On December 5th 1945 five Avenger Torpedo Bombers took to the air out of Fort Lauderdale on a routine training exercise.
Flight 19 was only due to be airborne for just over three hours, yet several hours later the five aircraft were nowhere to be seen.
The disappearance of the aircraft resulted in a massive search & rescue operation, and in the years following this tale would fuel a myriad of conspiracy theories regarding the supposed ‘supernatural’ phenomena of the Triangle.
Taking off at 2.10pm the aircraft were scheduled to fly east for 120 miles, north for another 73 miles and finally begin the leg home to Ft. Lauderdale.
Two hours into the routine however the squadron leader, Charles Carroll Taylor – an experienced pilot with over 2,500 hours of flight time – reported that his compass and back-up compass had failed, and that their whereabouts were unknown.
Other pilots in the squadron also began to experience communications malfunctions. Several hours of communication between Flight 19 and radio facilities on land persisted and throughout the pilots appear to have been disorientated and confused.
Finally, at around 6.20pm, a final transmission was heard from Charles Carroll Taylor, apparently ordering his men to prepare to ditch.
Radar stations on land were working tirelessly to pinpoint Flight 19’s position and determined that they may have been somewhere north of the Bahamas. In a peculiar turn of events, a search & rescue Mariner aircraft was dispatched to find the missing Flight 19, but the aircraft and its 13 crewmen were never seen again.
The days following would see one of the largest search and rescue operation on record take place. Hundreds of aircraft and vessels scoured thousands of square miles, but to no avail.
The mystery surrounding the disappearance of both Flight 19 and the Mariner aircraft dispatched to find them fuelled countless theories and conspiracies on what occurs in the Bermuda Triangle.
A treacherous patch of ocean that appears to envelope aircraft and ships alike, leaving no trace. Some speculate the supernatural, others otherworldly influences, while the scientific community has speculated that these occurrences are simply natural, unavoidable events.
The US Navy investigation into the disappearance concluded that Lt. Charles C. Taylor had mistakenly believed that a series of small islands Flight 29 had passed over were the Florida Keys, so his assumption was that to fly North West would take them to Florida.
This was not the case however. Taylor was determined to have passed over the Bahamas as planned, yet flew northeast, taking Flight 19 further into the Atlantic.
The investigation concluded that Taylor was not at fault for the incident as his instruments had failed, and the disappearance of the rescue aircraft was due to an engine explosion – This was based on testimony from a vessel that reported an exploding aircraft.