The modern legend of the Bermuda Triangle began to take shape on 5 December 1945 when Flight 19 took off from the U.S. Naval Air Station in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Flight 19 was a squadron of five TBM Avenger Torpedo Bombers on a routine training mission, led by Lieutenant Charles Taylor.
After taking off from Fort Lauderdale, Lt Taylor found himself hopelessly lost with his compasses failing. After calling for help from base, Taylor attempted to fly north towards Miami but the more he tried to return to land, the more he and his crew went out to sea.
By nightfall, there were no more radio signals from Flight 19. To this day, despite a massive land and sea search, no bodies or wreckage have been found.
Since the disappearance of Flight 19, the area’s waters are suspected to have claimed hundreds of vessels.
The phrase Bermuda Triangle wasn't used until 1964 when an unusually high number of ship disappearances took place in the “triangle” between Bermuda, Puerto Rico, and Miami.
[Image: Creative Commons]
From sea monsters and giant squid to alien abductions and alternate dimensions, there are many theories about what happens to planes and ships that go down in the Bermuda Triangle.
But the truth is likely a combination of less far-fetched causes including human error, treacherous weather, and plain bad luck.
The U.S. Coast Guard's official response to Bermuda Triangle inquiries states, "It has been our experience that the combined forces of nature and the unpredictability of mankind outdo science-fiction stories many times each year."
Scientists argue that the triangle is no more or less dangerous than any other stretch of open sea. No one has been able to prove that mysterious disappearances occur more frequently there than in other heavily-used sections of the ocean.
"The region is highly travelled and has been a busy crossroads since the early days of European exploration," said John Reilly, a historian with the U.S. Naval Historical Foundation.
"To say quite a few ships and airplanes have gone down there is like saying there are an awful lot of car accidents on the New Jersey Turnpike – surprise, surprise."