The Bermuda Triangle, also known as the Devil's Triangle, is a loosely defined region in the western part of the North Atlantic Ocean where a number of aircraft and ships are said to have disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Most reputable sources dismiss the idea that there is any mystery.
The vicinity of the Bermuda Triangle is amongst the most heavily traveled shipping lanes in the world, with ships frequently crossing through it for ports in the Americas, Europe and the Caribbean islands. Cruise ships and pleasure craft regularly sail through the region, and commercial and private aircraft routinely fly over it.
Popular culture has attributed various disappearances to the paranormal or activity by extraterrestrial beings. Documented evidence indicates that a significant percentage of the incidents were spurious, inaccurately reported, or embellished by later authors.
The earliest suggestion of unusual disappearances in the Bermuda area appeared in a September 17, 1950, article published in The Miami Herald (Associated Press) by Edward Van Winkle Jones. Two years later, Fate magazine published "Sea Mystery at Our Back Door", a short article by George Sand covering the loss of several planes and ships, including the loss of Flight 19, a group of five US Navy Grumman TBM Avenger torpedo bombers on a training mission. Sand's article was the first to lay out the now-familiar triangular area where the losses took place, as well as the first to suggest a supernatural element to the Flight 19 incident. Flight 19 alone would be covered again in the April 1962 issue of American Legion magazine. In it, author Allan W. Eckert wrote that the flight leader had been heard saying, "We are entering white water, nothing seems right. ]
In February 1964, Vincent Gaddis wrote an article called "The Deadly Bermuda Triangle" in the pulp magazine Argosy saying Flight 19 and other disappearances were part of a pattern of strange events in the region. T
The Gaddis Argosy article delineated the boundaries of the triangle, giving its vertices as Miami; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Bermuda. Subsequent writers did not necessarily follow this definition. Some writers gave different boundaries and vertices to the triangle, with the total area varying from 1,300,000 to 3,900,000 km2 (500,000 to 1,510,000 sq mi). "Indeed, some writers even stretch it as far as the Irish coast." Consequently, the determination of which accidents occurred inside the triangle depends on which writer reported them.
When the UK Channel 4 television program The Bermuda Triangle (1992) was being produced by John Simmons of Geofilms for the Equinox series, the marine insurance market Lloyd's of London was asked if an unusually large number of ships had sunk in the Bermuda Triangle area. Lloyd's determined that large numbers of ships had not sunk there. Lloyd's does not charge higher rates for passing through this area. United States Coast Guard records confirm their conclusion. In fact, the number of supposed disappearances is relatively insignificant considering the number of ships and aircraft that pass through on a regular basis.
The Coast Guard is also officially skeptical of the Triangle, noting that they collect and publish, through their inquiries, much documentation contradicting many of the incidents written about by the Triangle authors. In one such incident involving the 1972 explosion and sinking of the tanker V. A. Fogg, the Coast Guard photographed the wreck and recovered several bodies, in contrast with one Triangle author's claim that all the bodies had vanished, with the exception of the captain, who was found sitting in his cabin at his desk, clutching a coffee cup. In addition, V. A. Fogg sank off the coast of Texas, nowhere near the commonly accepted boundaries of the Triangle.
The Nova/Horizon episode The Case of the Bermuda Triangle, aired on June 27, 1976, was highly critical, stating that "When we've gone back to the original sources or the people involved, the mystery evaporates. Science does not have to answer questions about the Triangle because those questions are not valid in the first place ... Ships and planes behave in the Triangle the same way they behave everywhere else in the world."
Skeptical researchers, such as Ernest Taves and Barry Singer, have noted how mysteries and the paranormal are very popular and profitable. This has led to the production of vast amounts of material on topics such as the Bermuda Triangle. They were able to show that some of the pro-paranormal material is often misleading or inaccurate, but its producers continue to market it. Accordingly, they have claimed that the market is biased in favor of books, TV specials, and other media that support the Triangle mystery, and against well-researched material if it espouses a skeptical viewpoint.
Benjamin Radford, an author and scientific paranormal investigator, noted in an interview on the Bermuda Triangle that it could be very difficult locating an aircraft lost at sea due to the vast search area, and although the disappearance might be mysterious, that did not make it paranormal or unexplainable. Radford further noted the importance of double-checking information as the mystery surrounding the Bermuda Triangle had been created by people who had neglected to do so.
Triangle writers have used a number of supernatural concepts to explain the events. One explanation pins the blame on leftover technology from the mythical lost continent of Atlantis. Sometimes connected to the Atlantis story is the submerged rock formation known as the Bimini Road off the island of Bimini in the Bahamas, which is in the Triangle by some definitions. Followers of the purported psychic Edgar Cayce take his prediction that evidence of Atlantis would be found in 1968, as referring to the discovery of the Bimini Road. Believers describe the formation as a road, wall, or other structure, but the Bimini Road is of natural origin.
Compass problems are one of the cited phrases in many Triangle incidents. While some have theorized that unusual local magnetic anomalies may exist in the area, such anomalies have not been found. Compasses have natural magnetic variations in relation to the magnetic poles, a fact which navigators have known for centuries. Magnetic (compass) north and geographic (true) north are exactly the same only for a small number of places – for example, as of 2000, in the United States, only those places on a line running from Wisconsin to the Gulf of Mexico. But the public may not be as informed, and think there is something mysterious about a compass "changing" across an area as large as the Triangle, which it naturally will.
Hurricanes are powerful storms that form in tropical waters and have historically cost thousands of lives and caused billions of dollars in damage. The sinking of Francisco de Bobadilla's Spanish fleet in 1502 was the first recorded instance of a destructive hurricane. These storms have in the past caused a number of incidents related to the Triangle.
Carroll A. Deering
Main article: Carroll A. Deering
Schooner Carroll A. Deering, as seen from the Cape Lookout lightvessel on January 29, 1921, two days before she was found deserted in North Carolina. (US Coast Guard)
A five-masted schooner built in 1919, Carroll A. Deering was found hard aground and abandoned at Diamond Shoals, near Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, on January 31, 1921. Rumors and more at the time indicated Deering was a victim of piracy, possibly connected with the illegal rum-running trade during Prohibition, and possibly involving another ship, Hewitt, which disappeared at roughly the same time. Just hours later, an unknown steamer sailed near the lightship along the track of Deering, and ignored all signals from the lightship. It is speculated that Hewitt may have been this mystery ship, and possibly involved in Deering's crew disappearance.
Main article: Flight 19
US Navy Avengers, similar to those of Flight 19
Flight 19 was a training flight of five TBM Avenger torpedo bombers that disappeared on December 5, 1945, while over the Atlantic. The squadron's flight plan was scheduled to take them due east from Fort Lauderdale for 141 mi (227 km), north for 73 mi (117 km), and then back over a final 140-mile (230-kilometre) leg to complete the exercise. The flight never returned to base. The disappearance was attributed by Navy investigators to navigational error leading to the aircraft running out of fuel.
One of the search and rescue aircraft deployed to look for them, a PBM Mariner with a 13-man crew, also disappeared. A tanker off the coast of Florida reported seeing an explosion and observing a widespread oil slick when fruitlessly searching for survivors. The weather was becoming stormy by the end of the incident. According to contemporaneous sources the Mariner had a history of explosions due to vapour leaks when heavily loaded with fuel, as it might have been for a potentially long search-and-rescue operation.
Star Tiger and Star Ariel
Main articles: BSAA Star Tiger disappearance and BSAA Star Ariel disappearance
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. Both were Avro Tudor IV passenger aircraft operated by British South American Airways. Both planes were operating at the very limits of their range and the slightest error or fault in the equipment could keep them from reaching the small island.[
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