The waters of the Bermuda Triangle are infamous and mysterious. They’re deceptively beautiful, surrounding the sunny shores of Miami, Bermuda, and Puerto Rico. But don’t let the comfort of those pristine paradises fool you. The Bermuda Triangle is an unreliable, menacing section of the Atlantic that has taken the lives of thousands of people.
Tragedies on the open sea are common and are usually caused by thunderstorms, hurricanes, and other natural causes. But the mysterious events that have happened in this notorious area seem to bend the very laws of nature. Bizarre disappearances that lack any trace of debris have caused a whirlwind of dizzying conspiracy theories.
So what’s really going on in this mythical stretch of water? Let’s dive into it.
The Bermuda Triangle a loosely defined region in the Atlantic Ocean that’s bordered by sunny paradises – Bermuda, Puerto Rico and the Florida Keys. The Bahamas also fall within the notorious territory. It’s important to note that the triangle isn’t a universally agreed upon area, meaning that you won’t see it on a world map.
The triangle is anywhere between 500,000 to 1.5 million square miles of open ocean (depending on who you ask) and has been targeted as a mysterious area that apparently swallows aircraft and vessels without leaving any trace of them behind.
Speculations began in the early ‘50s, when articles about unusual disappearances and sea mysteries appeared for the first time across different magazines. But it wasn’t until 1964 that the name “Bermuda Triangle” was officially coined. However, mythical stories surrounding the area go way back.
Legends of ghost ships and vanishing sailors date back to the 19TH century. And if you want to look further than that, new world explorers from the 1500s used to call Bermuda “The Isle of Devils,” thanks to the stormy weather and frightening noises that emanated from the trees.
Arguably the most mysterious case to happen in the Devil’s Triangle is the disappearance of five navy aircraft in one hit. It was a training mission that took a terribly bizarre turn and became the most perplexing case to date.
On December 5, 1945, five avenger bombers stood in line at the naval station in Fort Lauderdale, ready for a routine training flight over the Atlantic. The sky was bright blue, practically cloudless, and perfect for flying.
The five planes took off at 2:10 p.m. and reached their first station about half an hour later when they spent 20 minutes dropping practice bombs. But as they flew across to their next section on the route, leader flight lieutenant Charles Taylor got into some trouble.
Suddenly, none of Taylor’s compasses seemed to work anymore. He reported his distress to the other men: “What does your compass read? I’m lost. I’m over small islands.” After hours of futile maneuvering in the air wasting precious fuel, Taylor commanded his soldiers to ditch the plane.
The navy procedure goes as follows – if one plane gets lost and has to ditch into the water, everybody joins in the same area to make it easier for the search and rescue team to find them. That’s probably why at 7:40 p.m., the radios fell completely silent all at once. With empty tanks, all 14 men must have dropped into the ocean together
For days, over 200 planes scanned the area for the missing soldiers. “We expected to see them floating out there. The TPM was a good, steady airplane. You could land it in the water, pull out the three men life raft without even getting your feet wet,” pilot David White explained.
The extensive search brought nothing but dreadful news – the men were nowhere to be found. When former navy photographer John Evans heard about the accident, he shrugged in bewilderment and said:
“I had made the same flight like Flight 19 and it was nothing. It was a very cinchy flight. How can you get lost?” Was Taylor struck by vertigo? Could be. But even if he was, why would 13 of his soldiers follow him into treacherous waters?
No less important to this weird case is the fact that all 13 men followed Taylor’s lead and vanished with him. It’s true that soldiers tend to follow their leader, but in an extreme case like this, this doesn’t necessarily apply anymore.
If Taylor really was dizzy out of his mind, maneuvering around aimlessly for hours, why would his soldiers agree to go along with him? Were their compasses down too? All five of them? Investigators had no clue.
After a lot of shrugging, sighing, and questioning, they concluded: “The flight leader became so confused as to have suffered something akin to a mental aberration.” A later report changed the cause of the disappearance to “unknown.”
Unknown is a slippery term to use. It automatically throws us into a mystifying frenzy, and we start to come up with radical explanations like UFOs, alien abduction, and time warps. This isn’t to say those things don’t exist, yeah? But we shouldn’t take “unknown” to be proof of anything.
Apart from extraterrestrial theories, other bizarre rumors began to circulate about Flight 19. The most entertaining one was that Taylor was alive and well, maybe even sipping pina coladas in the Bahamas. People believed he crashed in the ocean and was saved by locals from the Bahamas.
They assumed he was too terrified to come back to the U.S. and take responsibility for his dead troops, so he preferred to stay on the island and build a new life there. It sounds a bit far-fetched, but humans get pretty creative when the cause of someone’s disappearance is deemed unknown.
There’s one story that seems to defy every rational explanation. It’s a tale that bends the very laws of nature and leaves you scratching your head. It happened to a man named Bruce Gurnon, a property developer who had been flying to and from the Bahamas for over 30 years.
Gurnon’s weirdest flight was, hands down, the one he made with his father on the 4th of December, 1970. With blue, clear skies up above, father and son left Andro’s town aiport at 3.p.m and headed towards Palm Beach, Florida. But something terribly unusual happened.
The first strange thing Bruce Gernon noticed was a huge lenticular cloud flashing rapidly at a random pace. Suddenly, the cloud changed into a huge u-shape opening, and as Gernon approached it, the top of the opening closed, and it became a horizontal tunnel.
Gernon found himself flying in a bizarre, gloomy tunnel with misty lines rotating counterclockwise. If this seems like something out of Alice in Wonderland, it’s because it is. According to Gernon, it was terribly difficult to focus inside this foggy spectacle.
Engulfed in the peculiar mist, Gernon’s instruments stopped working and traffic control could no longer see him on their screens. “We were caught inside this fog with the instruments malfunctioning and the air traffic control are unable to help us,” he recalled.
But the most surprising part was yet to come. When they came out of the disorienting tunnel, they realized they were directly over Miami beach. Gernon looked at his watch and saw they had only been flying for 30 minutes. In some mysterious way, a one-and-a-half-hour flight turned into a 45-minute trip.
George and David Rothschild are two of the first passengers to have reported a bizarre triangle related event. They were 19 years old when they flew over the waters of the Bermuda Triangle, and witnessed, in their words, one of the most frightening moments of their lives.
In 1952, the two boys flew north from the Florida keys above the waters of the notorious triangle. 20 minutes into their flight, the pilot yelled out frantically, “The instruments are dead!” With his devices down, the pilot had no idea of how much gas was left in the fuel or where he was heading.
With the pilot too nervous to fly ,the co-pilot took over and tried his best to get everyone to safety. George and David recalled the dreadful feeling of looking out the window and seeing nothing but the open waters, not knowing whether they were going to find themselves helplessly floating in the sea.
Luckily, after what felt like hours, they spotted land. The boys were grateful for having arrived on shore and kissed the ground as they stepped out of the plane. It took years for them to board an aircraft again. To this day, they don’t get why the devices suddenly shut off like that.
Were the instruments really down on that flight? Or was it the pilot who lost his compass? Experts, such as flying instructor Robert Grant, believe that a plausible explanation for this event has to do with the mind games that happen above the open sea.
Vertigo, or spatial disorientation is a terrifying condition where a pilot loses his sense of up and down. This confusion can easily spiral into a full on panic attack, leading to a distorted perception of the instruments at hand.
The afternoon haze is like a heavy cloak that muddles your view. With no understanding of where the sea ends and where the sky begins, a pilot may make completely irrational decisions. Like turning more and more right because he thinks he’s turning left.
Robert Grant confessed that vertigo happens a lot more than pilots like to admit. So, could this be the explanation for David and George’s bizarre flight? Was the pilot simply too confused to read his own instruments properly? Let’s hope so…
People have tried to debunk the spookiness surrounding the Bermuda Triangle by claiming that there are plenty of other areas in the world that claim just as many victims. But people have never argued that there are more accidents in this mythical areal. People argue that there are more disappearances.
And that’s a true claim. There is a higher number of unsolved cases of both ships and aircraft in this notorious section. Moreover, there are less cries for help on the radio. The lack of maydays is concerning. Time and again, the Triangle has claimed huge vessels whose debris has never been found.
What would you think if you stumbled upon a large ship in the middle of the Atlantic with no crew? In 1881, the captain of the Ellen Austin witnessed precisely that. He came across an abandoned vessel in the Bermuda Triangle. The unidentified boat looked fine, as did all the shipment and goods on board.
The captain shook off any nerves he had and placed a prize crew on the ship to tow it back with him. But two days later, a storm took over, drifting the two ships apart. Several days later, the captain spotted the ship again. But weirdly enough, the prize crew had vanished. No one was on board.
With 309 U.S. navy crew on board, the USS Cyclops set sail in 1918 from Brazil to Baltimore through the Bermuda region. Despite the good weather and proper sailing conditions, the ship never reached its destination. It vanished as if it had never existed.
An entire search was launched but nothing was ever found. What’s really weird is that the USS captain never cried for help. He never sent a distress signal, so no one onshore knew they were in trouble. The devastating loss of the USS Cyclops left no eye dry. To this day, no one can say for sure what happened.
On December 22, 1967, captain Dan Burack and his friend, Patrick Horgan, boarded the Witchcraft, a 23-foot luxury yacht. They planned to sail around Miami and enjoy the beautiful view. However, one short mile away from shore, the captain ran into some trouble.
He called the coast guard and informed him that they had hit something, but, luckily, no substantial damage was done. The guards immediately sent someone out to tow them back, but when they reached their location (only 19 minutes later), the men were gone.
Burack and Horgan’s ship was nowhere to be found. There was nothing in the area that seemed to hint that they had ever been there. What’s really peculiar is that the cruiser had numerous life jackets, flares, lifeboats, distress signal devices and more life-saving instruments. Yet none of them were used.
The coast guard officials searched for days and covered hundreds of square miles. But the search proved futile. As might be expected, people began to throw around ideas like abduction, spirits, ghosts, aliens, etc. To this day, no one knows.
Centuries before Flight 19’s eerie disappearance, people thought of the Bermuda Triangle, and more specifically, Bermuda, as the Devil’s Island. New world explorers heard awful screams coming from the trees and never dared to step foot there.
But, eventually, they did. And what they found was nothing devilish. The noise they heard was coming from the Caho, a bird that’s famous for its spooky, loud cries. Far from the Isle of the Devil that they imagined, the explorers discovered a beautiful island surrounded by pristine waters.
Fisherman Sloane Wakefield knows Bermuda’s waters pretty well and advises to respect their unpredictable nature. “In a nutshell, the waters here are treacherous,” he told Naked Science interviewers, “Because we are a dot in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, we got weather from everywhere and it can change in a heartbeat.”
Fisherman Mark Moran agreed, explaining that when the weather becomes violent, one’s boat is like “a feather in the wind on those waves.” Both fishermen believe that many of the disappearances in the Triangle can be attributed to the precarious weather.
But apart from the ordinary disturbances he’s encountered, Sloane Wakefield has had one experience in the triangle he simply can’t explain. “All my electronical instruments went haywire. And when they came back on, I was heading in the other direction,” he recalled.
For some strange reason, instruments fail in the triangle. Fishermen and sailors get confused time and again when they reach a certain point in this mythical section. Wakefield concluded that for the most part, he blames the weather for disappearances in the Bermuda Triangle, but malfunctioning instruments is something he can’t explain.
Hurricanes are devastating for sea vessels, aircraft, and for the people on shore. In other words, they’re bad news. According to meteorologist Jim Luchin, hurricanes storm into the Bermuda Triangle quite often.
“Here are more hurricanes in that particular area than any other in the Atlantic basin,” he revealed. Stating the obvious here: Hurricanes can easily destroy an aircraft and beat down a large ship. Many people assume that the recurring hurricanes in the area are a good explanation of some of the Triangle’s casualties.
Thunderstorms are another plausible explanation for several of the unsolved cases. A good example would be the disappearance of The Pride of Baltimore, a historic ship that set sail in 1986 but vanished from radar screens 240 miles north of Puerto Rico.
At first, no one understood what had happened. But four days later, eight survivors were found alive and revealed the devastating truth. The ship had been hit by a microburst – an intense wind that descends forcefully down to ground-level from a violent rain cloud above.
The Bermuda Triangle is a breeding ground for monstrous waves. Getting caught in one of those immense riptides is like being thrust around in an unforgiving washing machine. Apart from monster waves, the triangle holds another danger – waterspouts.
These deadly water tornados descend from gray, menacing skies, and are usually accompanied by heavy rain and wild winds. It’s not hard to imagine how one can easily flip over a vessel.
The Bahamas are also considered within the deadly Triangle’s boundaries. And what’s interesting about disappearances in the Bahamas’ turquoise water is that the bank is relatively shallow, yet no trace has ever been found of those who disappeared.
With four million visitors and thousands of boating trips each year, a lot of the Bermuda Triangle’s victims come from these peaceful looking islands. The Bahamas provide a false sense of security. With cold winds that sweep across from Florida, the weather can become deadly in a matter of seconds.
Probably more frightening than any monster wave, thunderstorm, or tornado, are the little bubbles that form at the bottom of the ocean. These deadly gasses can erupt at once like a volcano, and brutally swallow a ship and all of its helpless passengers.
Bruce Denardo, an expert in fluid dynamics explained, “In the ocean there’s something like a methane eruption. [And] it’s possible that those bubbles can sink a ship.” As you can tell by this point in the article, there are a handful of natural causes that can snatch peoples’ lives.
The unsolved mysteries of the Bermuda Triangle have spawned some creative theories. Some believe that UFOs are kidnapping people. Others believe in time warps and time tunnels, sucking people in and launching them into a different time zone or dimension.
Despite the handful of natural explanations, people still lean towards spooky stories and thrilling narratives. Why? Because for one, it’s more exciting. But two, there are a few incidents that neither bubbles nor hurricanes can account for.
People were (and still are) so entranced by this phenomon that it was only a matter of time until someone wrote a book about it. In 1974, Charles Berltiz published his creepy account of the Bermuda Triangle. In his book, he opens up about the many theories and ideas surrounding the disappearances.
His book is available in 30 languages and has sold almost 20 million copies worldwide. Despite most people’s fascination, some were super critical about the whole deal. As a response, author Larry Kusche published his work The Bermuda Triangle Mystery – Solved. We recommend reading both books and deciding for yourself.
Charles Berlitz’s book blew up when it first came out. So, filmmakers siezed the opportunity to make some money and, in 1978, the sci fi horror film, The Bermuda Triangle, was released. It tells the story of a large boat that sails into the Triangle’s deadly waters in order to find the remains of Atlantis.
On the way there, the family onboard discovers a creepy doll floating in the water. Now we’ll stop here because we don’t want to spoil the rest. In any case, the movie got mixed reviews. If you’re a huge skeptic when it comes to the Bermuda Triangle, you probably won’t enjoy the film.