Aviation Mysteries: 10 Strangest Aircraft Disappearances in History

3. Flight 19, Bermuda Triangle

flight-19-mystery-bermuda-triangle (Image: Anynobody, cc-sa-3.0)

Flight 19 is one of the most legendary of all aircraft disappearances, and one that gave credence to the mythology of the Bermuda Triangle.

While none of the five missing planes have ever been found, it’s pretty well accepted that we know what happened to them, if not where they ended up. On December 5, 1945, five TBM Avenger Torpedo Bombers headed out from the US Naval Air Station in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on a training mission. Orders included executing a series of maneuvers, then carrying out a practice bombing run on Hen and Chickens Shoals, then returning to the base.

Among the pilots was a senior qualified flight instructor, with other pilots all having logged time in that type of aircraft. Weather was average, with no more than scattered showers and mild winds – nothing that would have caused catastrophic problems.

By 4 p.m., a radio message between pilots was intercepted; it indicated the flight instructor was unsure of where they were, and which direction the coast was in. It was assumed that they had made their way farther to the southeast than they should have been, but no cause for the misdirection was ever indicated in any other transmissions.

pbm-mariner-bermuda-triangle (Image: via Wikipedia, public domain)

The aircraft, which only had enough fuel to last them until 8 p.m., would have been forced down over the ocean. While there were no records of storms in the area, no traces of the flight were ever found, even though there were other aircraft and ships sent to search for the missing group. One of the rescue planes – a patrol plane that left Fort Lauderdale at 7:30 p.m. on December 5 – also went missing. Not long after takeoff, the plane was sighted by a merchant ship, along with what was described as a “burst of flame”. In spite of efforts from the Army, Navy and Coast Guard, no trace of either Flight 19 or of the missing rescue craft was ever found.


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About the author: Debra Kelly




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