6 US Navy aircraft suddenly vanished near the Bermuda Triangle- After a search, none of the 14 brave men were ever found

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On Dec. 5, 1945, Flight 19 began a routine navigational training flight. Flight 19 was comprised of five TBM Avenger torpedo bombers. Lieutenant Charles C. Taylor led the flight. A seasoned naval aviator, Taylor had over 2,500 flying hours and several WWII combat tours in the Pacific. [i]

Flight 19 was supposed to execute Navigation Problem No. 1 for their training exercise. The plan was to fly from the eastern US coast to Hens and Chickens Shoals to conduct bombing runs. Then, Flight 19 was to fly north over Grand Bahama Island, then back down to NASFL. The bombers successfully executed the first leg of the flight but ran into trouble as they turned north. [ii]

Taylor, sounding worried and confused, radioed the flight tower and said,

I don't know where we are. We must have got lost after that last turn. Both my compasses are out and I'm trying to find Ft. Lauderdale. We can't tell where we are...everything is...can't make out anything. We think we may be about 225 miles northeast of base. It looks like we are entering white water... We're completely lost." [iii]

For unknown reasons, Taylor "became convinced that his Avenger's compass was malfunctioning and that his planes had been flying in the wrong direction." Rather than flying west toward the mainland, Taylor, who was disoriented, instructed Flight 19 to continue in a northeasterly direction, even further out to sea. Believing he may be over the Gulf of Mexico, he steered northeast, attempting to locate the FL peninsula. [iv]

The red triangle illustrates Flight 19's planned route. The yellow point is the exercise bombing. The yellow circle is where it vanished.Photo byNASA Landsat Image/Marikanto/Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

Radio transmissions slowly dissipated until falling completely silent. Final words from Taylor could be heard as he prepared his men for a possible crash landing saying, "All planes close up tight. We'll have to ditch unless landfall. When the first plane drops below ten gallons, we all go down together." [v]

After five days of searching, dispatching over 300 boats and aircraft, and combing through over 300,000 square miles of territory, no wreckage or remains were located. Navy Lieutenant David White recalls,

They just vanished. We had hundreds of planes out looking, and we searched over land and water for days, and nobody ever found the bodies or any debris. [vi]
A map of the Bermuda Triangle.Photo byPublic Domain/Wikimedia Commons

George Sand published an article in 1952, Sea Mystery at Our Back Door, first laying out the triangular area, birthing the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle. [vii]

Immediately upon the report of the missing aircraft, the Navy dispatched two PBM Mariner flying boats to hunt for Flight 19. In just 20 minutes, one of the two PBM Mariners suddenly vanished from the radar. The 13 crewmen and remains of the Mariner were never recovered either. [viii]

Read Sea Mystery at Our Back Door here.

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[i] Naval History and Heritage Command, The Loss of Flight 19 (2022)

[ii] NASFL Museum, The Mystery of Flight 19 (2022)

[iii] Evan Andrews, The Mysterious Disappearance of Flight 19 (Sep. 1, 2018)

[iv] Id.

[v] Id.

[vi] Naval History and Heritage Command, The Loss of Flight 19 (2022)

[vii] George X. Sand, Sea Mystery at Our Back Door (Oct. 1952)

[viii] Evan Andrews, The Mysterious Disappearance of Flight 19 (Sep. 1, 2018)

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