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Flight 19 in Bermuda Triangle
The saga of Flight 19 remains as one of the most mysterious incidents of Bermuda Triangle. Five Avenger bomber planes that took off from the Naval base at Florida on 5th of December 1945, never returned. U.S Navy's final report mentioned "Reasons Unknown" when citing the cause of the incident. 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 Avenger Bombers and was led by the commander Charles 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.
US Navy Avenger planes similar to Flight 19
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. Check out Flight-19 Route and Events to know the exact route of the flight and the sequence of events that took place.
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.
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?
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 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.
So what happened to the Martin Mariner that was send 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.
Facts behind the Flight 19 mystery
And what happened to Flight 19 Avenger Planes? How did they get lost in the triangle? Check out Flight 19 report by the navy to know how the search operation was carried out, the conclusions reached and what finally came out in the Navy Board's report.
1) Check out Bermuda Triangle Incidents to know about many other amazing mysteries of Bermuda Triangle.
2) Check out Bermuda Triangle Theories that try to explain the major disappearances.
3) Check out Bermuda Triangle Mystery to know about the mystery of Bermuda Triangle, how it originated, what's happening in the area, its history and more.
By Raj Bhattacharya
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