Flight 19 disappearance in Bermuda Triangle



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Flight 19 disappearance in Bermuda Triangle

 

The saga of Flight 19 remains as one of the most mysterious disappearances in Bermuda Triangle. Flight-19 was the code name for Five Avenger bomber planes that took off from the Naval base at Florida on 5th of December 1945, but never returned. U.S Navy's final report mentioned "Reasons Unknown" when citing the cause of the incident. Thus Flight-19 also became known as The Lost Patrol. So what was actually Flight 19 and what really happened? My findings below are the closest to the reality that one can possibly get to. 



 

Flight 19 was a training flight with five TBM Avengers or Torpedo Bombers and was led by Commander Charles Taylor. Each was a 3-seater plane, very robust, safe and US Navy's best bombing planes to destroy enemy submarines. It could carry up to 2000 pounds of bombing ammunitions and had a range of 1000 miles. 

 

Other than Taylor, there were 13 others in the flight (in different planes) but were all trainees. Taylor was the only experienced pilot. On December 5, 1945 at 2:10 p.m., the five Avengers of Flight 19 took off one after the other from the Naval Air Station (NAS) of Fort Lauderdale at Florida for a routine training session. It was a clear day. 



 

US Navy Avenger planes similar to Flight 19 

flight 19 - bermuda triangle 

 

As per plans, the flight's path was to first go towards East into the sea for 56 miles up to Hens and Chicken Shoals to practice bombings. Then they were supposed go further east for another 67 miles towards the Bahamas. At this point they would turn north and go for 73 miles. Then turn back and head straight for the Naval Base back in Florida. This way they would cover a triangular area over the sea.  


The triangle with the yellow line on the picture below was the planned route of the flight 19. The weather over the route was reported as excellent, a typical sunny Florida day. At about 3:30 p.m., Taylor sent a message to the control tower that his compass was malfunctioning and he thought he was somewhere around the Florida Keys, which is a chain of islands in the south of Florida. So instead of heading towards East, he thought that they actually flew southwards due to compass problems. 

 

http://www.bermuda-attractions.com/bermuda2_i0000cc.jpg 

 

Immediately an instruction was given from the tower to turn north and fly towards Miami, only if he was sure that they were at the Florida keys. However, Taylor's idea of being close to the Keys was wrong. They had probably gone to the East as originally planned, but for some reason he got confused. As he guided the flight more towards north, further out to the sea the avengers traveled. 



 

At 3.45 p.m., Taylor's voice was heard again at the control towers. This time he sounded worried and confused ... "Cannot see land, we seem to be off course". At this stage there was another transmission that was picked up when one trainee student said to the other "If we would just fly west, we would get home." He was right. But who would care? After all they had to follow a stubborn leader. 

 

While these days the pilots use modern navigational equipment like the GPS, in 1945 a pilot had to rely on his starting point, speed, time of flight and the direction indicated by the compass to know where he would exactly be during the flight. If any of these deviated, there was a high chance that the flight would be lost. 


However, let me also state an interesting fact here before we go further into the Flight 19 story. While Taylor was an experience pilot, he did have a history of getting lost. He was lost thrice during the World War II. And in two of such occasions, he had to ditch his pane into the sea to get rescued. Secondly, he did not have good knowledge about the area around east and south of Florida. 

 

So, an interesting twist to the story?  



 

Yes. In fact, at about 4:45 p.m. on that day, it was quite clear to the men on the Base Station that Taylor was hopelessly lost, and he was still trying to go further North and then East again. He was then instructed to hand over the control to one of the students. Apparently he did not. 

 

At 5:50 p.m. the ComGulf Center somehow managed to trace the Flight 19 avengers on its radar. It was apparently at the east of New Smyrna Beach, Florida. By then communications had become so poor that this information could not be passed on to the lost planes. It was getting dark. The weather started to become rough too and the Avengers were very low in fuel. Hope was rapidly fading for the Flight 19 by then.  



 

Officers at the naval base station thought it was enough. At 7:27p.m, two Martin Mariner planes were sent to search the Flight-19. These mariners were like flying boats that could also land on the sea. The last transmission from Flight 19 was heard at 7:04 p.m. Search continued all through the night and the next day. There was no sign of the Avengers. The rescue Mariners were supposed to meet at the search zone. But strangely the second Mariner never showed up, it too disappeared.  

 

Facts behind the Flight 19 mystery 

So what happened to Flight 19 Avenger Planes? How did they get lost in the triangle? Check out What happened to Flight 19 to know how the search operation was carried out, the conclusions reached and what finally came out in the Navy Board's report. 

 

And what happened to the Martin Mariner that was sent for rescue operation but never returned? Visit PBM Martin Mariner to know the full story about this rescue plane that itself was never traced in Bermuda Triangle and became part of the mystery. 



 

 

PBM Martin Mariner


The Bermuda Triangle Story

 

It was the same night of December 5, 1945 when the planes of Flight-19 went missing in the Bermuda Triangle area. Finally the order came from the US Navy to send two Martin Mariner planes to start the  Flight-19 search operation. 



 

It was past 7pm and the Navy had given up hope that the Fligh-19 planes were still going to make it. So the two PBM Martin Mariners, that were essentially flying boats, took off at 7.27pm from the Banana River Navy Base Station in Florida. 

 

The Martin Mariners were heavily used by U.S those days to patrol the ocean areas, detect any enemy submarine operations, and rescue pilots and crew who would have crashed into the Atlantic. They had the ability to easily land on ocean water. They used to carry huge amount of fuel so that they could carry out a search operation for long if required. Some even called them 'Flying Gas Tanks'. 



 

PBM Martin Mariner 

pbm martin mariner 

 

So, the two such Mariners took off, this time to search for the Flight-19 planes. Both the mariners were generally used for training purposes. But this time they were on a special mission. One of them, called the Training-32 headed straight out into the ocean. The other one, called Training-49 went north bound along the east coast. After the second Mariner took off, the base station never heard from it again. It was around 9pm, when a message came in from a freighter ship SS Gaines Mill that they saw a huge explosion on the ocean at a distance. 



Training-32 was still searching for the Flight-19 and was in constant touch with the base station. At about 10pm, they diverted and reached the spot reported by the freighter ship. But strangely, they saw no fire there and nor any debris floating. Water sample brought from that place did not show any trace of oil suggesting there could not have been any explosion there at all. But the crew of the freighter Gains Mill reported that they saw a huge ball of fire dropping into the ocean at a distance and then a big explosion. 

 

So what really happened to the second Martin Mariner? 

The mariner was in the best of conditions and thoroughly checked by both technicians as well as the captain before taking off. So any engine failures or such were ruled out. Some speculated that a cigarette lighting inside the cabin had blown up the plane. That theory was ruled out too. Since the mariners carried huge amount of gas, smoking was strictly prohibited in flight and no one should have lit a cigarette. 

 

Now the interesting twist comes. The Navy board during the investigation reported that there are often greenish lights seen along the coast lines of Florida. This has also been confirmed by the resident locals. This green light would float around for a while, then descend and slowly disappear. This is often linked with something known as St. Elmo's fire which has a green hue. The fire is caused due to the area's unique climate. It radiates huge amount of electrical charge. And it is also known that although airplanes have anti-static equipment, they seem to glow green when they come under the charge from such Elmo's fire. And in one occasion, a plane had even blown up. 



 

So was it such electrical charge from Elmo's fire that interfered with the navigational system and caused fire? This may be a possible theory. But this has not yet been established with facts and evidence. Unfortunately the investigation of Martin Mariner is still incomplete and remained as a great mystery of Bermuda Triangle. 



Tudor Star Tiger
Disappearance in Bermuda Triangle

 

On January 30, 1948, the Star Tiger, a Tudor aircraft was on its way to Bermuda. The long 12 hours journey from Santa Maria in Azores was almost coming to an end. At 3:15 a.m., the radio operator of the aircraft received the radio position of the plane. It was all set to land at 5a.m in Bermuda. In just one and half hours time, the 25 passengers on board would see the marine lights of Bermuda. But 5a.m. had come and gone. The plane was never seen or heard of again. Here is the full story of Tudor Star Tiger's mysterious disappearance in Bermuda Triangle. 



 

The Background 

Star Tiger was the third Tudor Mark IV aircraft that was ordered by the British South American Airline (BSAA). It was an extended and improved Tudor aircraft manufactured by the Avro Corporation. Avro also manufactured two other types: Yorks and Lancastrians.In 1948, the Tudor was a relatively new aircraft and had  history of 575 hours of flying experience from the time it was first launched. However, there was no prior incidence of accidents or malfunction. 

 

The dreaded flight of Tudor Star Tiger 

On January 28, 1948, Star Tiger started from Lisbon for its first leg of journey to Santa Maria in the Azores. It was supposed to be a short halt for refueling. But due to bad weather conditions and strong winds, the Captain Brian W McMillan decided that they would fly to Bermuda the next day. So on 29th January, the flight took off from Santa Maria despite strong winds. There were 25 passengers on board, and one of them a very distinguished person - Air Marshal Sir Arthur Coningham, a hero of World War II. 

 

The captain decided to fly at an exceptionally low altitude of 2000 feet in order to avoid the strong head wind that originates particularly due to the Gulf stream at the Atlantic. At 3:15 a.m., when many of the passengers were sleeping or dozing, the radio operator of the flight pressed a button to get position of the plane from Bermuda's radio operator. 



The Bermuda operator responded giving the position of the plane at 72 degrees. On receiving the message, the Captain McMillan and the flight radio operator agreed that the Estimated Time of Arrival at Bermuda would be 5a.m. 

 

The Bermuda operator tried to contact the Star Tiger later at 3:50am but got no response. He tried again at 4:40am when it was almost time for the fight to start its descend for landing. He did not get any response again and immediately declared a state of emergency. The plane's landing time of 5am had long passed. There was no trace of the flight, nor there was any distress call raised by the captain of the flight. 



 

Tudor Mark IV (similar to Star Tiger) 

tudor mark iv 

 

There was a massive rescue operation launched by the USAAF personnel with 26 aircraft flying for 882 hours to search for the Star Tiger. The operation lasted for 5 days. But they found no trace of it or its passengers and the crew. On January 31, 1948, the news of the passenger Sir Arthur Coningham's death shared the front page of The New York Times along with other terrible news of Mahatma Gandhi's assassination and the death of Orville Wright. 



 

Investigation on the disappearance of Star Tiger 

The British Aviation Ministry immediately grounded the other two Tudor aircraft owned by the BSAA airlines although they were later released only for cargo operation. The ministry also initiated a thorough investigation headed by Lord MacMillan. The investigation lasted for 11 days. 

 

The team came back with a lot of observations on what could not have happened rather than what may have happened to the Star Tiger flight. Very rare to be seen in the history of such investigation, the team admitted its inability to reach to the real cause. This is what they quoted in their final report: 



 

"In closing this report it may truly be said that no more baffling problem has ever been presented for investigation. In the complete absence of any reliable evidence as to either the nature or the cause of the accident of Star Tiger the Court has not been able to do more than suggest possibilities, none of which reaches the level even of probability. Into all activities which involve the co-operation of man and machine two elements enter of a very diverse character. 

 

There is an incalculable element of the human equation dependent upon imperfectly known factors; and there is the mechanical element subject to quite different laws. A breakdown may occur in either separately or in both in conjunction. Or some external cause may overwhelm both man and machine. What happened in this case will never be known and the fate of Star Tiger must remain an unsolved mystery."  



Fight DC-3 Disappearance in
Bermuda Triangle

 

On December 28, 1948, the flight Douglas Dakota  DC-3 (NC16002) took off at 10.03p.m. from San Juan airport of Puerto Rico heading for Miami (Florida). While it was only 50 miles south of Florida, it sent the last message to indicate its position. Only 20 minutes to go, the flight was never seen or heard of again. It disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle area with all its 28 passengers and 3 crew members.This was the first instance of a DC-3 aircraft disappearing. There were subsequently two more such cases, all of them happened within 50 miles of Florida Keys. The Keys is a string of small islands just south of Florida. 



 

Here is the full story of DC-3 / NC16002 disappearing in Bermuda Triangle. 

 

Background of DC-3 (Douglas Dakota) 

Douglas Dakota or the DC-3 has been probably the most reliable aircraft ever designed and built. There were more than 10,000 DC-3 planes manufactured, and still hundreds remain in use. These are propeller driven aircraft and not jet planes. The economics and practical consideration have still kept them in use although small jet planes are now gradually replacing them. 

 

You will see lots of these aircraft in Florida and also in the whole of Caribbean and Bahamas. Their job is mainly island hopping. Because of small distances between the islands and also short runways, the big jumbo jets are usually unfit for such activities and DC-3 is ideally suited for this. The DC-3 is also widely used as private charter planes by many airlines and also for spraying pest controls from the air, particularly mosquito killers. 



 

The dreaded flight of DC-3, NC16002 

At 7:40p.m. on 27th December 1948, the DC-3 landed at San Juan airport in Puerto Rico. It came from Miami and was scheduled to return after a short halt at San Juan. 

Captain Bob Linquist reported to the ground engineers that the light indicator for the landing gear did not come on at the time of landing. The ground crew immediately started the checks and figured out that the battery was weak and running low on water. The stewardess Mary Burkes was busy deplaning the passengers and the co-pilot Ernest Hill was going around the aircraft for routine checks. The ground crew refilled the battery and informed the captain that it would take several hours for the batteries to recharge fully. The captain however decided not to wait that long and rather charge the batteries in the air from the aircraft's own generator. 

 

Douglas Dakota DC-3 



douglas dakota dc-3 

 

So at 8:30p.m the DC-3 was all set to depart for Miami. By this time, Mary Burkes had on-boarded 28 passengers for the return trip. 



 

However, there was lot more annoying wait before the plane could finally take off. The radio transmitter in the aircraft was not working properly due to the low battery. So the aircraft was asked to wait at the end of the tarmac. The head of Puerto Rican Transport drove to the plane to talk to the captain. Linquist informed him that he could clearly receive the messages but could not every time send messages due to the low battery. 

 

Finally at 10:03p.m. when all seemed to be okay, the flight was allowed to take off. The captain was advised to stay close to San Juan till the two way communication was fully established from the air. The flight circled the San Juan city for 11 minutes, and once the both way radio communication was confirmed, it started its journey out towards the sea for Miami. 



 

Next, at 11:23p.m, the captain Linquist sent his routine radio transmission to indicate the flight position - it was at 8,300 feet altitude and reported ETA 4.03a.m at Miami. But funnily, while the message was received at Miami control tower which was some 700 miles away, there was no transmission received at San Juan which was much closer.  

 

The captain next reported the flight position when it was 50 miles south of Florida and only 20 minutes to land. Strangely again, the message this time was received at New Orleans which was about 600 miles away and not Miami that was so close by. New Orleans radio tower forwarded the message to Miami station. 



 

And that was the last time a message was ever received from the DC-3. The weather was normal. Repeated radio signals from the control towers did not get any response. The flight DC-3 had suddenly disappeared with all its passengers and crew. 



What may have happened to DC-3 

An explosion could have explained the aircraft getting disintegrated in the air keeping no trace of anything. No one from near or around Florida had heard any explosion. Also the waters at the Florida Keys area is so shallow that any debris could easily be seen. Even after long intensive search, there was nothing found. 

 

Many believe that the transmitter of the aircraft was faulty and therefore the captain did not receive a message sent from Miami radio station at 12:15a.m informing that there was a change in wind direction from North West to North East. As a result, the plane could have been blown 40 to 50 miles south and off its course by the wind. Then they would have got lost, had run out of fuel and crashed. The gulf stream would have dispersed all the debris and bodies. 



 

This also looks improbable because when the captain last reported its position, it was 50 miles south of Florida. There was no need for the aircraft to go south of Florida to reach Miami. So the captain knew that they had been moved off course by the wind and would have used the in-flight positioning instrument to fix the position of the flight. 

 

One thing for sure. Whatever may have happened, would have happened suddenly and very fast. The real mystery of Douglas Dakota DC-3 in Bermuda Triangle remains unsolved till date. 



 

USS Cyclops
The greatest mystery of the sea

 

USS Cyclops was a massive carrier ship and supplied fuel to the American fleet during the World War-I. The 522-foot Cyclops displaced 12,000 tons of water. On January 8, 1918, the ship started sail from the snow covered Norfolk navy port towards Rio of Brazil under the command of Lt. Commander Worley. The ship was only a few years old. The purpose of this voyage was to unload coal at Rio and load Manganese ores used mainly for making steel. 



 

On January 28, the ship reached Rio. It would now dock here for two weeks. And as planned, large amount of coal was unloaded and then 10,000 tons of Manganese ores were loaded into the ship. So the ship was heavy and full. On the day of its departure, surprisingly some 73 local sailors were asked to board the ship. And more surprisingly, the American Consulate General of Rio, Gottschalk also boarded the ship. When asked why? He mentioned that he wanted to enlist his name in the US army to serve the nation during the war. 

 

USS Cyclops 

uss cyclops 

 

USS Cyclops then set sale again on February 16th with 309 persons on board and huge load of cargo. It was homebound for Baltimore via Bahi. Now there was another odd turn to the story. After the ship left Bahi, instead of sailing straight towards Baltimore, the captain took it to Barbados in West Indies on March 3rd. He said that they needed more fuel and supplies. Although the US Consul General in Barbados did not feel the necessity of loading more coal and supplies, but the captain insisted, and it was finally done. 



On March 4th, Cyclops set sale again and was scheduled to reach Baltimore on March 13th. But... it was never heard of again. When the ship did not reach Baltimore as scheduled, a massive search was initiated soon along her whole course. Every naval ship from Cuba to Puerto Rico searched for any possible debris anticipating that it might had fallen pray to German Submarines. However, there was no trace of Cyclops. 

 

So, what happened to USS Cyclops? 

There are many theories, but none could prove it with real facts and evidence. Even after some 15,000-page report from the US Navy probing the Cyclops mystery, most explanations have still remained as speculations. Until now this disappearance has remained as one of the greatest mysteries of the ocean, and strangely the ship was right in the middle of Bermuda Triangle when the incident had supposedly taken place. 

 

Here are some explanations that come close to what may actually have happened on the sea: 



 

 The Captain Worley used to be hated by most of his fellow staffs and officers. They always accused him to be a pro-German. It was actually found out later that Captain Worley was a German born and had a different name earlier. It is not known what caused him to change his name. Also Gottschalk, the US Consulate General of Rio, who surprisingly boarded the ship along with 73 other local sailors, was also very popular among the German community in Brazil. To top it all, lot more coal and fuel were loaded from Barbados when it was not officially planned or even required.  

 

So was it a case of Sabotage? Why was there no SOS call made by the captain. Since the US war with Germany already broke out by then, did the captain and Gottschalk connived together and sunk the ship or destroyed it? Or may be taken it all the way to Germany? 



 

 Here is another theory. One of the navy officers, Nervig was onboard the Cyclops till Rio. He wrote a report that he often found the deck of the ship swaying when large waves struck the ship. So the ship was already showing signs of weakening and getting split. So there may had been a structural failure that sunk the ship. 


  Another report says that on its sail from Rio, Cyclops was overloaded with Manganese plus fuel and many persons aboard. The load was more than the ship was designed to handle. A heavy mid oceanic storm had hit the ship and it overturned, cargo scattered and it all sank to the bottom of the ocean. 

 

 Was the ship blasted by a German underwater mine or torpedoed by a German Sub? US Navy claims that such possibility does not exist if the ship had been on its right course. However, had the ship been off its track by a large margin, there was a high possibility of that to happen and the ship would have perished. 



USS Scorpion
Mystery of the USN Submarine

 

USS Scorpion (SSN-589) was a Skipjack-class nuclear powered submarine of the USN (United States Navy). Scorpion was declared lost on June 5, 1968 and that too while it was not at war. Scorpion was commissioned on July 29, 1960. After initial assignments of training and other short operations, her home port became Norfolk in 1962 and remained so for rest of her career. 



 

The Scorpion specialized in the development of nuclear submarine warfare tactics. Varying her role from hunter to hunted, she participated in exercises which ranged along the Atlantic coast and in the Bermuda and Puerto Rico operating areas. 

 

In 1966, she was deployed for special operations and entered an inland Russian sea during a "Northern Run" where it successfully filmed a Soviet missile launch through its periscope before being forced to flee by using its high speed capability. 



 

On completion of such special operations, her commanding officer received the Navy Commendation Medal for outstanding leadership, foresight, and professional skill. Other Scorpion officers and crewmen were also cited for meritorious achievement. Scorpion was a fast attack submarine and had a reputation for excellence. 

 

USS Scorpion 

uss scorpion 

 

The Disappearance of USS Scorpion 

On February 1, 1967 the Scorpion entered the Norfolk Naval Shipyard at her home port for an extended overhaul. In late October, she commenced refresher training and weapons system acceptance tests. Later on February 15, 1968 she got underway for a Mediterranean deployment. Upon departing the Mediterranean on 16 May, she headed west for home. On May 21, she indicated her position to be about 50 miles south of the Azores. Six days later, she was reported overdue at Norfolk. A search was initiated. But on June 5th, Scorpion and her crew were declared "presumed lost." Her name was struck off from the Navy list on June 30. 
Wreck of USS Scorpion 

The search continued and a Court of Inquiry was setup by the US navy. At the end of October, the Navy's Ocean research ship Mizar located sections of Scorpion's hull in more than 3000 meters (i.e. about 10,000 feet) deep water and about 400 miles southwest of the Azores. Other vessels including the submersible Trieste that were later sent to the wreck area, collected lots of pictures and other information. 

 

The submarine was broken into two major pieces: The forward hull section, including the torpedo room and most of the operations compartment, created one huge trench on impact with the sea floor. And the aft section including the reactor compartment and engine room, created a second impact trench. The sail is detached and lies nearby in a large debris field. Much of the operations compartment had disappeared, and most of the debris was identified as coming from the operations compartment. One of Scorpion's running lights was locked in the open position as if it had been on the surface at the time of the mishap. 



 

US Navy photo 1968 of the bow section of Scorpion 

uss scorpion wreck 

 

So what was the cause of USS Scorpion loss? 

At the time of her sinking, there were 99 crewmen aboard Scorpion. The submarine contained a treasure-trove of highly sophisticated spy gear and spy manuals, two nuclear-tipped torpedoes, and a nuclear propulsion system. The best available evidence indicates that Scorpion sank in the Atlantic Ocean on May 22, 1968. 

 

Several theories and explanations have been given as cause of the loss, but none are conclusive. Some have suggested that attack by a Soviet submarine caused Scorpion's loss. The most likely cause was the activation of a torpedo by mistake at the time of inspection. The torpedo, in a fully ready condition and without a propeller guard, then began a live run within the tube. As soon as it got released from the tube, it struck its nearest target, the Scorpion itself. Alternatively, the torpedo may have exploded in the tube due to an uncontrollable fire in the torpedo room. 



 

 

 



However, no one till date knows the real cause. The Navy's Court of Inquiry did not reconvene after the 1969 investigation, and did not take testimony from a group of submarine designers, engineers and physicists who spent nearly a year evaluating the data gathered from the wreck of Scorpion. 

 Wreck of USS Scorpion 

The search continued and a Court of Inquiry was setup by the US navy. At the end of October, the Navy's Ocean research ship Mizar located sections of Scorpion's hull in more than 3000 meters (i.e. about 10,000 feet) deep water and about 400 miles southwest of the Azores. Other vessels including the submersible Trieste that were later sent to the wreck area, collected lots of pictures and other information. 

 

The submarine was broken into two major pieces: The forward hull section, including the torpedo room and most of the operations compartment, created one huge trench on impact with the sea floor. And the aft section including the reactor compartment and engine room, created a second impact trench. The sail is detached and lies nearby in a large debris field. Much of the operations compartment had disappeared, and most of the debris was identified as coming from the operations compartment. One of Scorpion's running lights was locked in the open position as if it had been on the surface at the time of the mishap. 



 

US Navy photo 1968 of the bow section of Scorpion 

uss scorpion wreck 

 

So what was the cause of USS Scorpion loss? 

At the time of her sinking, there were 99 crewmen aboard Scorpion. The submarine contained a treasure-trove of highly sophisticated spy gear and spy manuals, two nuclear-tipped torpedoes, and a nuclear propulsion system. The best available evidence indicates that Scorpion sank in the Atlantic Ocean on May 22, 1968. 

 

Several theories and explanations have been given as cause of the loss, but none are conclusive. Some have suggested that attack by a Soviet submarine caused Scorpion's loss. The most likely cause was the activation of a torpedo by mistake at the time of inspection. The torpedo, in a fully ready condition and without a propeller guard, then began a live run within the tube. As soon as it got released from the tube, it struck its nearest target, the Scorpion itself. Alternatively, the torpedo may have exploded in the tube due to an uncontrollable fire in the torpedo room. 



However, no one till date knows the real cause. The Navy's Court of Inquiry did not reconvene after the 1969 investigation, and did not take testimony from a group of submarine designers, engineers and physicists who spent nearly a year evaluating the data gathered from the wreck of Scorpion. 

Fight 441 Disappearance in
Bermuda Triangle

 

Flight 441 was a huge carrier that belonged to the US Navy. The civilian or the commercial model of the aircraft is known as the Super Constellation. In military version, it was called R7V-1. The aircraft was one of the greatest success of its time. It was touted that it could cross the Atlantic in 8 and half hours. On October 30, 1954, the flight 441 took off from the Patuxent River Naval Air Station bound for Lajes in Azores. There were 42 passengers, all naval officers and their families who were transported overseas. 



 

Like in many of the Bermuda Triangle incidences, initially there were regular communication received from the aircraft. And suddenly, it was all silent. The last transmission was received around 11:30p.m which was a regular report informing its location. That time the aircraft was about 400 miles off the coast. 

 

And after that, Flight 441 simply vanished. The disappearance of Flight 441 remains as one of the biggest mysteries of Bermuda Triangle. Not even a single clue till date has been gathered to throw any light on the cause. The incidence was thoroughly investigated by the board, which focussed on the plane itself, the weather and the Pilot Leonard's capability. 



 

The weather was somewhat typical for the North Atlantic at this time of the year - no snowing, sporadic thunderstorms and mild turbulence. But the flight 441, capable of attaining great altitudes, could have easily been above this weather. Plus the aircraft had a weather radar installed on it which was capable of giving forewarning if there was any adverse weather condition detected. The experienced pilot certainly would have avoided the bad weather based on the indications from this weather radar. 

Here is what the board of investigation reported about the Pilot and the weather: 

 

". . .Lt. Leonard has been flying the North Atlantic routes for the past two years and it is thought that he was very familiar with this kind of weather. His choice of 17,000 feet altitude for this flight was a good one. According to the weather cross section 19,000 feet would have been an even better altitude. At any rate he should have been on top, for the most part, except for occasional buildup. It must be pointed out that the R7V-1 was equipped with ASP-42 Airborne Radar and is always used when flying this sort of weather." 



 

The Board also reported: "The possibility of structural failure during transit of frontal weather cannot be discounted in this accident, but the possibility appears remote." 

 

 

An R7V-1 (Similar to Flight 441) 



r7v-1 aircraft (flight 441) 

R7V-1 was similar to the civilian model Super Constellation by  

Lockheed. It was one of the most successful planes of her time 

and a super performer in the commercial airline industry 

 

On Pilot's capability, the Board commented: 



 

"Lt. Leonard was well trained in thunderstorm penetration speed and technique. It is thought that if he did enter a thunderstorm he would have entered at the correct speed and would have flown the up and down drafts without fighting them. The weather that Lt. Leonard was thought to have been subjected to was not beyond the capabilities of R7V-1, nor was it thought to be beyond his own capabilities." 

 

So what could have happened to the Flight 441? 



 

Let's take a look at the list of cargo carried by the aircraft: 111 life vests, 46 exposure suits, 660 paper cups and 5 life rafts. All these can easily float in water. So, if the plane blew off in the air, all these would have got scattered on the ocean water and could have been traceable. If she simply nose dived into the water without breaking off, the pilot should have sent an SOS. But none of this apparently seems to have happened. 

 

Here is what the board had to say finally: 



 

"It is the opinion of the Board that R7V-1 BuNo 128441 did meet with a sudden and violent force, that rendered the aircraft no longer airworthy, and was thereby beyond the scope of human endeavor to control. The force that rendered the aircraft uncontrollable is unknown."  

 

Well, I thought it was a classic statement and can probably explain all cases of Bermuda Triangle disappearances in just couple of lines like the above



Marine Sulphur Queen
Lost in Bermuda Triangle

 

SS Marine Sulphur Queen was originally a T2 tanker built in 1944. There were many such tankers built by the US during World War II to carry oil. However in 1960, this 524-foot tanker was converted into a carrier of molten sulphur. For that, they had to modify the ship's internal structure and build huge sulphur carrying tanks. These tanks would always be kept heated up at high temperatures so that the sulphur remained molten. 



 

On February 2nd 1963, Marine Sulphur Queen started her ill fated voyage from Beaumont, Texas destined towards Norfolk. She was carrying over 15000 tons of molten sulphur and 39 crew members on board. 

 

She was last heard on Feb 4th when a routine radio message was received from the ship. There was nothing unusual in the message. However subsequently when all efforts to communicate with the ship failed, a massive search operation was launched. After 19 days of sea combing operation, the rescue team found only some debris and life preservatives. There was no trace of the ship or its crewmen. The ship had simply disappeared somewhere in the south Florida Straits. 



 

Debris of Marine Suplur Queen 

marine suplur queen debris 

Courtesy Waypoint U.S. Coast Guard Digital Archive 

 

So What happened to Marine Sulphur Queen? 



 

Investigation of Marine Sulphur Queen mystery 

 

US Coast Guard launched an investigation into the mystery of Suplhur Queen. It was true that at the time of her disappearance, the sea was rough and the waves were some 16-foot high. But can that really make such a huge ship disintegrate altogether? Here are some of the important investigation findings of US Coast Guards: 



 The ship was often seen with fire around the Sulphur tanks. This was caused due to leakage and heat around the tanks. This was so common that often the crew did not even bother about it. In one occasion, the ship even came to a New Jersey port with such burning fire, offloaded sulphur and sailed out while there was still fire around the tanks. 

 

 Due to heavy corrosion, the keel (a structure) in the middle portion of the ship was becoming very week. It was quite possible that the keel could split up. The ship was actually due for its routine maintenance in January before its sail. But the owners still insisted on the ship sailing as it was behind its planned schedule of cargo delivery. After all nobody likes commercial losses. In fact, before the ship started its last sail, a crewman was heard telling his wife ... the ship was a "floating garbage can". 



Conclusion 

 

Well, as extensive search resulted into nothing but only some debris and such, the Coast Guards and the Navy Board reached the conclusion that the ship was actually lost in the sea. They also concluded that it was lost on February 4, 1963 near the Straits of Florida. 



 

While they could not assign any definite cause to the loss, they highlighted that the following could have been the possibilities: 

 

 An explosion could have taken place in the cargo tanks due to leakage. 



 The vessel's hull may have split up into two. 

 The ship may have been capsized in rough sea. 



 A steam explosion may have happened and the crew would have got poisoned. 

 


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