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The Bermuda Triangle


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The Bermuda Triangle (a.k.a. the Devil's Triangle) is a triangular area inPhoto credit: NASA the Atlantic Ocean bounded roughly at its points by Miami, Bermuda, and Puerto Rico. Legend has it that many people, ships and planes have mysteriously vanished in this area. How many have mysteriously disappeared depends on who is doing the locating and the counting. The size of the triangle varies from 500,000 square miles to three times that size, depending on the imagination of the author. (Some include the Azores, the Gulf of Mexico, and the West Indies in the "triangle.") Some trace the mystery back to the time of Columbus. Even so, estimates range from about 200 to no more than 1,000 incidents in the past 500 years. Howard Rosenberg claims that in 1973 the U.S. Coast Guard answered more than 8,000 distress calls in the area and that  more than 50 ships and 20 planes have gone down in the Bermuda Triangle within the last century.


Many theories have been given to explain the extraordinary mystery of these missing ships and planes. Evil extraterrestrials, residue crystals from Atlantis, evil humans with anti-gravity devices or other weird technologies, and vile vortices from the fourth dimension are favorites among fantasy writers. Strange magnetic fields and oceanic flatulence (methane gas from the bottom of the ocean) are favorites among the technically-minded. Weather (thunderstorms, hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, high waves, currents, etc.) bad luck, pirates, explosive cargoes, incompetent navigators, and other natural and human causes are favorites among skeptical investigators.

There are some skeptics who argue that the facts do not support the legend, that there is no mystery to be solved, and nothing that needs explaining. The number of wrecks in this area is not extraordinary, given its size, location and the amount of traffic it receives. Many of the ships and planes that have been identified as having disappeared mysteriously in the Bermuda Triangle were not in the Bermuda Triangle at all. Investigations to date have not produced scientific evidence of any unusual phenomena involved in the disappearances. Thus, any explanation, including so-called scientific ones in terms of methane gas being released from the ocean floor, magnetic disturbances, etc., are not needed. The real mystery is how the Bermuda Triangle became a mystery at all.

The modern legend of the Bermuda Triangle began soon after five Navy planes [Flight 19] vanished on a training mission during a severe storm in 1945. The most logical theory as to why they vanished is that lead pilot Lt. Charles Taylorís compass failed. The trainees' planes were not equipped with working navigational instruments. The group was disoriented and simply, though tragically, ran out of fuel. No mysterious forces were likely to have been involved other than the mysterious force of gravity on  planes with no fuel. It is true that one of the rescue planes blew up shortly after take-off, but this was likely due to a faulty gas tank rather than to any mysterious forces.

Over the years there have been dozens of articles, books, and television programs promoting the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle. In his study of this material, Larry Kusche found that few did any investigation into the mystery. Rather, they passed on the speculations of their predecessors as if they were passing on the mantle of truth. Of the many uncritical accounts of the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle, perhaps no one has done more to create this myth than Charles Berlitz, who had a bestseller on the subject in 1974. After examining the 400+ page official report of the Navy Board of Investigation of the disappearance of the Navy planes in 1945, Kusche found that the Board wasn't baffled at all by the incident and did not mention alleged radio transmissions cited by Berlitz in his book. According to Kusche, what isn't misinterpreted by Berlitz is fabricated. Kusche writes: "If Berlitz were to report that a boat were red, the chance of it being some other color is almost a certainty." (Berlitz, by the way, did not invent the name; that was done by Vincent Gaddis in "The Deadly Bermuda Triangle," which appeared in the February, 1964, issue of Argosy, a magazine devoted to fiction.)

In short, the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle became a mystery by a kind of communal reinforcement among uncritical authors and a willing mass media to uncritically pass on the speculation that something mysterious is going on in the Atlantic.

Quote
  The Loss Of Flight 19

    At about 2:10 p.m. on the afternoon of 5 December 1945, Flight 19, consisting of five TBM Avenger Torpedo Bombers (manufactured by the Eastern Aircraft under license from Grumman) departed from the U. S. Naval Air Station, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on an authorized advanced overwater navigational training flight. They were to execute navigation problem No. 1, which is as follows: (1) depart 26 degrees 03 minutes north and 80 degrees 07 minutes west and fly 091 degrees (T) distance 56 miles to Hen and Chickens Shoals to conduct low level bombing, after bombing continue on course 091 degrees (T) for 67 miles, (2) fly course 346 degrees (T) distance 73 miles and (3) fly course 241 degrees (T) distance 120 miles, then returning to U. S. Naval Air Station, Fort Lauderdale, Florida.



    In charge of the flight was a senior qualified flight instructor, piloting one of the planes. The other planes were piloted by qualified pilots with between 350 and 400 hours flight time of which at least 55 was in TBM type aircraft. The weather over the area covered by the track of the navigational problem consisted of scattered rain showers with a ceiling of 2500 feet within the showers and unlimited outside the showers, visibility of 6-8 miles in the showers, 10-12 otherwise. Surface winds were 20 knots with gusts to 31 knots. The sea was moderate to rough. The general weather conditions were considered average for training flights of this nature except within showers.

    A radio message intercepted at about 4 p.m. was the first indication that Flight 19 was lost. This message, believed to be between the leader on Flight 19 and another pilot in the same flight, indicated that the instructor was uncertain of his position and the direction of the Florida coast. The aircraft also were experiencing malfunction of their compasses. Attempts to establish communications on the training frequency were unsatisfactory due to interference from Cuba broadcasting stations, static, and atmospheric conditions. All radio contact was lost before the exact nature of the trouble or the location of the flight could be determined. Indications are that the flight became lost somewhere east of the Florida peninsula and was unable to determine a course to return to their base. The flight was never heard from again and no trace of the planes were ever found. It is assumed that they made forced landings at sea, in darkness somewhere east of the Florida peninsula, possibly after running out of gas. It is known that the fuel carried by the aircraft would have been completely exhausted by 8 p.m. The sea in that presumed area was rough and unfavorable for a water landing. It is also possible that some unexpected and unforeseen development of weather conditions may have intervened although there is no evidence of freak storms in the area at the time.

    All available facilities in the immediate area were used in an effort to locate the missing aircraft and help them return to base. These efforts were not successful. No trace of the aircraft was ever found even though an extensive search operation was conducted until the evening of 10 December 1945, when weather conditions deteriorated to the point where further efforts became unduly hazardous. Sufficient aircraft and surface vessels were utilized to satisfactorily cover those areas in which survivors of Flight 19 could be presumed to be located.

    One search aircraft was lost during the operation. A PBM patrol plane which was launched at approximately 7:30 p.m., 5 December 1945, to search for the missing TBM's. This aircraft was never seen nor heard from after take-off. Based upon a report from a merchant ship off Fort Lauderdale which sighted a "burst of flame, apparently an explosion, and passed through on oil slick at a time and place which matched the presumed location of the PBM, it is believed this aircraft exploded at sea and sank at approximately 28.59 N; 80.25 W. No trace of the plane or its crew was ever found.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bermuda_Triangle
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