Bermuda Triangle

The Bermuda Triangle, also known as the Devil's Triangle, is a geographical area in the Atlantic Ocean approximately triangular in shape and is famous for its supposed paranormal activities. The Bermuda Triangle's three corners are roughly defined by Bermuda, Puerto Rico, and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, giving it an area of nearly half a million square miles (1.2 million km²).

Paranormal Claims:

* "A significant number of ships and aircraft have disappeared under highly unusual circumstances."

* "Paranormal activity where the known laws of physics are violated."

* It has even been suggested that "extraterrestrial beings are responsible for some of the disappearances."

The Triangle marks a corridor of the north Atlantic stretching northward from the West Indies along the North American seaboard as far as the Carolinas. To take advantage of prevailing winds, ships returning to Europe during the Age of Sail would sail north to the Carolinas before turning east to cross the north Atlantic. This pattern continued after the development of steam and internal combustion engines, meaning that much of the north Atlantic shipping traffic crossed (and still crosses) through the Triangle's area.

The Gulf Stream, an area of volatile weather, also passes through the Triangle as it leaves the West Indies. The combination of heavy maritime traffic and tempestuous weather made it inevitable that vessels would founder in storms and be lost without trace, especially before the telecommunications, radar and satellite technology of the late twentieth century. The occasional vessel still sinks, but rarely without a trace.

Other areas often purported to possess unusual characteristics are the Devil's Sea, located near Japan, and the Marysburgh Vortex (or "Great Lakes Triangle"), located in eastern Lake Ontario. However, the "Devil's Sea" is not particularly well known in Japan, due to the fact that most of the boats lost were small fishing boats with no radios.

Christopher Columbus made mention of sightings of strange-looking animals near the border of the triangle and recorded near the area and now designated as the Bermuda Triangle. At one point he reports that he and his crew observed "strange dancing lights on the horizon". On another instance they observed what was most likely a falling meteor. At another point he wrote in his log about bizarre compass bearings in the area.

The first documented mention of disappearances in the area was made in 1951 by E.V.W. Jones as a sidebar on the Associated Press wire service regarding recent ship losses. Jones' article noted the "mysterious disappearances" of ships, aircraft and small boats in the region and gave it the name "The Devil's Triangle". It was next mentioned in 1952 in a Fate Magazine article by George X. Sand, who outlined several "strange marine disappearances". In 1964, Vincent Geddis referred to the area as "The Deadly Bermuda Triangle" in an Argosy feature, after which the name "Bermuda Triangle" became most common.

The area achieved its current fame largely through the efforts of Charles Berlitz in his 1974 book The Bermuda Triangle and its subsequent film adaptation. The book recounts a long series of mysterious disappearances of ships and aircraft, in particular the December 1945 loss of five U.S. Navy Avenger torpedo bombers in the infamous Flight 19 incident.

The book was a bestseller and included several theories about the cause of the disappearances, including accidents due to high traffic volumes; natural storms; "temporal holes"; the lost empire of Atlantis; transportation by extraterrestrial technology; and other natural or supernatural causes.

The marine insurer Lloyd's of London has determined the "triangle" to be no more dangerous than any other area of ocean, and does not charge unusual rates for passage through the region. Coast Guard records confirm their conclusion. In fact, the number of supposed disappearances is relatively insignificant considering the number of ships and aircraft which pass through on a regular basis.

Skeptics comment that the disappearance of a train between two stops would be more convincing evidence of paranormal activity, and the fact that such things do not occur suggests that paranormal explanations are not needed for the disappearance of ships and aircraft in the far less predictable open ocean.

Kusche's research revealed a number of inaccuracies and inconsistencies between Berlitz's accounts and statements from eyewitnesses, participants and others involved in the initial incidents. He noted cases where pertinent information went unreported, such as the disappearance of round-the-world yachtsman Donald Crowhurst which Berlitz had presented as a mystery, despite clear evidence that Crowhurst had fabricated the accounts of his voyage and had probably committed suicide. Another example was the ore-carrier Berlitz recounted as lost without trace three days out of an Atlantic port when it had been lost three days out of a port with the same name in the Pacific Ocean. Kusche also argued that a large percentage of the incidents have sparked the Triangle's mysterious influence actually occurred well outside it.

Kusche came to several conclusions:

* The number of ships and aircraft reported missing in the area was not significantly greater, proportionally speaking, than any other part of the ocean.
* In an area frequented by tropical storms, the number of disappearances that did occur were, for the most part, neither disproportionate, unlikely, nor mysterious.
* The numbers themselves had been exaggerated by sloppy research. A boat listed as missing would be reported, but its eventual, if belated, return to port, may not be reported.
* The circumstances of confirmed disappearances were frequently misreported in Berlitz's accounts. The numbers of ships disappearing in supposedly calm weather, for instance, did not tally with weather reports published at the time.
* "The Legend of the Bermuda Triangle is a manufactured mystery... perpetuated by writers who either purposely or unknowingly made use of misconceptions, faulty reasoning, and sensationalism." (Epilogue, p. 277)

In recent years, however, several authors, most notably Gian J. Quasar, have raised several questions as to the veracity of Kusche's findings, including but not limited to: why Kusche so often brought up as evidence for his claims cases that were already well-known before the writing of his work as not being "Triangle incidents"; his misidentification and mislocation of several ship and aircraft incidents that are well-documented, but then using that inability to properly identify the craft as "proof" that they never existed; holding to his claims that 'nothing out of the ordinary' regularly occurred in and around the area, and yet several times admitting certain cases lacked conventional rational explanation (most notably in the Star Tiger and DC-3 cases), and in other examples openly claiming possibilities for foul weather for certain disappearances where it can be verified that none existed.

An explanation for some of the disappearances focuses on the presence of vast fields of methane hydrates on the continental shelves. A paper was published in 1981 by the United States Geological Survey about the appearance of hydrates in the Blake Ridge area, off the southeastern United States coast. Periodic methane eruptions may produce regions of frothy water that are no longer capable of providing adequate buoyancy for ships. If this were the case, such an area forming around a ship could cause it to sink very rapidly and without warning. Laboratory experiments have proven that bubbles can, indeed, sink a scale model ship by decreasing the density of the water.

One of the best known, and probably the most famous Bermuda Triangle incidents concerns the loss of Flight 19, a squadron of five U.S. Navy TBM Avenger torpedo bombers on a training flight out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida on December 5, 1945. According to Berlitz, the flight consisted of expert naval aviators who, after reporting a number of odd visual effects, simply disappeared, an account which isn't entirely true. Furthermore, Berlitz claims that because the TBM Avenger bombers were built to float for long periods, they should have been found the next day considering what were reported as calm seas and a clear sky. However, not only were they never found, a Navy search and rescue seaplane that went after them was also lost. Adding to the intrigue is that the Navy's report of the accident was ascribed to "causes or reasons unknown".

While the basic facts of Berlitz's version of the story are essentially accurate, some important details are missing. The image of a squadron of seasoned combat aviators disappearing on a sunny afternoon is inaccurate. By the time the last radio transmission was received from Flight 19, stormy weather had moved in. Only the Flight Leader, Lt. Charles Carroll Taylor, had combat experience and any significant flying time, but at the same time he had very little flight experience in that particular area, less than the trainees serving under him, and a history of getting lost in flight, having done so twice previously in the Pacific theater and being forced to ditch both planes. Lt. Taylor also has since been depicted as a cool, calm and confident leader. Instead, radio transmissions from Flight 19 revealed Taylor to be disoriented, lacking confidence in his decisions, and completely lost.

Flight 19 was, rather, a squadron of lost, inexperienced flight trainees forced to ditch their out-of-fuel aircraft into unknown stormy waters in the dark of night, and led by an officer with a history of getting lost. Also, exaggerated claims stated that all the planes were having compass problems, however later naval reports and written recordings of the conversations between Lt. Taylor and the other pilots of Flight 19 do not indicate this. As for the Navy's report, it is claimed that the original report blamed the accident on the flight commander's confusion. Lt. Taylor had previously abandoned his aircraft twice in the Pacific after getting lost, returning to his carrier. However the wording was changed in deference to the wishes of his family.

Another factor to consider is that the TBM Avenger Aircraft were never designed for crash-landing into water, contrary to Berlitz's claims. Wartime experience in the Pacific showed that an Avenger aircraft would sink very quickly if landed on the water. Especially with novice pilots at the helm, an Avenger would be very difficult to land on calm water, let alone the perilous rough seas in the Bermuda Triangle.

However, the fact that no wreckage has ever been discovered does lead way to a mystery, and in itself that is unusual. On a recent History Channel special documenting the event, it was noted that a pilot can easily mistake his location if he allows his imagination to get the best of him. The most likely scenario, by that documentary, is that Flight Leader Lt. Charles Taylor became confused and disoriented, and was indecisive in his ultimate analogy of the flights situation, incorrectly believing he was off the far to the south-west Florida Keys, and turned the flight hard to the right believing they would hit land. Instead, they were located exactly where they should have been, off the Bahamas, and turning right in fact took them deep out to sea in the Atlantic. This also could account for why the planes have yet to be found, since very few searches have concentrated on the vast open ocean areas.

Therefore, the most likely consensus among both naval and civilian enthusiasts who have thoroughly researched the incident do indicate that Lt. Charles Taylor became confused and disoriented, ultimately leading his flight out to sea where they ran out of gas and ditched in stormy night time waters. And, although his student-pilots believed he was mistaken as to their location, he was the Flight Leader, and he was in command. By the time he took one of the trainee pilots advice to fly west, they were too far out to ever make landfall. The official US Navy stance on the incident does not reflect any mystery whatsoever as to what happened to Flight 19, residing to the fact that the blame lies completely with Lt. Charles Taylor. The only mystery to the US Navy is where did the planes of Flight 19 ditch.

Another theory in that same documentary stated that the planes may have actually been where Taylor believed they were, and that they crashed in the Georgia swamplands. However that theory has mostly been greeted with skepticism.

A PBM Mariner rescue aircraft also disappeared without a trace during the search for Flight 19, as Berlitz stated in his book. This added to speculation of supernatural involvement and the Bermuda Triangle, and although Berlitz alluded to the incident in his book about the Bermuda Triangle, it is worded in a way that points to it also being mysterious and unknown, when in fact it was not. The SS Gaines Mill reported an over-water explosion shortly after the PBM Mariner took off, in the location where it should have been. An oil slick was spotted at that location, but bad weather prevented any debris recovery, and by the time the stormy weather had passed, all signs of any debris were gone. The most likely scenario is that a fuel leak caused an explosion which disintegrated the aircraft.

Another well-known loss is that of two four-engine Tudor IV airliners named Star Tiger and Star Ariel. The two aircraft, operated by the airline British South American Airways Corporation, routinely flew the route from South America to Bermuda.

The incident occured in the predawn hours of January 31st, 1948. Carrying twenty-nine passengers and crew on board and piloted by Captain B. W. McMillan, the airliner Star Tiger had left hours earlier from Santa Maria, Azores, one of the numerous scheduled fuel stopover points on its route from London, England to Havana, Cuba. While approaching Bermuda, McMillan made the expected contact with Kindley Field, the next stopover, requesting a radio bearing to calibrate his navigation systems and ensure he remained on course. With the response indicating that the plane was slightly off course, its position was corrected after Bermuda relayed a first-class bearing of 72 degrees from the island. At this point, with Star Tiger less than two hours flight away, McMillan gave confirmation of an ETA of 05:00 hours, an hour late due to strong headwinds. No further transmission from the aircraft was ever received.

Armed with precise reports of the plane's last known position, rescue operations were launched after the craft was determined overdue for arrival and no trace was ever found.

In the report issued soon thereafter by the Civil Air Ministry, numerous hypotheses as to what might have occurred during the flight's final two hours are given, before each being subsequently rejected:

"There would accordingly be no grounds for supposing that Star Tiger fell into the sea in consequence of having been deprived of her radio, having failed to find her destination, and having exhausted her fuel."

"There is good reason to suppose that no distress message was transmitted from the aircraft, for there were many radio receiving stations listening on the aircraft's frequencies, and none reported such a message."

"...The weather was stable, there were no atmospheric disturbances of a serious kind which might cause structural damage to the aircraft, and there were no electrical storms."

It was ruled that the aircraft could not have gone off course, as the broadcast bearing from Bermuda, with winds prevailing, would have brought it within thirty miles of the island: "The aircraft could hardly have failed to find the island in a short time, in the conditions of visibility which prevailed." Engine difficulty was ruled out as a likely cause, since at such late stage in the flight, without the added weight of extra fuel aboard, the aircraft might have been flown safely on three, or even two engines, instead of the four it had. The probability of the aircraft entirely losing three engines in the course of under two hours was considered absurd.

Faced with the accumulation of evidence, or perhaps lack thereof, the board of investigation addressed the loss of the Star Tiger with remarked eloquence:

"In closing this report it may truly be said that no more baffling problem has ever been presented for investigation. In the complete absence of any reliable evidence as to either the nature or the cause of the accident of Star Tiger the Court has not been able to do more than suggest possibilities, none of which reaches the level even of probability. Into all activities which involve the co-operation of man and machine two elements enter of a very diverse character. There is an incalculable element of the human equation dependent upon imperfectly known factors; and there is the mechanical element subject to quite different laws. A breakdown may occur in either separately or in both in conjunction. Or some external cause may overwhelm both man and machine. What happened in this case will never be known and the fate of Star Tiger must remain an unsolved mystery."

On January 17th, 1949, the Star Ariel also went missing in the area near Bermuda, without a trace, with 17 passengers and crew. Her last transmissions showed no signs of distress, and dictated a normal flight. The second disappearance prompted the discontinued use of the Tudor IV aircraft. What actually happened to both planes is unknown to this day.

Another well-known loss is that of the DC-3 airliner NC16002 while en route from San Juan, Puerto Rico to Miami, Florida. Several of the facts in this case, including the inability of radio towers closer to the flight to hear its transmissions but others further away picking it up clearly, bear resemblance to several others reported throughout the "Triangle's" history.

While it is true that the Mary Celeste (earlier the Amazon) is a famous incident involving an abandoned ship, it is a common misconception that the Triangle was involved, a misconception made more wide-spread due to several inaccuracies by author Larry Kusche in his 1975 work The Bermuda Triangle Mystery—Solved. The Mary Celeste, which never went near the Bermuda Triangle, was instead found abandoned off the coast of Portugal. However, the disappearance of the ship without any trace of her crew remains a mystery to this day.

The Cyclops (AC-4) was a US Navy vessel, commanded by Lieutenant Commander G. W. Worley, that went missing without a trace with a crew of 306 on March 4th, 1918, after departing Barbados. Some feel that the ship went missing due to the Bermuda Triangle, although it's worth noting that the United States was at war during that time and there are several possibilities for the disappearance. Supporters of the Bermuda Triangle theories have brought to the front the fact that there was no transmission from the ship that there was trouble, and that it seems to have simply disappeared. It must be kept in mind, however, that at the time, communications were at their fledgling phase, and sending urgent calls for help was not always a simple or quickly accomplished task. Many serious investigators of the incident believe that the USS Cyclops was farther north of the Triangle, however, when it went missing, closer to Norfolk, Virginia.

Captain Joshua Slocum's skill as a mariner was beyond argument — he was the first man to sail around the world solo. In 1909, in his boat Spray he set out in a course to take him through the Bermuda Triangle. He disappeared; there was no evidence he was even in the Bermuda Triangle when Spray was lost with Slocum. It was assumed he was run down by a steamer or struck by a whale, the Spray being too sound a craft and Slocum too experienced a mariner for any other cause to be considered likely, and in 1924 he was declared legally dead. While a mystery, there is no known evidence for, or against, paranormal activity.

Although there have been an enormous number of both planes and ships that have disappeared in the area designated The Bermuda Triangle, the number is not far off the number reported missing in other sea areas of comparative size, and the area is prone to powerful tropical storms and hurricanes. There are no official military maps designating the triangle, and the US Coast Guard has determined that in most cases the combined forces of nature, accidents, and the unpredictable nature of man can be indicated as the reason for the disappearances. However, the document, the Aeromagnetic Charts of the U.S. Coastal Region, do cover the Bermuda Triangle, in numbers 9 through 15. The US Coast Guard also recognizes that there will always be some cases that are unexplainable, but that number is small.

The Bermuda Triangle receives credit for many unexplained disappearances that occurred in her unofficial waters. To date, most agree that in excess of 170 ships and planes have gone missing without a trace in that particular area of the Atlantic Ocean. Although most of these disappearances can be explained, many others cannot be, and the topic continues to be a hot debate between both pro and con Bermuda Triangle enthusiasts. The most popular incidents are listed below;

* 1815: SS ExpervierHGHV
* 1840: HMS Rosalie
* 1872: The Mary Celeste
* 1909: The Spray
* 1917: SS Timandra
* 1918: USS Cyclops (AC-4) disappears
* 1921: Cargo ship Carroll Deering found adrift, the crew having disappeared without a trace
* 1925: SS Cotopaxi
* 1926: SS Suduffco
* 1938: HMS Anglo Australian
* 1942: French submarine Surcouf
* 1945: The disappearance of 5 Navy Avengers - Flight 19
* 1947: Army C-45 Superfort vanishes 100 miles off Bermuda
* 1948: SS Samkey
* 1948: Four-engined Tudor IV Star Tiger, lost with 31 lives
* 1948: DC-3 NC16002 lost with 28 passengers and crew - NC16002 Disappearance
* 1949: Second Tudor IV, Star Ariel, vanishes without a trace
* 1950: Giant US Air Force Globemaster lost
* 1950: American freighter, SS Sandra (350 ft), sinks without a trace
* 1952: British York transport plane lost with 33 aboard
* 1954: US Navy Lockheed Constellation vanishes with 42 aboard
* 1956: US Navy seaplane, Martin P5M, disappears with crew of ten
* 1962: US Air Force KB-50 tanker plane lost
* 1963: Marine Sulpher Queen vanishes without a trace
* 1967: Military YC-122, converted to cargo plane, lost
* 1970: French freighter Milton Latrides disappears
* 1972: German freighter Anita (20,000 tons), lost with crew of 32
* 1976: SS Sylvia L. Ossa
* 1978: SS Hawarden Bridge
* 1980: SS Poet
* 1995: Inter-island freighter Jamanic K
* 1997: Passengers disappear from German yacht
* 1999: Freighter Genesis

It must be noted that some of the cases listed above, which are popularly associated with the Bermuda Triangle, were actually not even in or known to be in the triangle at the time of their disappearance or incident.

In Alaska there is an area from which also several cases of mysterious disappearance are reported.Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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