Many Bermuda Triangle Web sites include long lists of missing ships and planes. But many of those were nowhere near the Triangle when they disappeared or they turned up later with rational explanations for their disappearances. For example, the Mary Celeste, found floating in 1872 with not a person on board and everything exactly as they had left it, is on nearly every list of losses blamed on the Bermuda Triangle. But in reality, it was many hundreds of miles from the Triangle at the time.
Here is a sampling of the some of the most notable incidents. As you’ll see, some of these have reasonable explanations although they’re still attributed to the strange and unknown powers of the Bermuda Triangle.
The U.S.S. Cyclops, 1918During World War I, the U.S.S. Cyclops served along the eastern coast of the United States until January 9, 1918. At that time, she was assigned to the Naval Overseas Transportation Service. The Cyclops was scheduled to sail to Brazil to refuel British ships in the south Atlantic. She set out from Rio de Janeiro on February 16, and, after a brief stop in Barbados from March 3 to 4, was never seen or heard from again. All 306 passengers and crew were gone without a trace.
Image courtesy U.S. Naval Historical Center
U.S. Navy Avengers Flight 19, 1945The most famous Bermuda Triangle story is the mystery surrounding five missing Navy Avengers in 1945. The story of Flight 19 is usually summarized this way: a routine patrol set out on a sunny day with five highly experienced student pilots. Suddenly, the tower began receiving transmissions from the flight leader that they were lost, compasses were not working, and “everything looked wrong.” They were never seen again, and extensive Navy investigations turned up no clues to explain the disappearance.
Lieutenant Charles C. Taylor led the mission, which included several planned course changes. They departed at 1:15 p.m. on December 5, 1945. At 3:00 p.m., Lieutenant Robert F. Cox was flying over Fort Lauderdale, Florida when he heard a signal that he thought was from a boat or plane in distress. He called Operations at the Naval Air Station to report what he had heard. Cox told Taylor to fly with the sun at his left wing and up the coast until he hit Miami. Taylor then said that they were over a small island with no other land in sight. If he was over the Keys as he had said, however, he should have seen several islands as well as the Florida peninsula.
With less than two hours’ flying time until they ran out of fuel, Taylor described a large island to Operations. Assuming this was Andros Island, the largest in the Bahamas, Operations sent Taylor a heading that would take him to Fort Lauderdale. Apparently this heading was correct, because once Flight 19 assumed the new course, Taylor’s voice began coming in stronger over the radio. Taylor, however, didn’t believe this course was right and after a few minutes said that they “didn’t go far enough east. Turn around again and go east. We should have a better chance of being picked up closer to shore.” With this move, transmissions began to weaken as they flew out of radio range in the wrong direction. For unknown reasons, Taylor ignored the standard flying procedure of flying west if over water and east if over land.
Two PBM-5 Mariner seaplanes went out to search the area, but one exploded soon after takeoff. The other never located Flight 19.