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The Bermuda Triangle - Mystery, Myth, and Supposition


Note: The images and descriptions were taken from Wikipedia and are not part of Emma's original article - added for interest only.

The Bermuda Triangle – an ill-defined area in the Western North Atlantic between Bermuda, Florida, and Puerto Rico - has fired horrified imaginations for decades. Since the 1950s, people have considered this area an ominous one, in which planes and shipping are liable to vanish without trace, or experience horrific accidents, at any given moment. The truth of the matter is ill-understood. While many vehicles have indeed come tragically a-cropper in this area, the idea that the Triangle is exceptionally dangerous is disputed. Human error is frequently blamed by the theory’s detractors, with many have citing the drinking culture of Bermuda and its environs for the high incidences of plane and ship loss. Bermuda, a British Overseas Territory, has all of the infamous drinking culture of Britain with much less of a legal clampdown.

Binge drinking is rife in the area, and, historically, it has been something of a haven for American alcoholics seeking a more carefree environment in which to evade treatment options put before them and indulge their lifestyles without fear of legal or social censure. However, to imply that pilots lost in the Bermuda Triangle were simply too drunk or hungover to fly properly is perhaps to do them an injustice. There may well be other reasons behind the tragedies of the Bermuda Triangle – and it may not even be a ‘phenomenon’ at all.

Right: A five-masted schooner built in 1919, the Carroll A. Deering was found hard aground and abandoned at Diamond Shoals, near Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, on January 31, 1921.

Proportionally Normal:

Given that the Bermuda Triangle is one of the most heavily shipped and flown areas in the world, it is perhaps not surprising that, probability-wise, it should have accrued a relatively substantial record of losses. The area is not recognised by the US Navy, and the willingness of certain vocal parties to attribute the ‘phenomenon’ to supernatural causes has led others to consider it something of a crackpot theory. Channel 4’s investigation into the Bermuda Triangle pointed out that, given the busy nature of the shipping lane, the marine and aviation losses in the area were statistically no more substantial than would be expected. However, it is the nature of the losses which have occurred that have proven disturbingly suggestive to some.

Navigational Malfunctions:

Many pilots flying over the zone in question have reported navigational equipment malfunction – compasses going haywire, altimeters displaying incorrectly and so forth. Frequently such malfunctions are accompanied, according to reports, by curious cloud and weather phenomena. When faced with a blank expanse of water or cloud, with no landmarks by which to navigate, equipment malfunctioning can easily lead to planes flying out into the Atlantic until they run out of fuel and vanish beneath the waves. Given that the Triangle contains some of the deepest areas of the Atlantic, including the deepest of all, the Puerto Rico Trench, it would not be difficult for planes to disappear completely and never be found. Therefore, although some have pointed to alien-abduction or space/time rifts as the cause of the complete disappearance of many planes, the true mystery appears to be concentrated in what causes the equipment to go wrong as swiftly and spectacularly as it does.

Flight 19:

Several pilots have reported such worrying navigational issues in this area. Most famously of all, five American TBM Avenger torpedo bombers – ‘Flight 19’ – disappeared while on a training flight over the Triangle in December 1946. It was a routine training flight, scheduled to depart from Fort Lauderdale and fly due east for 141 miles, then north for 73 miles, and back over 140 miles on the return journey to base.

This is the legendary 'Lost Squadron', the crews of five Grumman TBM Avenger torpedo bombers that vanished over the Bermuda Triangle on December 5, 1945

During the flight, pilots radioed base increasingly frantically, reporting the failure of both their compasses and stating that they were lost. There was nothing that base could do to help, and the final transmission from the planes carried only the noise of the engines. The generally accepted opinion of the US Navy is that the pilots became lost due to navigational equipment failure, and the squadron flew out into the Atlantic until fuel ran out and they ditched into the ocean. The failure of magnetic compasses attuned to the magnetic field of the planet is, however, rare. Magnetic anomalies do occur – in space, something known as the South Atlantic Anomaly disrupts the magnetic field of the earth, and presents a hazard to spacecraft. Astronauts have reported conditions similar to those sometimes attributed to the Bermuda Triangle in the South Atlantic Anomaly, with strange bursts of light and equipment malfunction among other things. This, however, is attributable to causes understood by science. Investigation of the Bermuda Triangle, by contrast, has revealed no comparable magnetic or radiation-related anomalies. In fact, compared to other magnetically problematic spots on the planet, the Bermuda Triangle is rather staid and boring.

Storms and Timewarps:

Right: On August 28, 1963, a pair of US Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft collided and crashed into the Atlantic.

Pilot Bruce Gernon claims to have flown through something of a ‘timewarp’ in the Bermuda Triangle. According to his account, he attempted to pilot his plane through a ‘tunnel’ between two coalescing storms, the velocity and intensity of which he had never seen before. Upon entering the ‘tunnel’, his navigational equipment began to malfunction. Simultaneously, air traffic control back in Florida entirely lost track of his plane. Although they could hear him over the radio, to all other intents and purposes, the plane simply did not exist. Gernon claims to have seen ‘lines’ racing along the sides of the ‘tunnel’, before the phenomenon collapsed behind him and he found himself flying over Miami Beach – 48 minutes ahead of schedule. Such a feat would have been quite impossible for his plane, were it not propelled by some extreme force or have experienced some sort of time-travel phenomena. Many, however, are sceptical. It has been noted that Gernon’s description of the ‘lined’ tunnel bears a marked resemblance to depictions of ‘hyperspace’ travel in the Star Wars movies and Star Trek television series. Furthermore, it has been pointed out that a traumatic experience within an intense but perfectly normal storm could have caused Gernon to lose track of time in the heat of the moment.

Gamma Rays and Methane:

G-AHNP Star Tiger disappeared on January 30, 1948, on a flight from the Azores to Bermuda; G-AGRE Star Ariel disappeared on January 17, 1949, on a flight from Bermuda to Kingston, Jamaica.

Some have mused that a particularly fierce pair of storms clashing over the Atlantic (as is not uncommon in this area) could potentially cause the release of Gamma-Rays (yes, the very same rays to which Bruce Banner was fictionally exposed). Bursts of radiation such as this could easily knock out the navigational equipment of planes, and perhaps even bring them down. More recently, scientists have found that the Bermuda Triangle and its environs are littered with methane eruption sites. In a methane eruption, vast balls of trapped methane would rise from the sea bed and make their way into the atmosphere. Ships caught in this part of the ocean would immediately lose buoyancy and head for the bottom, while planes in the path of the bubble would suffer engine failure and possibly even ignite the gas before plummeting. However, this theory does not account for the reported equipment malfunction, and the seeming ability of planes to continue flying despite faulty navigational devices.

On December 28, 1948, a Douglas DC-3 aircraft, number NC16002, disappeared while on a flight from San Juan, Puerto Rico, to Miami. No trace of the aircraft or the 32 people on board was ever found.

A Self-Perpetuating Myth:

Perhaps the greatest mystery of the Bermuda Triangle, however, is how it still manages to engage our imaginations. It is true that a great many brave airmen and sailors have lost their lives over this patch of ocean – but, given the volume of traffic over this area – the losses, while tragic are no more extensive than would be expected. Planes go down all over the world and disappear without trace in far more mysterious circumstances than those found over the Triangle. If one hyper-focuses on the Triangle then yes, a great deal of intrigue and mystery can be combed from it – but any pilot’s mess room has seen its fair share of hair-raising and inexplicable tales told. Tellingly, no insurance company baulks at insuring planes to fly over the Triangle, indicating that they believe the risk to be no greater than flying over any other stretch of water. Those airmen who have lost their lives should undoubtedly be honoured and remembered, but today’s pilots should not have to live in fear of what is probably a relatively safe area of ocean for the careful flyer.

Another researcher, Mr. Reagan Musyoka has also collected further information on the Bermuda Triangle. Makes for fascinating reading.

Reagan contacted us in March 2016.

20 November 2016: Is this what's behind the Bermuda Triangle mystery?

A Science Channel report found hexagon-shaped 'air bombs' over the Bermuda Triangle. The report suggests 'air bombs' are capable of bringing down planes and ships.

August 2 2018

British oceanographers from the University of Southampton believe the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle has been solved. They’ve concluded that ships are being sucked into the ocean by rogue waves over 30 metres in height.

The Bermuda Triangle, also known as the Devil’s Triangle, is a stretch of water between the southernmost tip of Florida, Puerto Rico, and the island of Bermuda to the north. An article in The New York Times says that over the past 500 years, the Triangle has claimed at least 50 ships and 20 aircraft.

This latest theory was first suggested in 1995, when a freak wave of 18.5 metres was measured in the North Sea by satellites. The so-called Draupner Wave was the first time scientists had recorded such an extraordinary wave.

Rogue waves are abnormally large and unexpected waves in open sea. According to a study on Freak Waves, a standard-issue large wave of around 12 metres will have a breaking pressure of 8.5 psi. Modern ships are designed to tolerate a breaking wave of 21 psi, but a rogue wave can deliver a crushing 140 psi, grossly exceeding the limits of what ships are expected to tolerate.

Dr Simon Boxall, an Oceanographer from the University of Southampton who led the new study, explained on a Channel 5 documentary The Bermuda Triangle Enigma: 'there are storms to the South and North, which come together... we’ve measured waves in excess of 30 metres. The bigger the boat gets, the more damage is done.'

His team re-created the intense surges of the 30 metre waves by using indoor simulators. They built a model of the USS Cyclops, a carrier that went missing in the Bermuda Triangle in 1918 claiming the lives of 309 people.

'If you can imagine a rogue waves with peaks at either end, there’s nothing below the boat, so it snaps in two. If it happens, it can sink in two to three minutes,' explained Dr Simon Boxall.

Australian celebrity scientist Dr Karl Kruszelnicki noted that the Bermuda Triangle, which is one of the most heavily trafficked parts of any ocean, doesn't actually see a statistically unlikely rate of disappearances. 'According to Lloyds of London and the US Coast Guard, the number of planes that go missing in the Bermuda Triangle is the same as anywhere in the world on a percentage basis.'

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Emma Grover/KT June 2015/ SY 20 Nov 2016 SY 2 Aug 2018. SY 10 Dec 2018 added Lost Squadron photo

KTY 10-05-2023 Video updated

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