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|Fails from the crypt|
Flight 19 was a United States Navy training mission that disappeared in 1945 within the Bermuda Triangle, forming one of the central parts in the Bermuda Triangle mythology. Its complement of five Grumman Avenger bombers, crewed by fourteen airmen, were lost at sea on 5 December 1945 after losing their bearings. To compound the tragedy and add fuel to the myth, another aircraft — a Martin Mariner with a crew of thirteen — was sent to search for them and was also lost.
Enter the Triangle writers
For many years, these events were just another disaster at sea, with only the failure to locate the aircraft marking the event as mysterious. However, when the various authors on the Bermuda triangle wrote of Flight 19, certain details were emphasised to draw attention to the possible paranormal aspects of the case. It was said that flight leader Lt. Charles Taylor was highly experienced, as were his men, and were hardly the sort to get themselves lost; it was said that the weather was fine; and that transcripts of the flight's radio communications contained strange statements like "everything is wrong… even the ocean doesn't look as it should" and "don't come after me! They look like…" The Martin Mariner is said to have disappeared in clear weather without reporting a problem.
This is strange stuff indeed — if it were true. However, reference to the original inquiry into the disaster shows up the glaring errors of the mystery writers. The day of 5 December, with the impression given of cloudless skies, is only true until shortly after the flight took off from Fort Lauderdale, Florida — it deteriorated rapidly after that, with search parties reporting unsafe flying conditions and heavy seas. The only experienced flier was Lt. Taylor, who had no clock or watch with him; he believed his compass to have failed; the radio frequency that the flight was using was subject to interference from Cuban radio stations; and lastly, the planes were engaged not in a routine flight as often stated, but a complex navigational exercise which none of them had done before. It is thought that Taylor, when asked for a confirmation of their position by another airman, confused the sight of Sale Cay in the Bahamas with the Florida Keys, with which he was familiar. He therefore led the group north, expecting to reach the mainland, but took them instead parallel with the coast until they ran out of fuel. The last that was heard of them was at 7:04 PM, when one pilot was heard trying to contact Taylor. The search plane had a high-octane fuel load (it was called the "flying gas can" by some airmen), and was seen by the captain of the freighter Gaines Mills to explode in midair and crash into the sea (Charles Berlitz calls this sighting "a flare", insisting that the planes all disappeared in some mysterious manner).
Although tragic, this loss is not paranormal. An inexperienced crew, led by a pilot unfamiliar with the area, got lost and ditched in a rough sea in planes not designed to float, and a fuel-laden plane sent to find them exploded and crashed.
Two mysteries surround Flight 19. One is the final resting place of the planes. they are presumably scattered on the seabed somewhere north of the Bahamas. The other mystery is the source of the "strange" messages from Taylor, first reported by Allan W. Eckert in 1962, who apparently cannot remember his source. Charles Berlitz claims that his own source was handwritten notes written by Commander R.H. Wishing at Fort Lauderdale, but Wishing stated in a BBC television documentary that he did not take down notes, and in any case was not even on duty at the time.
- "The Case of the Bermuda Triangle" NOVA/Horizon US airdate June 27, 1976