks of life have proposed several theories about these abnormalities. Suggestions that a gigantic octopus exists seem too far-fetched. Scientists studying the conditions in the Triangle agree that it could be an atmospheric, gravitational, or electromagnetic disturbance. Dr. Manson Valentine suggests: There may be various and sometimes inimical groups of space visitors and some of these visiting entities may be related to us. Ivan Sanderson theorized: The increasing threat to our own ocean environment may be shared by highly developed life terms within the ocean.
Many unidentified objects have been seen entering and leaving the sea and in the sky. Captain Dan Delmonico is a lifelong sailor. His reputation is that of a calm observer not susceptible to over-reacting. He made two almost identical observations in April 1973. Both sightings were made at about four oclock in the afternoon. He saw a gray object shoot through the water directly in front of his boat. He guessed its size to be 150 to 200 feet long and its speed to be at least sixty to seventy miles per hour. As it approached, it veered around the boat to pass as if it knew he was there. As it passed, he noticed that it invoked no turbulence and the surface of the water never broke.
In spite of todays advanced technology, scientists are no closer to solving the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle. Only theories exist to explain the loss of over one hundred planes and more than one thousand live to this Triangle of Terror. The discovery of Flight 19 raised more questions than it answered. Will the mysteries of the Bermuda Triangle every be solved? Nobody knows.
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Bermuda Triangle. Encarta Encyclopedia. 1999 ed.
Jeffrey, Kent Thomas. Triangle of Terror and Other Eerie Areas. Warner Books: New