The Bermuda Triangle or Devil's Triangle as it is also called is a vast three sided area of the Atlantic Ocean bordered by Bermuda, Puerto Rico, and Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Although this area can be very beautiful it can also be treacherous for travellers. Over the years it has been responsible for the loss of many people, boats, and aircraft in mysterious circumstances. There have been past incidents reporting the loss of navigation and control systems around the area affecting aircraft and shipping. The loss of Flight 19 from NAS Fort Lauderdale, Florida was one of the many incidents of an aircraft gone missing. |
On the 5th December 1945 at 14.10hrs, Flight 19, took off from NAS Fort Lauderdale, Florida on a training mission. The leader, Lt. Charles Taylor was a qualified flight instructor, and the flight was comprised of 5 TBM Avenger aircraft with a total of 14 crew. The training mission consisted of flying east for 56 miles to Hens and Chickens Shoals , south of Grand Bahamas to conduct practice low level bombing before heading 67 miles further east, 73 miles north, then 120 miles back to base.
The first part of the mission went without incident and they conducted their bombing mission at Hens and Chickens Shoals at 14.30hrs. At 14.40hrs they reformed and headed east towards Great Stirrup Cay which was 67 miles further east and 113 miles east of Florida. At 15.10hrs they headed in a north-westerly direction. At 15.45hrs, Lt. Robert Cox, a senior flight instructor, who was flying in the vicinity of Fort Lauderdale, and was joining up with a squadron of students, heard Flight 19 over the radio and it sounded like they were having difficulties.
Lt. Taylor informed Lt. Cox that both his compasses were out and that he was lost. He said that he was trying to get back to Fort Lauderdale and that he believed he was now over the Florida Keys but didn't know how to get back to base. Lt. Cox asked what their present altitude was so he could come south to meet them but Lt. Taylor said "I know where I am at now. I'm at 2,300 feet. Don't come after me." Lt. Taylor was convinced that he was over the Florida Keys heading north into the Gulf of Mexico. After flying north for about an hour he turned east which he believed would take them to Florida and back to base. Fuel was now getting low and he decided to continue east until they sighted land or had to ditch in the sea. Radio communication with Flight 19 became fainter until nothing more was heard from them.
A full scale search was launched which lasted until December 10th 1945 and which covered all possible areas where Flight 19 could have ditched but nothing was ever found, they seem to have vanished of the face of the earth. A Martin Mariner search plane with a crew of 13 which took off to take part in the search also went missing. No trace of the plane or its crew was ever found.
There is a possible explanation for the disappearance of Flight 19 as follows:
1. Lt. Taylor thought he was over the Florida Keys when in fact he was over the Bahamas. He flew north into what he thought was the Gulf of Mexico when really he was flying out into the Atlantic Ocean, east of Florida. When he turned east towards what he thought was the Florida mainland he was actually heading further out into the Atlantic where they ran out of fuel and ditched in rough seas out beyond the continental shelf where they were never found.
2. Lt Taylor had been asked to switch to an emergency radio channel but he refused because one of the aircrafts radios had a faulty reciever and he was afraid if he changed frequencies then he would lose contact with the other aircraft in his flight. If he had selected the emergency channel then radio stations along the coast could have made a fix on his position.
3. Several of the crew members of Flight 19 informed Lt. Taylor that after they were flying north they should head in a westerly direction and not east which is where Lt. Taylor led them. Had they turned west then they would have headed back to Florida but due to the crews military discipline they followed their leader.
4. The Martin Mariner search aircraft exploded 23 minutes after take-off and this was witnessed by several people. The Martin Mariner was notorious for having fuel leaks and was nicknamed the Flying Gas Tank. An oil-slick and debris were found and the explosion may have been caused by one of the crew lighting a cigarette unaware of the gas fumes in the cabin.
Or are there mysterious forces out in the Bermuda Triangle that can make compasses malfunction and cause the disappearance of people, boats, and aircraft? After all, Flight 19 is just one mystery out of hundreds that have occured in the DEVIL'S TRIANGLE......You decide.