From Abracadabra to Zombies
reader comments: Bermuda Triangle
22 Feb 2000
Love your site at skepdic.com. I want to bring a small error to your attention. The Bermuda Triangle is generally accepted (myth logically speaking) to have as its Florida vertex the city of Ft. Lauderdale, not Miami as in your myth #26. Specifically, it is anchored at Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood international Airport, where, when it was a US Navy training base, that infamous flight of training planes took off never to be seen again. Many of the original buildings of the Navy base are still standing. We folks who are residents of Ft. Lauderdale and surrounding communities are proud of this bit of folklore. Miami may be the bigger city, but we think it gets too much "credit" in this regard.
reply: Really? You're proud of this? Well, give credit where credit is due. However, the Bermuda or Devil's Triangle is not an actual place and does not have actual boundaries. All points of reference are rough, including Bermuda and Puerto Rico. D. Trull lists Ft. Lauderdale instead of Miami as one point of the triangle. But the U.S. Navy lists Miami and specified San Juan, Puerto Rico, as does Bubba the Salty Dog. James Knickelbein puts Miami as one of the points. If it were called the Ft. Lauderdale Triangle I'd be concerned about where to put this point of the triangle, but since it isn't, I'm not.
28 Oct 1998
This may or may not be of interest to you, but I thought I'd toss it your way anyway. My late mother was a U.S. Navy WAVE during World War II, posted at a small naval air station near Orlando. She was a Link Trainer Instructor (she taught instrument navigation to Navy pilots), so she knew a great deal about navigation, naval aircraft, and the men who flew them.
She was still living when all the hype about the Bermuda Triangle and the loss of Flight 19 hit the news, and she was astonished and disgusted at the outrageous claims that were made about the incident. First, she pointed out the fact that during World War II, MANY, MANY planes went down all over the world, leaving no trace, and there have been virtually no attempts to attribute these losses to anything but military action, mechanical failure, or human error. World War II had ended by the time Flight 19 disappeared, but that only eliminated the possibility of military action.
The other causes could still apply. Most naval aircraft were equipped with automatic distress signal transmitters that were supposed to float free and start sending a radio signal when a plane made a forced landing in water, providing search and rescue craft with a "fix" on the location. The proponents of the Bermuda Triangle nonsense have made much of the fact that not a single signal was received from the transmitters that had been aboard the planes of Flight 19. This may not be EXACTLY what she said, but a pretty close quotation of my mother's reaction to this argument was "Those damned things didn't even WORK most of the time, and even when they did, it wasn't for very long!" We also know that the seas were heavy, and radio transmission conditions were poor, so it should come as no surprise that no automatic distress signals were picked up.
Depending on which sources you read, most of the planes were missing some or all of their navigation equipment, and one essential instrument (a clock) was missing from the planes of the student pilots. It appears that from something else my mother told me that there was no evil plan or design behind this omission. The simple fact was that the Navy had a major problem with clocks being stolen out of planes. These clocks were massive instruments costing hundreds of dollars (even in the 1940's), and were designed to keep very accurate time. I have in my possession at least one letter my mother wrote to her mother mentioning this problem of theft, and further describing how a surprise search of the entire base turned up several clocks in personal lockers and other locations they were not intended to be. So, maybe it's just possible that they were short of clocks the day Flight 19 took off.
I realize that this doesn't add much to the material we already have which debunks the Bermuda Triangle, but perhaps it does add one more opinion of someone versed in navigation and naval aviation to the others which saw nothing mysterious about the disappearance of Flight 19