The Bermuda Triangle

Mystery, Myth or “Mythery”?

The Bermuda Triangle – a notorious area of the Atlantic Ocean.

Since the early 1960’s a triangular area of the Atlantic Ocean has been the source of many strange tails and anecdotes which, on occasion, have involved UFOs and apparent abductions. This area lies between the 20th and 40th parallels the three points of the triangle have come to be accepted as the east coast of Florida, Puerto Rico and of course Bermuda. This notorious area of the ocean has been given a number of names, The Devil’s Triangle, The Graveyard of the Atlantic etc…, but it is almost always referred to as “The Bermuda Triangle”.
Historically this part of the Atlantic had the reputation for being a danger zone for shipping as quite often there is little wind and ships could easily be becalmed for long periods often resulting in the loss of life due to the lack of drinking water and supplies. Nearer to the east coast of the U.S. the weather can be extremely violent, involving the threat of hurricanes and storms, causing many ships to flounder and sink. Superstitious sailors regarded the area which came to be known as “The Bermuda Triangle” with fear.

On average 60 ships and boats and 5 aircraft are lost in the area each year. Oddly very wrecks are ever located.

In the early 1950’s, as interest in UFOs grew, a number of articles, books etc… referred to an event which occurred in 1945 and involved the loss of five military aircraft and their crew. These articles suggested that the aircraft and crew were possibly abducted by UFOs. These five aircraft were known as “Flight 19”.

Flight 19

On the 5th December, 1945, five Avenger torpedo bombers flew out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on a routine training flight, the crew of these five aircraft were:

FT.  Lt. C.C. Taylor, USNR

G.F. Devlin, AOM3c, USNR

W.R. Parpart, ARM3c, USNR

FT.  Capt. E.J. Powers, USMC

H.Q. Thompson, Sgt., USMCR

G.R. Paonessa, Sgt., USMC

FT.  Capt. G.W. Stivers, USMC

R.P. Gruebel, Pvt., USMCR

R.F. Gullivan, Sgt., USMC

FT.  2nd Lt. F.J. Gerber, USMCR

W.E. Lightfoot, Pfc., USMCR

FT. Ens. J.T. Bossi, USNR

A.H. Thelander, S1c, USNR

B.E. Baluk, JR., S1c, USNR

This training flight involved the pilots keeping to a predefined route known as “Navigation Problem 1” which involved keeping to the following flight pattern:

Depart Fort Lauderdale 27 degrees 03 minutes north and 80 degrees 07 minutes west. Fly 091 degrees (east)for 56 miles to Hens and Chicken Shoals, 22 miles north of Bimini in the Bahamas for low-level bombing practice. After bombing, continue 091 degrees for 67 miles.

Fly 346 degrees (northwest) for 73 miles.

Fly 241 degrees (southwest) 120 miles back to Fort Lauderdale.

Flight 19 took off at 2-10p.m. and after flying to Hens and Chicken Shoals they practiced dropping bombs and activities such as low level passes.

They then flew on at 3-00p.m. on the second section of their mission and were observed by the captain of a fishing boat flying east. However, at 3-45p.m. Flight Instructor, Lt. Robert Cox, picked up a transmission on 4805 kilocycles, the voice was asking someone named Powers what his compass showed and saying: “I don’t know where we are. We must have got lost after that last turn”

The speaker was probably Lt. Taylor and it would seem that either his compass had failed or that he had become disoriented and did not believe his and Powers’ compass readings.

Flt.Lt. Taylor – was he guilty of an enormous error or did his instruments really malfunction?

Lt. Cox radioed Ft. Lauderdale and alerted them that a ship or plane was in trouble and then tried to contact the speaker on 4805 kilocycles. This he could not achieve for several minutes as there was a lot of static on that frequency, plus interference from a Cuban radio station. Ultimately, at about 4:21, he received a response:

“This is FT-28. Both my compasses are out and I’m trying to find Fort Lauderdale. I’m over land but it’s broken. I’m sure I’m in the Keys, but I don’t know how far down………”

The extent of Taylor’s disorientation now becomes evident as not only does he believe they are off-course but that they are many miles to the southwest, over the Florida Keys. Cox was unaware of their flight plan and has no reason to question Taylor’s opinion that they are over the Keys. It is, however, highly likely that “the “broken land” that Taylor refers to is probably the Bahamas. Had the  Flight been over the Keys, they would have been able to see the Florida mainland.

Cox told Taylor: “Put the sun on your port wing if you’re in the Keys and fly up the coast until you get to Miami. Then Fort Lauderdale is 20 miles farther…what is your position? I’ll fly south and meet you. “

Taylor replied: “I know where I am now. I’m at 2300 feet. Don’t come after me.”

At 4-25P.M., Taylor radioed again: “We have just passed over a small island. We have no other land in sight. Can you have Miami or someone turn on their radar and pick us up? We don’t seem to be getting far. We were out on a navigation hop, and on the second leg I thought they were going wrong. I took over and was flying them back to the right position. But I’m sure now that neither one of my compasses is working.”

Cox had turned and flown south assuming that’s where Flight 19 was but as he got south of Miami, the transmissions from Flight 19 got weaker. To make matters worse, Cox’s transmitter began to malfunction, and he could not transmit to Taylor. Taylor was under the impression that they were south of Florida and continued to fly northwards but the weather worsened and whitecaps were visible on the ocean below.

At 4-45P.M. Port Everglades station instructed Taylor to switch to 3000 kilocycles and to fly due west. They were trying to get a fix on Flight 19, which was difficult because of the interference on 4805 kilocycles.

At 5-00p.m. the following transmission was heard: “If we would just fly west, we would get home. And Dammit, if we would just fly west, we would get home.”

At 5-07p.m. Taylor to Flight 19: “Change course to 90 degrees for 10 minutes. “

At 5-09p.m. unidentified: “How long have we gone now? Let’s turn and fly east two degrees. We are going too damn far north instead of east. If there is anything we wouldn’t have seen it.”

At 5-11p.m., unidentified: “You didn’t get far enough east. How long have we been going east? “

At 5-15p.m. Taylor to Port Everglades: “I receive you very weak. We are now flying 270 degrees. “

At 5-16p.m. Taylor to Port Everglades: “We will fly 270 degrees until we hit the beach or run out of gas. “

Unfortunately by this time they had flown too far east and they didn’t have enough fuel to make it back to the mainland.

At 5-22p.m. Taylor: “When the first man gets down to ten gallons of gas, we will all land in the water together.

Does everyone understand that? “

Port Everglades asked Taylor to change his radio to 3000 kilocycles but he refused, believing that if he changed frequency that he would not be able to talk to the other planes in Flight 19:“I cannot change frequency. I must keep my planes intact.”

Finally, at 6:00, Port Everglades was obtained a fix on Flight 19. They were north of the Bahamas and East of New Smyrna, Florida – they were halfway up the East Coast of Florida! If Flight 19 had been aware of their position then possibly that Taylor would have abandoned his idea that they must fly east and they could have still made the mainland to the west before they ran out of fuel. However, the teletypes were not working and no transmission of that fix was made to other stations. No one gave the fix to Taylor because no station was in direct contact with him at that time.

At 6-15p.m. unidentified: “We are over the Gulf. We didn’t go far enough east… I suggest we fly due east until we run out of gas. We have a better chance of being picked up close to shore…”

The last transmission from Flight 19 was at 6:44. Still on 4805 kilocycles, FT-3’s call signal was heard. The Navy Board of Investigation report stated that Flight 19’s fuel should have kept them airborne until approximately 8:00.

Taylor claimed that his compass was malfunctioning but did it? Perhaps he simply refused to believe it.

Whatever, Taylor had the late afternoon sun to tell him which way to fly but he insisted on believing that they were in the Gulf of Mexico and that they had to fly east to reach the mainland. Evidently he was extremely disoriented and not thinking clearly. Later investigation showed that they were actually right on course when he first claimed that they were lost. If his disorientation was the beginning of the problem, then his refusal to change radio frequencies caused the loss of the flight. If he had switched to the emergency channel the first time he was asked, a fix could have been obtained much sooner and he could have been convinced to fly due west with plenty of fuel remaining to reach safety.

Many believe that due to his malfunctioning compass Taylor believed that a chain of islands that he flew over were The Florida Keys, in fact they were probably a chain of islands to the north.

Strangely a flying boat that was part of the search and rescue mission disappeared on the very same day.

Astonishingly a flying boat was mysteriously lost during search and rescue operations.

Neither the wreckage of any of the aircraft of Flight 19 nor of the flying boat was ever found.

The initial investigation into the loss of Flight 19 blamed Taylor but a later report declared the aircraft were lost by unknown circumstances.

The mystery of Flight 19 has never been resolved. There have been many theories as to why five aircraft and their crew could be lost including abduction by UFOs. Every December 5th a memorial service is held at Fort Lauderdale and a strange rumour has evolved. This rumour maintains that FlL. Taylor survived by crash landing his aircraft in the sea and being picked up by some Bahamians. He sought anonymity as he was fearful of being Court Martialled if he returned to the mainland (which he almost certainly would have been). The story goes that Taylor eventually married a Bahamian woman and has attended the memorial service at Fort Lauderdale!