The Bermuda Triangle or “Devil’s Triangle” is an undefined area off the southeastern Atlantic coast of the United States of America, which is known for its high incidence rate of unexplained disappearances of aircraft and sea vessels. The three vertices of the triangle are Bermuda; Miami, Florida; and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The phrase “Bermuda Triangle” was coined by Vincent Gaddis in an article he published in a 1964 issue of the pulp magazine Argosy. Although Gaddis was the initial one to come up with the phrase, Charles Berlitz would popularize the phrase a decade later in his bestselling 1974 book The Bermuda Triangle. Berlitz was a firm believer in Atlantis and attempted to link the Bermuda Triangle to Atlantis by claiming to have located the lost civilization under the sea within the Bermuda Triangle region.
Over the years, many propositions have been presented to explain the mystery, with some writers even expanding Berlitz’s notions about Atlantis. They advocated that the lost city may perhaps lie at the bottom of the ocean and is utilizing rumored ‘crystal energy’ to engulf planes and ships. Other more imaginative notions include a possible gateway to alternate dimensions and extraterrestrials – even involving speculations of submerged alien bases.
The most famous disappearance occurring in the triangle is the mystery of Flight 19 which took place on December 5, 1945. A squadron of five US Navy bombers took off from their home base in Fort Lauderdale, Florida to conduct a practice mission over the Bimini island of the Bahamas. The flight comprised of fourteen men, all were students except for their commander, Lieutenant Charles Taylor. About an hour and a half into the mission, radio operators received a distress signal from Taylor stating that his compasses were malfunctioning, but he assumed he was flying over the Florida Keys. The radio operators advised him to fly north which would inevitably bring him back to the mainland. However, in actuality, he was over the Bahamas, and his attempts at heading north brought him further away from land. A terrible storm took place that day which hindered communications and Taylor rejected the proposition of passing control of the squadron to one of the less experienced pilots.
Since radio contact was completely lost, a search party of Martin Mariners, which were used to patrol ocean areas, and conduct search and rescue operations, was dispatched. Their main mission was to locate the flight and guide them back in safely. However, the search and rescue mission was unsuccessful, as one of the planes called in their last routine radio message just after dark, and was never heard from or seen again. While the other plane blew up in mid-air shortly after takeoff for reasons unknown. Planes, debris or people of Flight 19 and their rescue party were never found which adds to the mystery of this event. The U.S. Navy concluded that the disaster was attributed to Taylor’s confusion, but an appeal by his family had this overturned, and a verdict of ’causes or reasons unknown’ was given. Although, Flight 19 is not the only high profile official loss in the area, as the USS Cyclops and the SS Marine Sulphur Queen have also vanished without a trace.
Realistically, the Bermuda Triangle does possess one natural quality which may contribute to the disappearances. No where else in the world except for the Dragons Triangle near Japan, does the compass point to true north instead of magnetic north. While this may be a contributing factor to the triangle’s legend, the U.S. government, more specifically the U.S. Navy officially believes the disappearances are caused by a mixture of environmental and man-made mistakes. Since the region is used by large amounts of air and sea traffic, much of it is navigated by inexperienced pleasure-seekers to which a strong Gulf stream and unforeseeable weather conditions can not only cause vessels to run into trouble but can also remove traces of them once they have been wrecked.
It is interesting to note that the U.S. government does not view the region as having a high rate of accidents. They don’t even believe the triangle exists, as the name is not recognized by the US Board on Geographic Names. Consequently, due to the mysterious disappearances, and the ideas propagated by thousands of books, magazines, television shows, and websites, the Bermuda Triangle theory will remain impervious in the human psyche.