For some, the Bermuda Triangle is simply a myth, while for others it is a mysterious ship and airplane graveyard in the North Atlantic Ocean, off the eastern coast of North America.
After several supposedly unexplained disappearances there, Lloyds Shipping Insurers of London was asked to investigate; after an exhaustive inquiry, they reported that losses in this area were no higher than in other ocean sectors. So is it true that the Bermuda Triangle is really dangerous to ships and aircraft, or is this just a figment of someone’s very active imagination?
On 8 October 1492, the intrepid navigator Christopher Columbus was on his first voyage to the Americas. While sailing in the North Atlantic, in what is now known as the Bermuda Triangle, he noted that his compass was behaving strangely and giving inexplicable readings. He worried that telling his crew of the problem would create a panic, so he kept the anomaly a secret. When, three days later, a peculiar glow (which could have been a meteor) appeared on the sea, the crew threatened to mutiny and return to their home port in Spain. It was just as well Columbus had not divulged the compass reading to his crew, for perhaps the discovery of the New World would then have been delayed for some years!
Perhaps the best-documented disaster attributed to the Bermuda Triangle is the loss of Flight 19 out of Fort Lauderdale in Florida. Flight 19 was crewed by 14 young Navy pilots, just returned from active service after the Second World War. Flying five Grumman TBM Avenger torpedo bombers and led by Lt. Taylor, they left on a routine training mission. Taylor took them from Fort Lauderdale towards the Northern Bahamas to drop their bombs in the shallow water of Hen and Chickens Shoal. Late in the afternoon, a crew member radioed asking for a compass reading and was astounded to hear his fellow pilot say that he did not know where they were and that they must have gotten lost after they made a turn.
Lt. Taylor also found that both his compasses were malfunctioning as he was trying to find their home base. Out his window, he could see islands that he felt sure were the Florida Keys, but he had no idea where in the Keys they were at the time. Another pilot felt that they should fly west, as that would eventually bring them over land. By just after 6:00 pm, Lt. Taylor insisted that the flight bunch up; when one plane was ready to ditch, they would all go down together. Air traffic control at Fort Lauderdale was trying desperately to radio Lt. Taylor, but none of these messages seemed to get through. When they were able to triangulate the position of the flight, they were horrified to see that it was way off course and north of the Bahamas. No sign of the men or their aircraft was ever found.
Shortly after Flight 19 went dark, a PBM Mariner with 13 crew on board was sent to search for the Avengers.
At 7:30 pm the captain of the Mariner made a routine call that was the last ever heard of the plane. The rescue plane also vanished and was never seen again.
The loss of these planes on the same day was cause for concern, and then over the next few years, three more planes and a yacht went missing as well. The Connemara IV was found adrift with no crew aboard in 1955. A couple of years later, two US Air Force Stratotankers also vanished.