Planes being lost at sea and never being heard from again, is sadly, something we’re all familiar with. History has had its fair share of these incidents and none more infamous than those lost within the Bermuda Triangle. Some believe that if you venture into the Bermuda Triangle you will never be seen again; but the fact is that hundreds of planes and boats enter and leave the 500,00 square mile area each year without incident.
Yet it is true that several vessels have inexplicably been lost there. Each myth always has a hint of truth, and the perilous reputation of the Triangle began one fateful winter, seventy years ago.
Five TBM Avenger torpedo bombers took off on a routine training flight from Ft. Lauderdale, FL in early December 1945. There was a total of 14 men among the five planes lead by Lieutenant Charles C. Taylor.
This was the 19th consecutive mission for the team (thus Flight 19) where the men practiced different maneuvers and ultimately dropping their payload. The official report shows that the practice mission had been completed by the pilots and shortly thereafter radio transmissions between the team was overheard by other aircraft in the area.
Taylor became convinced that their compass had somehow malfunctioned and that they were heading in the wrong direction. Navigation soon became even more strenuous when a storm quickly encompassed their planes.
A Navy flight instructor, Lieutenant Robert F. Cox, who was conducting his own mission in the area, overheard the distress call from Taylor. The transmission he overheard from Taylor was bewildering and the anxiety in his voice made it clear that the team was in trouble.
Taylor: “I’m over land but it’s broken. I’m sure I’m in the Keys, but I don’t know how far down.”
This distress call simply didn’t make sense as this would have meant that Taylor and his men would have somehow drifted hundreds of miles off course in an extremely short amount of time.
After some discussion from Lieutenant Cox, Taylor was persuaded to head West, but shortly thereafter seems to have changed direction again. The transmissions from Taylor’s team became broken and faint as the plane flew further out into the sea, away from anyone who could render assistance.
Two PBM Mariner planes were sent out that evening in search for Taylor and his men. One, which took a similar flight path as Flight 19, vanished from radar 20 minutes after takeoff.
The next day over 300 vessels including boats and planes were dispatched in search of both Flight 19 and the now missing mariner plane.
No remains or debris from either craft were ever discovered. The 14 men of Flight 19 and 13 crew aboard the PBM Mariner were forever lost at sea.
It was these incidents that began the Bermuda Triangle’s eerie and foreboding identity.