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Flight 19 and the Bermuda Triangle
The fate of Flight 19
This case has to be one of the most poignant of the Bermuda Triangle mysteries.
It happened on 5th December 1945 when 5 TBM Avenger torpedo bombers took off from Ft Lauderdale on a training mission, never to return.
Was what happened just another one of those weird events that seem to have been associated with the Bermuda Triangle?
The Bermuda Triangle
The area between Miami, Bermuda and Puerto Rico has been dubbed the Bermuda Triangle and has been an area where many air and surface vessels have disappeared.
Reports have often greatly embellished the disappearances, which are said to have been no greater in number than anywhere else - statistically speaking and many theories as to why such a large number of ships and aircraft seem to be lost in the area abound from the paranormal to the extraterrestrial.
The flight plan
The leader was Naval Lt Charles Carrol Taylor, himself a training instructor who had logged some 2,500 hours of flying time. Sadly, his trainees had logged only 300, but according to experts, this should never have happened. Taylor was there as a supervisor, with one of the trainees taking the lead
Each aircraft was fully fuelled and had no clock, but it was assumed that each of the pilots would have been wearing a watch of their own. It should have been a simple exercise with a set course of five legs, starting almost due east before undertaking a mock 'bombing raid', further mileage along the same course before a change of direction (almost north) and then a turn to the west to fly back to base.
Conversations at the base
All the radio messages between the planes of flight 19 were monitored by the base and at around 15:00, a pilot requested and was given the all clear to drop his last bomb.
Some forty minutes later, one of the pilots requested a compass bearing from another trainee, Powers. This message was received by another flight trainer at the base, a Lt Robert F. Fox, who then heard a male voice reply that he didn't know where they were; that they must have lost their bearings after the last turn.
Taylor explained that both of his compasses were out, that they were over land, but that the land was broken. He said that he knew they were over the Keys, but that he didn't know how far down and didn't know how to get to Ft Lauderdale.
He was advised to keep the sun on his port wing and fly north up the coast to Ft Lauderdale, yet this wasn't carried out.
Indeed, they were also told to change frequencies, twice, but the only message received was that Taylor refused, telling the base command, "I can't change frequencies, I need to keep my planes intact."
After several more rather strange messages, where Taylor had flown east, then west, then east again, they heard the message that Taylor gave all his men to fly tight and when the last plane hits ten gallons, they'd all go down together.
No-one knows. One pilot was heard to ask why they couldn't just fly west, but it was put down to discipline as a reason as to why the trainees didn't just head off on their own.
What makes this so strange is that a search and rescue operation was launched in an effort to find the planes, the pilots or both. One of the rescue planes however was never seen again. This one may well have exploded, though what caused that to happen is anyone's guess.
This is one of those stories that takes a bit more than a short hub and a summary to do justice, but even so, it sparks the imagination.
Just because the Bermuda Triangle isn't recognised by either the US military or Lloyds of London as a risk area, some of the events that have been reported, have lent themselves to us wondering whether something weird is happening there.
There have been reports of aeroplanes landing late after flying through that area with everyone's watches showing exactly the same time; all of them wrong by the same amount - ten minutes. There was the case of the unsinkable boat, that disappeared and a whole host of others, some of which have an entirely paranormal feel to them.
This one however seems strange I think because it's not one that can be put down to one plane going wrong or one ship sinking.
Large question marks have been placed upon Lt Taylor and his abilities and decisions on this mission, but no-one knows what really happened that day.
What makes this worse is the fact that one of the rescue planes was also lost, which in many people's eyes, shows that something really was happening out there that day that cannot be explained by rational means, but maybe it's just coincidence that six planes were lost in two separate incidents on the same day in the same area.