I’m supposed to be packing, but instead, I’m procrastinating by reading about the five Navy Avenger torpedo bombers and the rescue plane that disappeared over the Bermuda Triangle in 1945. This is the most factual account I have found — the only one that doesn’t involve aliens or giant octopi caputuring the six aircraft — complete with citations.
Here is the Flight 19 story as it is usually told. On December 5, 1945, at 2:10 P.M., five Navy Avenger torpedo bombers took off from Fort Lauderdale. The experienced pilots were to fly a routine training mission, following a route that would take them 160 miles east, forty miles north, then 120 miles west back to Fort Lauderdale. Each plane was supposed to have a crew of three, but one crewman failed to show up (Cohen 53).
All five planes had passed preflight inspection, and all were well equipped with electronic homing devices (Massey 7), self-inflating rafts (Kusche 97), and ten-channel radios with emergency channels (Massey 7). Each crewman wore a life jacket (Kusche 97).
The first message from the crew came in at 3:45 P.M. “Control tower, this is an emergency… We seem to be lost.” (Kusche 98). Tower replied, “Head due west.” (Massey 7). However, the pilots didn’t know which way was west. “Everything looks strange,” they replied. “Even the ocean looks strange.” (Massey 7). This puzzled the tower. Even without a compass, the team should be able to use the sun to fly west. At 4:25, the flight leader announced, “We’re not certain where we are. We must be 225 northeast of base. It looks like we are…” (Massey 7). Silence.
Immediately, a Martin Mariner flying boat with a crew of thirteen took off to look for Flight 19. The Mariner sent several routine messages back to base before it, too, disappeared near where Flight 19 should have been (Massey 7-8).
At 5:04, the base received the last message from Flight 19. It was a faint message that repeated the flight’s call letters, FT FT (Berlitz 16). Search planes continued to look for Flight 19 for weeks, and still today the Navy has a standing order for crews to keep a lookout for the lost squadron (Kusche 100).
I found this all intriguing, but also a bit boring, so I moved on to read some of the wacky theories people have invented about the Bermuda Triangle over the years…
1. The Coast Guard’s Theory
Countless theories attempting to explain the many disappearances have been offered throughout the history of the area. The most practical seem to be environmental and those citing human error. The majority of disappearances can be attributed to the area’s unique environmental features. First, the “Devil’s Triangle” is one of the two places on earth that a magnetic compass does point towards true north. Normally it points toward magnetic north. The difference between the two is known as compass variation. The amount of variation changes by as much as 20 degrees as one circumnavigates the earth. If this compass variation or error is not compensated for, a navigator could find himself far off course and in deep trouble.
I read a little big more about this theory and basically discovered that except for a tiny corridor within the Bermuda Triangle, its basically, well, wrong. Most of the ships and planes that were lost over the area were not within the area in which the compass problems would exist, and those that were, were pretty well-prepared for the phenomenon.
2. The Gas Theory
Although Dr. Ben Clennell, of Leeds University, England, is not the first to make note of the possibility of methane hydrates as a source for causing ships to disappear, he has become identified with the theory which, on September 21, 1998, at the Festival of Earth Sciences at Cardiff, Wales, he proposed methane hydrates as the future of energy.
As a part of his elaborate disertation he claimed that methane locked below the sea sediments in the Bermuda Triangle can explain the mysterious disappearances. He told how subterranean landslides can unlock the vast beds of methane hydrate. This would be disastrous, he told the audience, because large amounts of methane would reduce the density of the water. “This would make any ship floating above sink like a rock.” He went on to explain how the highly combustible gas could also ignite aircraft engines and blow them to pieces.
Apparently, this is also wrong because the Bermuda Triangly isn’t really the area of largest methane concentrates in the world, and because there are experts in geology who say that a natural eruption of these gasses would be so rare it might happen once every 400 years. The methane would have to go through thousands and thousands of feet of sediment and ocean before breaking the surface and the chances of a ship or airplane being over the precise location of an eruption is “mathematically astronomical.”
3. The UFO Theory
The information on this particular theory is too vast to copy and paste or paraphrase. Basically, some believe that the Bermuda Triangle is situated on some sort of Blue Hole or time warp that can be used to communicate with and transport aliens to other planets. Often, these aliens capture ships and planes to use for experimentation in their own universes.
4. The Atlantis Theory
Again, a long and drawn-out tale. The great empire of Atlantis house on a continent the size of Europe is reduced to rubble on the floor of the Atlantic thousands of feet below what is now the Bermuda Triangle. While the ruined temples now host a variety of sea life, the great Atlantean fire-crystals that once provided tremdendous energy and power to Atlantis long ago, still exist and are still emitting strong beams of energy into the universe.
Unfortunately, however, when the destruction occurred some of these fire-crystals were partially damaged, which has resulted in them only being able to project their energy rays at random. It is said that each fire-crystal would have been at least twenty feet high and some eight feet wide. In Atlantis these fire-crystals would have been erected in a series of three, thus creating a vortex of astronomical energy and a power of the first magnitude.
From time to time, the force field emitted by these damaged Atlantean fire-crystals becomes very powerful and any plane or ship coming within the influence of this force field disintegrates and is transformed into pure energy. Hence the inexplicable and mysterious disappearances that has very often been blamed on the area of the ocean known as the Bermuda Triangle.
I don’t know that there is any proof against this theory, but it is a little out-there. However, when push comes to shove, I think I like this one the best. It’s rather mystical, not a bit evil, and makes a cool story.
What do you think? Compass problems, methane gas, UFOs, or the Atlantean fire-crystals of Atlantis?