The Bermuda Triangle, Me and Fate

I’ve tried to distance myself from the topic for quite some time. I found myself overwhelmed, now 18 years ago,  by media when I began to share my 9 years (at that time) of research. No one had seen such material. No one had seen research of this level devoted to a topic that not only ably resided in the “paranormal fringe” but had been debunked and fallen into history. I alone revived it, and I didn’t understand how significant that was.

I had investigated a number of topics, as I continue to do so. I had spent 4 intense years on the Triangle and then after that I was in a position to simply update and add thereto as information came in. When TV discovered me in 2000 I was amazed at the inundation. My website was unchallenged. The media would only come to me. They wouldn’t mess with my facts.

It was satisfying because I had struggled to document impassionately. I wanted to remove the concept of “paranormal” and make this a pursuit of something very tangible– missing ships and planes. Unlike UFOs, Bigfoot, or ghosts, these mysteries are not subjective. These planes and ships really existed and the people in them . . . and they are gone.

Into the Bermuda Triangle was rushed to printing by McGraw-Hill so long ago in 2003. It went into emergency printings after I appeared on Coast 2 Coast. It even got optioned for film at Paramount. But when the dust settled I went on, grateful to be tackling the other topics that sadly reside in the “paranormal” with equal vigor. One book inspired a huge NBC sponsored search and a resolution in Congress. I moved on to True Crime, and those who follow that topic know what I’ve stirred up there. I became the “real life Kolchak”  . . . but the media still came to me for the Triangle, even when I was the center of news in other topics. It grew very frustrating.

In that time information still came in on Triangle incidents, both reports of more missing and of those who had survived unusual encounters. Already in 2011 I projected I would write my much anticipated sequel. But I languished in True Crime. Finally I got to it last year.

Now 14 years after the first book the new one is at the door. It is due out late April or early May. I am expecting a lot of media upcoming in Cold Case, so I don’t know how to feel about the timing of this release. I will be all over radio and TV again, but the typecasting that the media uses will have trouble trying to deal with news announcements over something radically different like Cold Case.

I was sent the semi-final dust jacket cover yesterday for consideration. It opens this blog post. I broke my tradition and even used “I” a few times in the book, but only in the first chapter. I never refer to myself. But a couple of things had to be clarified. So I want to share a little out take here from Bermuda Triangle II. It tells you how I want the topic and my approach viewed:

 

In attempting to dismiss the Triangle’s mystery or at least enigma, it has also been pondered quite out loud why this present writer, who is solely responsible for bringing the subject back to life, is obsessive in never referring to himself in the first person, and why he is not more critical of the theories especially in light of the fact that his other books are noted for investigation and critical analysis. Why, for example here, would he even refer to Ivan Sanderson, an investigator of whom he has been critical? “I” will answer by saying that in this case Sanderson, no matter what his other shortcomings were, may be quite correct, as we will later find out. One simply must give the devil his due.

Of all the topics I have investigated, and about which I have written, none of them have been as complex as this one nor encompass so much. There is a difference between investigating a single event, serial killer, or quotient, and investigating hundreds of mysteries over centuries of time spread over hundreds of thousands of square miles of sea hard to personally investigate. No one attempting to educate can limit data based on personal preference. That is indoctrination and not education. Nor can anyone deprive the devil of his due. I present this subject as a reporter and commentator and not as the critic.

What I cannot solve or dismiss on evidence I must include. Personally I do not care for alien abduction theories and much of what and those who come with them. But that does not mean I can ignore Russian admirals, captains, and numerous other eyewitnesses, to such things as “flying saucers” that seem to make the Bermuda Triangle the center of their activity; nor the statements of credible witnesses, such as Simon Ludgate, whom I personally know, when he reports that at the same time the compasses of both their aircraft froze there were silver discs circling high overhead their aircraft.

The reader must decide to what extent of a role these objects, for they have certainly been seen out there, have played in the litany of missing craft.

The Bermuda Triangle is a tall and wide subject. It is not one man’s theory. It is much more than disappearances. If I can conjure an old Kodachrome image of a Flipper serial, investigators shod in Van tennis shoes facing high seas adventure but with enough mentality to appreciate the chords of ominous music when a derelict boat is found, when a pilot’s panicky voice crackles over the receiver about a weird object, of eyes that brighten with the prospects when they gaze through the kaleidoscope of dancing shallows at a cyclopean edifice, then I have served the subject well.

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Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester or Q Man. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.

The Bermuda Triangle II

So many of those who follow my blog have done so because of my contribution to True Crime and Cold Case. Be that as it may, I still hold my position, perhaps not so coveted, as the “world’s authority” on the Bermuda Triangle. So for those who still follow me for this reason, this post is for you.

YachtI have finally commenced writing my much anticipated sequel to Into the Bermuda Triangle (2003), my first book ever to be published. I had electrified the web for 3 years by this time with hundreds of new cases and fresh research, and McGraw-Hill rushed my book to print. Now, finally, it is time to follow up with much more information, cases and new discoveries in theories. I have cleverly named my sequel “II.”

Well, what do you expect?

In any case, here is a rough-out of the chapter titles.

Chapter 1    The Bermuda Triangle: An Enduring Mystery                  

Chapter 2   A Saga of Disappearing Planes and Lost Ships

Chapter 3   Over a Past Horizon

Chapter 4   “Aircraft Damage and Injury Index Presumed”

Chapter 5   A Triangle of Today

Chapter 6   Is There an Easy Answer?

Chapter 7   Witnesses to a Clue

Chapter 8   Space, Vortices, and Electronic Fog

Chapter 9   Worlds Above; Worlds Beneath

Chapter 10  A Saga of the Earth’s Past

Chapter 11  Electronic Fog: an Answer or a Symptom?

I have finished my second pass on HorrorScope, so that this is the perfect time, while my mind clears of that (so I can take it on again fresh and re-edit), to start on Bermuda Triangle II.

 

 

Up, Up and Away. . . The Mystery of Disappearing Upward

It was Halloween 1991. Radar controllers checked and rechecked what they had just seen. The scope was blank in a spot now. Everywhere else all seemed normal, and routine traffic was proceeding undisturbed, in their vectors, tracked and uninterrupted. But moments earlier radar had been tracking a Grumman Cougar jet over the Gulf of Mexico. The pilot was John Verdi. He and trained co-pilot, Paul Lukaris, were heading toward Tallahassee, Florida.

Just moments before, with a crackle of the mic, Verdi’s voice had come over the receiver at the flight center. He requested a higher altitude. Permission was quickly granted and the turbo jet was observed ascending from 25,000 feet to its new assigned altitude of 29,000 feet. All seemed normal. Some thunderstorms had drifted into the path of the jet, and satellite imagery confirmed the area was overcast.

F9FCougar2

But that was of no concern for Verdi. They were above the weather. At their present altitude they were just breaking out of the cloud cover, emerging into the bright sunlight. The clouds must have been their typical, breathtaking sight, billowing below in glowing white hills and arroyos; they were bright puffy wads of cotton.

They were still ascending. Verdi had not yet rogered reaching his proscribed flight level. F9F

Radar continued to track the cougar. Until, that is, for some unknown reason, while ascending, it simply faded away. Verdi and Lukaris answered no more calls to respond. Furthermore, they had sent no SOS to indicate they had encountered any hint of a problem. Read-outs of the radar observations confirmed the unusual. The Grumman had not been captured on the scope at all as descending or falling to the sea; there had been no sudden loss of altitude. Frankly, it had disappeared from the scope while climbing; they just faded away. One sweep of the scope they were there. The next—raised brows on traffic controllers: it was blank.

The ocean, sitting under convective thunderstorm activity, was naturally not conducive to a search. No trace, if there was any left to find, was ever sifted out of the Gulf. When it was all over, the whole incident was just chalked under a familiar assumption— the Spartan: “aircraft damage and injury index presumed.”

 

One case of mystery like this is enough to start heads shaking, but such an incident does not stand alone. There is also the case of the missing Starfighter just north of Bermuda. Because radar had captured no sign of the aircraft falling to sea, jets screamed up above the cloud layer to search for contrails indicating the missing aircraft had ascended rather than descended.

To this day there has been no explanation for either disappearance.

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Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.

Me, Flight 19 and the Okefenokee Swamp

There’s one good thing about being the father of a very radical and unique theory. Until it catches on, no one wants to touch it. You receive ridicule or dismissal. This is good for only one reason. When it does catch on, there’s no disputing who is the originator of the theory. You can also brag about what you had to go through to pioneer the facts into the public forum. No one wanted to touch me and my theory. Now it is the dominant theory for the fate of the famous “Lost Squadron.” Bits and pieces of the evidence I have uncovered have been liberated by others since then, but they seemed to be used to support some rather shady schemes for search and recovery.

Beginning back in 1992, the standard view was that the 5 TBMs simply went down at sea and left no trace. Any other theory would have hinged on being sucked up into a flying saucer.TBM-color-WWII-icon

But in that year I had uncovered the Flagler Beach report. Four to 6 aircraft had been reported on radar by the USS Solomons where they were not supposed to exist. The time was close to around 7 p.m. How to interpret this? From the winds that prevailed that night, Flagler Beach, Florida, is exactly where Flight 19 should have come into the coast. FT-36, Captain Ed Powers plane, didn’t have IFF aboard, so it would have been hard for the Solomons radar operator to determine the actual number of planes from skin returns alone.

Even later that night ATC (Air Transport Command) in Brunswick and Jacksonville were picking up 5 planes near the Okefenokee Swamp in southern Georgia. They were planes for which the commands had no record. In other words, they were not scheduled flights. Moreover, they were planes that did not answer any calls. Only Flight 19, limited to its training frequency (it was good only around Fort Lauderdale), would be unable to hear hails from the bases or be able to contact them.

Thereafter the flight vanished. It never landed. It was never picked up on radar by any other base south of Jacksonville. It was last reported just east of the Okefenokee in southern Georgia.

I detail the entire event in They Flew into Oblivion. Suffice it to say here that with the fuel remaining, there could be little other option but that Flight 19 went down in the 660 square mile peat bog known as the Okefenokee Swamp.

Wilderness

Not only are the conditions inside the swamp not naturally conducive to a search this long after the fact, the entire area is a protected Federal Reserve. No trespassing allowed.  . . except in designated areas.

I went to these designated areas. They amount to about 2% of the swamp, but this is a huge area nevertheless.  I’ve been asked what happened to my Triangle site. I just recently let Bermuda-triangle.org go down. After 18 years it was time to move on and consolidate at The Quester Files. I will, however, put up my Okefenokee Swamp picture page on the Quester site. It is my theory after all, and it is the Number 1 theory out there for the fate of the “Lost Patrol.”

It took about 10 years, two TV documentaries, my website and a published book, to finally give ascent to my theory on the fate of Flight 19. But the struggle has been worth it. They Flew into Oblivion to date is my most honored book. It inspired a Resolution in Congress in 2005, and it continues to garner praise and attention.

It’s an odd place, the Okefenokee. It’s a land that time forgot.  The path of Flight 19 to this other world is fraught with irony, tragedy and drama. Nothing can be more ironic than that the famous flight that launched our interest in the Bermuda Triangle actually vanished in a Federal Reserve in southern Georgia, far outside of the Triangle.

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Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.

The Mystery of the Martin Mariner

On the night of December 5, 1945, while Flight 19 was still in the air, 3 PBM Martin Mariner “flying gastanks” were in the air trying to find it. They were also called “dumbo” because of their ungainly appearance. The antenna on Miami’s dumbo had frozen over that dark night and therefore they were useless in the search. Training 32, Gerald Brammerlin’s dumbo, was headed straight out to sea, and he and his crew would be true heroes that night.  Training 49, however, which had launched with Brammerlin at Banana River by Cape Canaveral, would vanish. No trace was ever found. It would become part of the mystery of the disappearance of the “Lost Squadron.”

In fact, the loss of the Martin Mariner dumbo that night heightened the mystery. It made for a total of 6 aircraft and altogether 27 men who vanished that night (the Martin Mariner carried 13 men).  No wonder that this night and these events became the cornerstone of the Bermuda Triangle enigma. pbm3-1

Frustrated by being thwarted in my search for Flight 19 in the Okefenokee Swamp, I turned to the Mariner. I thought it was a sitting duck. It had been observed to vanish from radar that night. It wasn’t long after it had taken off. It was still close to the coast, north of Banana River. In the general vicinity there was a freighter, the s.s. Gaines Mill. She sent in a message that an aircraft exploded overhead and crashed into the sea. She also sent her position by latitude and longitude. It was in the report, of course. That made it fairly easy to go look for . . . if there was money.

Fortunately, the Triangle was quite the rage because of my website and then my book (Into the Bermuda Triangle) published by McGraw Hill in 2003. It was the first in 25 years on the Triangle, a subject that had long been in the deep freeze. Since my now defunct site (bermud-triangle.org) in 1999 I had electrified the web and all of documentary and reality TV.  Producers were frequently asking me for plots.  When in 2005 NBC wanted to do a special 2 hour documentary on Flight 19, based on my MS of They Flew into Oblivion, I told them of the Mariner. The Exec. Producer, John Schriber, loved the idea; so did Larry Landsmann, the special project’s director.

Together they were able to fund David Bright (of Titanic fame) and two ships with cameras to do a week long 5 mile grid search. Finding a trace of it would be big news. NBC knew they couldn’t wait to announce it for the documentary. It would go over the newswires and this could be used as a promo for the upcoming documentary.

e63195904ba2e105_large

During that week we waited. Excitement was noticeable in all the producers’ voices as they called and updated me. Time was running out by the last day. Nothing. David Bright figured it was further north. On the last day he went north. The week was over and not a trace was found.

I was shocked. The water was only 74 feet deep. A professional diver could reach it on a straight dive. Yet there was nothing. Cameras had picked up nothing suspicious.

Years later in 2010 I told producer Bruce Burgess about it. He too funded another search with a local diver. Mike Barnette, and cameras. They found nothing as well.

engine closeup
This engine was found, but it was too far away and wasn’t the kind that a PBM would mount.

How could a big aircraft like this, which vanished not far off the coast of Florida, in only 74 feet of water, totally vanish on the bottom as well?

The easiest answer was that the Gaines Mill had been wrong or the real coordinates were mistyped in the report.  The other answer is that there just isn’t much left. What’s there has sunk beneath the bottom sands.

The PBM Mariner is still there somewhere in the general vicinity. It must be! But beginning 10 years ago I failed to locate one of the most famous missing aircraft in the Triangle, and it should have been a wreck that was fairly easy to locate. Six years ago I failed again. I was thwarted in the Okefenokee Swamp by law. But the sea is open territory, and even with two networks over a period of several years, the Triangle has not yielded the one approachable mystery that it should have.

 

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Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.

The Bermuda Triangle– the Mystery of the Deserted Lighthouse

To my knowledge there has only been one instance before this when all the lighthouse keepers have vanished from their post and island, leaving behind them the mystery of a deserted lighthouse. This was the famous disappearance off Scotland of the three lighthouse keepers at Eilean Mor in the Flannan Islands. There was evidence there, though, that the three lighthouse keepers had put on their oilskins and ventured out into a storm. To do what on the lonely island, we do not know. But in December 1900 when the relief boat came, they found a mystery but they found clues to suggest the men were all outside in a storm. The seas of the Flannan Islands in the Outer Hebrides are wild seas at the best of time. During a storm, the sea is a giant monster and each wave a potential tentacle that could lash onto the land and drag off a man to the deep.

The Grand Bahama Banks, August 1969, are a little bit different. Ivan Majors and B. Mollings, the lighthouse keepers on Great Isaac’s Rock, an island north of Bimini had  shallow seas around them. They had tropical weather, and they had radio. Yet to this day their joint disappearances remain mysterious. When relief came to the little spit of an island, the lighthouse was abandoned.

Bimini-GIR
Great Isaac’s Rock is the little dash of land at the top of the picture.

 

There is much speculation but no concrete answer. To my knowledge there really isn’t much information in place to backwork what the two keepers had been doing that day. There isn’t much to say what they took either, if anything. All we know is that the lighthouse was abandoned and no trace of the two was ever found again.

One theory was that some drug transaction went down or it was an intentional disappearance. Theory comes easy, however, but without much information behind it theory doesn’t really take form. This may  be one reason why this unusual disappearance is not more often discussed. By contrast, the deserted lighthouse of Eilean Mor is a staple in the annals of the mysteries of the sea.

TN_Bimini2003-0279
Forlorn and abandoned to this day– this photo by a visitor in 2003. 

 

Very few, unfortunately, know of the Mystery of Great Isaac’s Rock, as it is known. Because it occurred in the Bermuda Triangle, it has inspired fantastic theories. Alien abduction is one of the more popular. In a technical sense they didn’t disappear at sea. Electronic Fog could not have seized them. Nor time warps or ancient space warping rays from ancient and submerged Atlantis. This only seems to leave “aliens.”

It has even been said that a local well known diver, Bruce Mournier, saw two underwater UFOs in the vicinity heading out to sea. This is proffered in order to corroborate the idea of alien abduction. In actuality Mournier was recorded while recounting his experience and, though it is an odd sighting, it doesn’t really jive with anything to do with the lighthouse keepers on Great Isaac’s Rock. He specifically said:

“There’s two underwater UFOS or two things you never seen before. They’ve been buzzing alongside the boat and now they’re off the front kinda heading from south to north. So I looked out. I seen these two things. I guess they’re about 60 feet apart. They’re buzzing along in formation. They’re egg shape, they’re round, more or less egg shape/ round; I guess bout 40 or 50 feet in diameter, and the same distance long, a little bit to the egg shape side. And I follow them [visually] for about, oh, I don’t know how long. I just watched and tried to figure out what it was. I couldn’t believe my eyes. They looked like they were really moving out faster the further they got away. It looked like they were about 40 feet underwater— maybe 20 feet, 40 feet. It’s out in the crystal clear Gulf Steam. They kept on going off. As they faded away, I don’t know if they faded off in the distance or whether they made a dive down or what but they were gone.”Mournier

A strange encounter in the Triangle. Others have reported such phenomena as USOs.  But neither Bruce nor any contemporary linked them to the missing lighthouse keepers.

The Bermuda Triangle and its theories, though tantalizing, blinds us to the mystery. Great Isaac’s Rock was truly found deserted on August 4, 1969. The two lighthouse keepers have never been found again, and there is too little information out there to put back a detailed recreation of what must have happened. We need clues. We need many more clues.

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Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress. 

Oh, Gas– a Deadly Triangle

Inanity never seems to die. As I move my Bermuda Triangle material to The Quester Files, I am in the throes of deciding what to keep up and what is dated and needs to be rewritten or canned. Obviously,  I am going to have to keep this page in the theories section. The recent news glut on methane hydrates off Norway is old cabbage. I heard of it decades ago. I heard of such craters off Scotland somewhere where there’s supposed to be one where there is a sunken ship in the center of one of these craters indicating that when the methane erupted it took down the vessel.

The theory of methane hydrates causing ships to vanish in the Bermuda Triangle must rate as one of the most impromptu ideas conceived. Although Dr. Ben Clennell, of Leeds University, England,  is not the first to make note of the possibility of methane hydrates as a source for causing ships to disappear, he has become identified with the theory which, on September 21, 1998, at the Festival of Earth Sciences at Cardiff, Wales, he proposed methane hydrates as the future of  energy.

As a part of his elaborate dissertation he claimed that methane locked below the sea sediments in the Bermuda Triangle can explain the mysterious disappearances. He told how subterranean landslides can unlock the vast beds of methane hydrate. This would be disastrous, he told the audience, because large amounts of methane would reduce the density of the water. “This would make any ship floating above sink like a rock.” He went on to explain how the highly combustible gas could also ignite aircraft engines and blow them to pieces.

This theory was promoted in a semi-serious way by the press at first, but it later came to be dubbed the “Ocean Flatulence Theory,” and in some quarters earned its vociferous proponent the unenviable and humorous nickname of “Dr. Flatus.”

Methaneart

The theory is lacking for several reasons. One, the Bermuda Triangle is not the area of largest concentration of methane hydrates in the world. There are a lot off the Carolinas which, if this is in the Triangle, it depends on your own particular shape for the area. Two, the majority of ships and planes have not disappeared over this section of the “Triangle.” Three, a number of drilling rigs have in fact accidentally bored into beds of methane hydrates and slowly succumbed to the less dense water, sinking to the bottom. However, none of this was so fast that they could not signal their problem, and on a number of occasions news helicopters circling overhead captured every moment on film— but none of the choppers blew to pieces.

There are others in geology who stress that a natural eruption would be so rare it might happen only once every 400 years. They also remind us that the methane has to go through thousands of feet of sediment, thousands of feet of ocean, before it breaks the surface. The chances of a ship being over the precise spot is mathematically astronomical. And it is obvious that no planes are affected by this.

The theory gained circulation probably because it was something new, and because both the public and Dr. Clennell had a complete ignorance where most planes and ships  disappeared in the Triangle. Such a rare occurrence cannot account for the hundreds of losses over the last centuries, nor explain any aircraft disappearances. It also cannot explain those that vanished over the Bahamas, where the water depths are only 50 feet or so deep, not 1,000 feet. During his dissertation, Dr. Clennell admitted that he discovered large beds of methane on the coast line “near the Bermuda Triangle”  which is itself enough rebuttal. Near may matter in horseshoes and hand grenades, but not for ships and planes.

This cold gas is all hot air.

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Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.