The Bermuda Triangle, also known as the Devil’s Triangle, is an urban legend focused on a loosely defined region in the western part of the North Atlantic Ocean where a number of aircraft and ships are said to have disappeared under mysterious circumstances. The idea of the area as uniquely prone to disappearances arose in the mid-20th century, but most reputable sources dismiss the idea that there is any mystery.
The sail training ship HMS Atalanta (originally named HMS Juno) disappeared with her entire crew after setting sail from the Royal Naval Dockyard, Bermuda for Falmouth, England on 31 January 1880. It was presumed that she sank in a powerful storm which crossed her route a couple of weeks after she sailed, and that her crew being composed primarily of inexperienced trainees may have been a contributing factor.
The search for evidence of her fate attracted worldwide attention at the time (connection is also often made to the 1878 loss of the training ship HMS Eurydice, which foundered after departing the Royal Naval Dockyard in Bermuda for Portsmouth on 6 March), and she was alleged decades later to have been a victim of the mysterious triangle, an allegation resoundingly refuted by the research of author David Francis Raine in 1997.
Flight 19 was a training flight of five TBM Avenger torpedo bombers that disappeared on December 5, 1945, while over the Atlantic. The squadron’s flight plan was scheduled to take them due east from Fort Lauderdale for 141 mi (227 km), north for 73 mi (117 km), and then back over a final 140-mile (230-kilometer) leg to complete the exercise. The flight never returned to base. The disappearance was attributed by Navy investigators to navigational error leading to the aircraft running out of fuel.
Star Aerial and Star Tiger
G-AHNP Star Tiger disappeared on January 30, 1948, on a flight from the Azores to Bermuda; G-AGRE Star Ariel disappeared on January 17, 1949, on a flight from Bermuda to Kingston, Jamaica. Both were Avro Tudor IV passenger aircraft operated by British South American Airways. Both planes were operating at the very limits of their range and the slightest error or fault in the equipment could keep them from reaching the small island.
Do Pilots Actually Avoid Flying Over the Bermuda Triangle?
If you’ve traveled to the Caribbean, you’ve probably flown over the mythical region. By Andrea Romano Updated on November 12, 2022. Fact checked by Elizabeth MacLennan
The Bermuda Triangle has always been shrouded in mystery. It’s a place of alien abductions, strange disappearances, and ghostly sightings, so naturally people get a little nervous when they think about flying over it.
What is the Bermuda Triangle?
Also known as the Devil’s Triangle, this area of the Atlantic Ocean has been credited for causing mass disappearances and a number of wrecks over the years. While people love to throw around conspiracy theories about each of these Bermuda Triangle stories, there may be perfectly logical explanations for all of them.
Still, the superstition continues around this relatively small slice of ocean, so much so that some people refuse to travel around it. Despite the spooky stories, you’d be surprised at how many times people have sailed or flown over the area and not noticed anything out of the ordinary.
Where is the Bermuda Triangle?
The Bermuda Triangle is an area of the Atlantic Ocean that doesn’t necessarily have an agreed-upon boundary, but it is generally considered to be the area bounded by the southeastern coast of the U.S., Bermuda, and the islands of Cuba, Hispaniola, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico. According to some calculations, the area makes up anywhere between 500,000 and 1.5 million square miles and is trianglelike in shape. It’s a pretty big area of ocean, in general, though relatively small considering the ocean covers about 70% of Earth’s surface.
There’s no telling how many ships or planes have “disappeared” in the Bermuda Triangle, but the U.S. Navy estimates that around 50 ships and 20 aircraft have gone missing there. Despite these figures, data does not show that disappearances are more likely in this spot. There are two incidents that are considered mysteries of the Bermuda Triangle, specifically the disappearances of Flight 19 in 1945 and the USS Cyclops in 1918. There is no clear indication that these disappearances have anything to do with the supernatural, but they are still unexplained.
Why do things disappear in the Bermuda Triangle?
Conspiracy theorists have proposed many different, though mostly superstitious and inconceivable, reasons as to why disappearances and disasters occur in the Bermuda Triangle. Some have theorized that the area is a hotbed of alien activity, positing that these extraterrestrial beings are abducting humans for study. Alien theorists have considered this spot to be a sort of maritime Area 51. Others have suggested that it’s the real-life location of the lost continent of Atlantis, therefore making it a portal to another dimension.
The most likely culprit for these mysteries isn’t really a mystery at all. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, most scientific explanations include the many tropical storms and hurricanes that pass through this area, along with the Gulf Stream Current, which can cause sudden and extreme changes in the weather. There may even be some evidence that suggests that this area has a particular geomagnetic anomaly that can cause a ship or plane’s navigation to point to “true” north rather than “magnetic” north, the NOAA says.
This can lead to navigation failure, though it should be noted that magnetic anomalies are found all over the world and are not exclusive to this area.
Other theories also include explosive methane gas that can float up to the water’s surface, causing ships to sink, and simple human error. In the case of Flight 19, the Navy says it’s most likely that the squadron of bombers ran out of fuel and crashed into the ocean. It’s a tragic disaster, but it may not be a true mystery.
The superstitions and stories still prevail, mostly because this area is perceived to have more disappearances or tragic accidents than other parts of the world. However, this is actually untrue. The World Wildlife Fund found the most dangerous waters on the planet, but the Bermuda Triangle isn’t one of them. In fact, it’s not even mentioned in the report.
Do pilots actually avoid it?
Considering the superstition surrounding the Bermuda Triangle, many people assume that airline pilots actively avoid this area of the ocean. Of course, anyone who has flown from Miami to San Juan, Puerto Rico, probably knows that’s not true. In fact, if it were, pretty much everyone’s Caribbean vacation would be ruined. A check on Flightradar24 will show that there are many flights crisscrossing the Bermuda Triangle, so it’s clear that the area is not actively avoided.
In terms of navigation, flights are constantly monitored by air traffic control, so pilots have support if there is a navigation failure. Weather conditions are also closely tracked every time a plane is scheduled to take off. Accidents, of course, still happen, but not any more so than in other parts of the world.
Investigating Bermuda Triangle conspiracy theories, in general, is more of a paranormal pursuit than a scientific one, so if there are any pilots who do avoid the Bermuda Triangle, they are probably just interested in the supernatural or UFOs. While entertaining these theories can certainly be fun, you can rest assured that the airline industry definitely doesn’t plan its routes around campfire stories.