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what three places make up the bermuda triangle?
An area of roughly half a million miles between Bermuda,
Miami and Puerto Rico form the infamous Bermuda Triangle where countless ships and planes have vanished without a trace.
The Bermuda Triangle is a region in the western part of the North Atlantic Ocean in which ships, planes, and people are alleged to have mysteriously vanished.
In March 1918, a U.S. Navy ship with a crew of 309 departed Barbados and was never seen again. Did the ship capsize? Is there a supernatural explanation?
The area in which the ship disappeared is the infamous Bermuda Triangle. Also known as the Devil’s Triangle,
it is a heavily traveled shipping lane in the Atlantic Ocean where ships and planes have been known to mysteriously disappear. The boundaries vary slightly,
but according to the Naval History and Heritage Command, the triangle apexes are usually considered to be Bermuda; Miami, Florida; and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Over time, the Bermuda Triangle has tickled the imagination of armchair travelers and conspiracy theorists, securing itself a place in popular culture. But suspicions of paranormal activity playing a role in the disappearances have been,
for the most part, dispelled. For example, the U.S. Navy does not believe in the existence, or unusual attributes, of the triangle.
There are reasonable explanations for the disappearances within the Bermuda Triangle, from human error to piracy to hurricanes. Incidentally, the number of disappearances that occur within the Bermuda Triangle is fairly similar to other ocean areas of similar size, further debunking the myth that mysterious forces are at work in these Caribbean waters.
Bermuda Triangle Theories and Counter-Theories
By the time author Vincent Gaddis coined the phrase “Bermuda Triangle” in a 1964 magazine article,
additional mysterious accidents had occurred in the area,
including three passenger planes that went down despite having just sent “all’s well” messages. Charles Berlitz, whose grandfather founded the Berlitz language schools, stoked the legend even further in 1974 with a sensational bestseller about the legend. Since then, scores of fellow paranormal writers have blamed the triangle’s supposed lethalness on everything from aliens,
Atlantis and sea monsters to time warps and reverse gravity fields, whereas more scientifically minded theorists have pointed to magnetic anomalies, waterspouts or huge eruptions of methane gas from the ocean floor.
In all probability, however, there is no single theory that solves the mystery. As one skeptic put it, trying to find a common cause for every Bermuda Triangle disappearance is no more logical than trying to find a common cause for every automobile accident in Arizona. Moreover, although storms, reefs and the Gulf Stream can cause navigational challenges there, maritime insurance leader Lloyd’s of London does not recognize the Bermuda Triangle as an especially hazardous place. Neither does the U.S. Coast Guard, which says: “In a review of many aircraft and vessel losses in the area over the years, there has been nothing discovered that would indicate that casualties were the result of anything other than physical causes.
Bermuda has a predominantly market economy based on tourism and international finance. The gross national product (GNP) is growing more rapidly than the population, and the GNP per capita is one of the highest in the world.
Tourism and international financial services account for the major share of the GNP and employ virtually all the workforce directly or indirectly. Some half million tourists visit Bermuda each year; most come from the United States. The island is famous for its pink sand beaches, which get their colour from one of the sand’s main components, pulverized coral and shells. Another attraction for tourists is the historic town of St.
Airlines typically account for most arrivals, but there are also dozens of calls by cruise ships each year. Bermuda has low income taxes; the government derives most of its revenues from tariffs and various taxes on real estate and tourism. As a result, the territory has become an important offshore financial centre, and many insurance and investment companies have established offices there. Principal trading partners include the United States, which supplies nearly seven-tenths of Bermuda’s imports by value; the countries of the European Union; Canada; and various Caribbean countries.
Disappearance of Flight 19
Flight 19 originated at the U. S. Naval Air Station in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Five TBM Avenger Torpedo Bombers carrying 14 men took off at roughly 2:10 in the afternoon that day on a routine navigational training mission.
Led by instructor Lieutenant Charles Taylor,
the assignment was to fly a three-legged triangular route with a few bombing practice runs over Hen and Chickens Shoals.
Taylor, in an age before the Global Positioning System (GPS) became commonplace for navigation, got hopelessly lost shortly after the bombing run. Pilots flying over water in 1945 had to rely on compasses and knowing how long they’d been flying in a particular direction, and at what speed.
Both of the compasses on Taylor’s plane were apparently malfunctioning. Transcripts of in-flight communications suggest he wasn’t wearing a watch. There are no landmarks in the middle of the ocean.
The planes flew in one direction then another as balmy daylight turned to stormy seas in the darkness.
Taylor is heard formulating a plan; as soon as the first plane’s fuel level dipped below 10 gallons, all five planes were to ditch at sea.
The Avenger was known as an extremely rugged plane. Pilots sometimes called them “Iron Birds” or Grumman ironworks, said Mark Evans, a historian at the Naval Aviation History branch of the Naval Historical Center.
“They were built like tanks,” he said. “Time and again they’d come back from battle all shot up and still functioning. Pilots loved them.”
They were also very heavy, weighing more than 10,000 pounds (4,535 kilograms) empty. When ditched, the Avenger would go down hard and fast. The possibility of anyone surviving a landing in high seas was slim, the chance of surviving the night in the cold waters was nil, the likelihood of the wreckage making a quick descent to the bottom was high.
A massive land and sea search was mounted, but neither bodies nor wreckage were ever found.
Adding to the tragedy, one of the rescue planes also disappeared along with its 13-man crew. Their plane, a PBM Mariner, was nicknamed the “flying gas tank”; the slightest spark or a lit match could cause an explosion. A ship in the area reported seeing a huge fireball and crossing through an oil slick at the exact time and place where the plane would have been. The Navy halted production of that plane in 1949.
In the Navy’s final report, the disappearance of Flight 19 was blamed on pilot error. Taylor’s family protested and, after several reviews, the verdict was changed to “causes or reasons unknown.”
Mystery of the disappearing facts
But before we accept any of these explanations, a good skeptic or scientist should ask a more basic question: Is there really any mystery to explain?
A journalist named Larry Kusche asked exactly that question, and came to a surprising answer:
there is no mystery about strange disappearances in the Bermuda Triangle.
In his definitive book “The Bermuda Triangle Mystery — Solved,” Kusche notes that few writers on the topic bothered to do any real investigation — they mostly collected and repeated other,
earlier writers who did the same. Unfortunately, Charles Berlitz’s facility with language did not carry over into credible research or scholarship. In a way, the Bermuda Triangle is largely a creation of Charles Berlitz’s mistakes. Kusche would later note that Berlitz’s research was so sloppy that “If Berlitz were to report that a boat were red,
the chance of it being some other color is almost a certainty.”
In some cases there’s no record of the ships and planes claimed to have been lost in the aquatic triangular graveyard; they never existed outside of a writer’s imagination. In other cases,
the ships and planes were real enough — but Berlitz and others neglected to mention that they “mysteriously disappeared” during bad storms. Other times the vessels sank far outside the Bermuda Triangle.
It’s also important to note that the area within the Bermuda Triangle is heavily traveled with cruise and cargo ships; logically, just by random chance, more ships will sink there than in less-traveled areas such as the South Pacific.
Despite the fact that the Bermuda Triangle has been definitively debunked for decades, it still appears as an “unsolved mystery” in new books — mostly by authors more interested in a sensational story than the facts. In the end, there’s no need to invoke time portals, Atlantis, submerged UFO bases,
geomagnetic anomalies, tidal waves, or anything else. The Bermuda Triangle mystery has a much simpler explanation: sloppy research and sensational, mystery-mongering books.
The Bermuda Triangle has fascinated many who lean toward believing imaginative stories and bizarre explanations,
but skeptics take a whole other view of the area. Find out whether you’ve got the facts straight.
Moving on from old tales
Today, large passenger planes often fly through the Bermuda Triangle and none disappear. You can even track flights in the area live online.
In fact, from the mid-1940s to the mid-1980s, more small planes have crashed over the US mainland than in the Bermuda Triangle. But because they crashed on land where the wreckage was found, they were not considered mysterious.
Sometimes, when an event is hard to explain, it’s tempting to say it was caused by the paranormal or supernatural.
But if 1,000 aircraft fly through the Bermuda Triangle and we can explain what happened to 990 of them, should we say the other 10 were supernatural cases? No.
All we can say is we don’t know what happened for sure – and we should try to learn more. Usually when we learn more, the mystery disappears.