Sunday, May 25, 2008

Bermuda Triangle

The Bermuda Triangle, also known as the Devil's Triangle, is a region of the northwestern Atlantic Ocean in which a number of aircraft and surface vessels have disappeared. Some people have claimed that these disappearances fall beyond the boundaries of human error or acts of nature. Some of these disappearances have been attributed to the paranormal, a suspension of the laws of physics, or activity by extraterrestrial beings by popular culture.[1] Though a substantial documentation exists showing numerous incidents to have been inaccurately reported or embellished by later authors, and numerous official agencies have gone on record as stating the number and nature of disappearances to be similar to any other area of ocean, many have remained unexplained despite considerable investigation.

Image:Bertriangle.jpg

Famous incidents

Main article: List of Bermuda Triangle incidents

Flight 19

US Navy TBF Grumman Avenger flight, similar to Flight 19. This photo had been used by various Triangle authors to illustrate Flight 19 itself. (US Navy)

US Navy TBF Grumman Avenger flight, similar to Flight 19. This photo had been used by various Triangle authors to illustrate Flight 19 itself. (US Navy)

Main article: Flight 19

Flight 19 was a training flight of TBM Avenger bombers that went missing on December 5, 1945 while over the Atlantic. The impression is given that the flight encountered unusual phenomena and anomalous compass readings, and that the flight took place on a calm day under the supervision of an experienced pilot, Lt. Charles Carroll Taylor. Adding to the intrigue is that the Navy's report of the accident was ascribed to "causes or reasons unknown." It is believed that Taylor's mother wanted to save her son's reputation, so she made them write "reasons unknown" when actually Taylor was 50 km NW from where he thought he was. [26]

While the basic facts of this version of the story are essentially accurate, some important details are missing. The weather was becoming stormy by the end of the incident; only Taylor had any significant flying time, but he was not familiar with the south Florida area and had a history of getting lost in flight, having done so three times during World War II, and being forced to ditch his planes twice into the water; and naval reports and written recordings of the conversations between Taylor and the other pilots of Flight 19 do not indicate magnetic problems.[26]

Mary Celeste

The mysterious abandonment in 1872 of the Mary Celeste is often but inaccurately connected to the Triangle, the ship having been abandoned off the coast of Portugal. The event is possibly confused with the sinking of a ship with a similar name, the Mari Celeste, off the coast of Bermuda on September 13, 1864. [27]

Ellen Austin

The Ellen Austin supposedly came across an abandoned derelict, placed on board a prize crew, and attempted to sail with it to New York in 1881. According to the stories, the derelict disappeared; others elaborating further that the derelict reappeared minus the prize crew, then disappeared again with a second prize crew on board. A check of Lloyd's of London records proved the existence of the Meta, built in 1854; in 1880 the Meta was renamed Ellen Austin. There are no casualty listings for this vessel, or any vessel at that time, that would suggest a large number of missing men placed on board a derelict which later disappeared.[28]

USS Cyclops

Main article: USS Cyclops (AC-4)

The incident resulting in the single largest loss of life in the history of the US Navy not related to combat occurred when USS Cyclops under the command of Lt Cdr G. W. Worley, went missing without a trace with a crew of 309 sometime after March 4, 1918, after departing the island of Barbados. Although there is no strong evidence for any theory, storms, capsizing and enemy activity have all been suggested as explanations.[29][30]

Theodosia Burr Alston

Main article: Theodosia Burr Alston

Theodosia Burr Alston was the daughter of former United States Vice President Aaron Burr. Her disappearance has been cited at least once in relation to the Triangle. [31] She was a passenger on board the Patriot, which sailed from Charleston, South Carolina to New York City on December 30, 1812, and was never heard from again. Both piracy and the War of 1812 have been posited as explanations, as well as a theory placing her in Texas, well outside the Triangle.

Spray

Main article: Spray (sailing vessel)

Captain Joshua Slocum's skill as a mariner was beyond argument; he was the first man to sail around the world solo. In 1909, in his boat Spray he set out on a course to take him through the Caribbean to Venezuela. He disappeared; there was no evidence he was even in the Triangle when Spray was lost. It was assumed he was run down by a steamer or struck by a whale, the Spray being too sound a craft and Slocum too experienced a mariner for any other cause to be considered likely, and in 1924 he was declared legally dead. While a mystery, there is no known evidence for, or against, paranormal activity.

Carroll A. Deering

Schooner Carroll A. Deering, as seen from the Cape Lookout lightship on January 29, 1921, two days before she was found deserted in North Carolina. (US Coast Guard)

Schooner Carroll A. Deering, as seen from the Cape Lookout lightship on January 29, 1921, two days before she was found deserted in North Carolina. (US Coast Guard)

A five-masted schooner built in 1919, the 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 the Deering was a victim of piracy, possibly connected with the illegal rum-running trade during Prohibition, and possibly involving another ship, S.S. Hewitt, which disappeared at roughly the same time. Just hours later, an unknown steamer sailed near the lightship along the track of the Deering, and ignored all signals from the lightship. It is speculated that the Hewitt may have been this mystery ship, and possibly involved in the Deering crew's disappearance.[32]

Douglas DC-3

Main article: NC16002 disappearance

On December 28, 1948, a Douglas DC-3 aircraft, number NC16002, disappeared while on a flight from San Juan, Puerto Rico, to Miami. No trace of the aircraft or the 32 people onboard was ever found. From the documentation compiled by the Civil Aeronautics Board investigation, a possible key to the plane's disappearance was found, but barely touched upon by the Triangle writers: the plane's batteries were inspected and found to be low on charge, but ordered back into the plane without a recharge by the pilot while in San Juan. Whether or not this led to complete electrical failure will never be known. However, since piston-engined aircraft rely upon magnetos to provide spark to their cylinders rather than batteries, this theory is not strongly convincing.[33]

Star Tiger and Star Ariel

Main article: Star Tiger and Star Ariel

These Avro Tudor IV passenger aircraft disappeared without trace en route to Bermuda and Jamaica, respectively. Star Tiger was lost on January 30, 1948 on a flight from the Azores to Bermuda. Star Ariel was lost on January 17, 1949, on a flight from Bermuda to Kingston, Jamaica. Neither aircraft gave out a distress call; in fact, their last messages were routine. A possible clue to their disappearance was found in the mountains of the Andes in 1998: the Star Dust, an Avro Lancastrian airliner run by the same airline, had disappeared on a flight from Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Santiago, Chile on August 2, 1947. The plane's remains were discovered at the melt end of a glacier, suggesting that either the crew did not pay attention to their instruments, suffered an instrument failure or did not allow for headwind effects from the jetstream on the way to Santiago when it hit a mountain peak, with the resulting avalanche burying the remains and incorporating it into the glacier. However, this is mere speculation with regard to the Star Tiger and Star Ariel, pending the recovery of the aircraft. It should be noted that the Star Tiger was flying at a height of just 2,000feet (610m), which would have meant that if the plane was forced down, there would have been no time to send out a distress message. It is also far too low for the jetstream or any other high-altitude wind to have any effect.[34]

KC-135 Stratotankers

On August 28, 1963 a pair of U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft collided and crashed into the Atlantic. The Triangle version (Winer, Berlitz, Gaddis [14][13][10]) of this story specifies that they did collide and crash, but there were two distinct crash sites, separated by over 160miles (260km) of water. However, Kusche's research[16] showed that the unclassified version of the Air Force investigation report stated that the debris field defining the second "crash site" was examined by a search and rescue ship, and found to be a mass of seaweed and driftwood tangled in an old buoy.

SS Marine Sulphur Queen

Main article: SS Marine Sulphur Queen

SS Marine Sulphur Queen, a T2 tanker converted from oil to sulfur carrier, was last heard from on February 4, 1963 with a crew of 39 near the Florida Keys. Marine Sulphur Queen was the first vessel mentioned in Vincent Gaddis' 1964 Argosy Magazine article,[10] but he left it as having "sailed into the unknown", despite the Coast Guard report which not only documented the ship's badly-maintained history, but declared that it was an unseaworthy vessel that should never have gone to sea.[35][36]

Raifuku Maru

One of the more famous incidents in the Triangle took place in 1921 (some say a few years later), when the Japanese vessel Raifuku Maru (sometimes misidentified as Raikuke Maru) went down with all hands after sending a distress signal which allegedly said "Danger like dagger now. Come quick!", or "It's like a dagger, come quick!" This has led writers to speculate on what the "dagger" was, with a waterspout being the likely candidate (Winer). In reality the ship was nowhere near the Triangle, nor was the word "dagger" a part of the ship's distress call ("Now very danger. Come quick."); having left Boston for Hamburg, Germany, on April 21, 1925, she got caught in a severe storm and sank in the North Atlantic with all hands while another ship, RMS Homeric, attempted an unsuccessful rescue.[37]

Connemara IV

A pleasure yacht found adrift in the Atlantic south of Bermuda on September 26, 1955; it is usually stated in the stories (Berlitz, Winer [13][14]) that the crew vanished while the yacht survived being at sea during three hurricanes. The 1955 Atlantic hurricane season lists only one storm coming near Bermuda towards the end of August, hurricane "Edith"; of the others, "Flora" was too far to the east, and "Katie" arrived after the yacht was recovered. It was confirmed that the Connemara IV was empty and in port when "Edith" may have caused the yacht to slip her moorings and drift out to sea.


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