Flight 19 and the Mysterious Bermuda Triangle


A map of the Bermuda Triangle showing Florida, Bermuda and Puerto Rico

On December 5, 1945, fourteen airmen were lost during a routine training exercise in the Bermuda Triangle, as well as a subsequent team of thirteen rescuers.
(Image credit: Bigstock/wind art)

The Bermuda Triangle, also known as Devil’s Triangle, is one of the strangest locations on Earth. In a small part of the Atlantic Ocean that stretches over Florida, Puerto Rico, and Bermuda, there have been a series of missing planes, boats, and other strange and unexplained incidents occurring there over the last few centuries.

Bermuda Triangle Origins

The name 'Bermuda Triangle' goes back to an article written in 1964 by Vincent H. Gaddis for Argosy magazine, where the writer spoke about the disappearing planes and boats that had no viable explanation. However, although Gaddis coined the name, the topic dates further than him. In a 1952 article written for Fate magazine, George X. Sands spoke about the high number of unexplainable phenomena in the same region, as well.

The first notable disappearance goes back to the USS Cyclops which sank in the area in 1918. This 540-foot ship was a coal carrying ship during the first World War. On a trip from Salvador to Baltimore, the ship made an unscheduled stop in Barbados and subsequently vanished without a trace. The US Navy received no distress signal and there was no wreckage from the ship ever discovered. It remains the single greatest loss of life in the Navy’s history not related to combat.

Flight 19

Perhaps one of the most famous and tragic incidents involving the Bermuda Triangle occurred on December 5, 1945, when contact was lost with five Grumman TBM Avenger torpedo bombers that were performing routine training exercises for navigation and combat. After reporting that some of the group's compasses weren't working and then admitting they were lost, the entire group of planes disappeared and all 14 airmen were presumed dead.

When it was determined that Flight 19 was experiencing extreme difficulty returning home, several nearby air bases, aircraft, and ships were alerted. Several planes, some of which were performing training missions of their own, were diverted to the area to search for Flight 19.

One plane, a Martin PBM Mariner flying boat carrying 13 crew members, took off from Naval Air Station Banana River (now Patrick Air Force Base) for a search and rescue mission of Flight 19. After sending a routine radio message three minutes after takeoff, the flight was never heard from again.

Nearly two hours later, the tanker SS Gaines Mills reported flames and a pool of oil and aviation gasoline on the surface of the water. Its captain searched for survivors, but was unable to find any. The PBM aircraft was known to accumulate gasoline vapors in its bilges, and in subsequent investigations, it was assumed that the PBM most likely exploded in mid-air. However, the exact cause of the explosion--as well as the original loss of Flight 19--was never definitively determined.

An Unsolved Mystery

There has been much speculation as to what has caused these strange situations. From aliens and interdimensional rifts under the sea to sea monsters and military operations, everyone seems to have postulated a supernatural explanation about the Bermuda Triangle.

A tranquil day with blue skies over the Bermuda Triangle

Anomalies have been reported in the Bermuda Triangle dating as far back as the time of Christopher Columbus.
(Image credit: Bigstock/Zoom-zoom)
Some of the more recognized theories point to abnormal magnetic anomalies in the region. In fact, on October 11, 1492, Christopher Columbus reported seeing an unknown light at sea aboard the Santa Maria, just days before the landing at Guanahani. Others have suggested there is a high occurrence of methane from eruptions beneath the ocean floor which can reduce the density of the water, ultimately causing ships to sink as the froth cannot support their weight. More farfetched theories point to a race of hyperintelligent beings living beneath the sea and pulling the ships and planes down with intent.

Still, there have been several theories over the years as well that hoped to illuminate this situation and give it a more realistic explanation.

Plausible Theories

Although there is a massive mystery surrounding the Bermuda Triangle, some scientists and researchers have indicated that the mystery is not all that “mysterious.”

For example, in a 1975 book called The Bermuda Triangle Mystery – Solved, Larry Kusche pointed out that there was a noted storm connected to the disappearance of the ships or planes. In his research, he also noted that many of the disappearances that were connected to the Bermuda Triangle actually took place thousands of miles away, such as a ship that vanished in the Pacific Ocean.

Over 30 strange and unexplained incidents have been reported in this area since the time of Christopher Columbus. Human error is probably the most likely culprit for many of the disappearances, but a "logical explanation" may not apply to every single incident. Regardless of the truth and the theories, this area certainly remains a mysterious location of note and provides voluminous material for investigators and researchers of the unexplained.
 

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