Until this web site went up in March 1999 and the publication of my book Into the Bermuda Triangle in 2003, the general reader had had no information on anything happening since the mid-1970s, whether cases or theories. In that period a person’s view of the Triangle had largely been shaped by a 1975 book in reprint called The Bermuda Triangle Mystery— Solved by Larry Kusche. This article is intended as a critical review of his research methods and the “facts” by which he came to his solution.
There are a number of reasons why Kusche’s book remains with us today. Chiefly, its due to the book’s grandiose title and the timing of its original release. In November 1974 a surprise book came out on the Bermuda Triangle by noted linguist Charles Berlitz— The Bermuda Triangle: an incredible saga of unexplained disappearances. It took the world by storm and sold over 5,000,000 copies in hardback. Kusche’s book actually could not address anything in Berlitz’s bestseller since it was written in advance of Berlitz’s book and delayed for one reason or another. It was generally written to counter the information in magazine articles and in a couple of paperbacks prior to that time, such as John Spencer’s Limbo of the Lost or Richard Winer’s Devil’s Triangle. However, Berlitz’s success made a book with the title “Solved” a guaranteed hit, and it seems Kusche’s publisher Harper & Row knew that.
One can’t begrudge the S&M people and their ways. They were only doing their jobs. But it is for the serious reader to put substance in context, and this we must do here. It is ironic, indeed, that such a book was reprinted in the mid 1990s, as nothing serious had been written on the subject since the late 1970s. It may have been because Berlitz’s bestseller was also reissued in the early ’90s, also without any updates. Thus the ’90s were witness to a rehash of a 20 year old controversy, yet sans the hype that gave greater body and poignancy to both. Their reissuing was, perhaps, a reflection of renewed interest in the subject, but their sales reflected the dated nature of much of their material.
The greatest weakness with Kusche’s book is that it wasn’t designed in substance to solve anything. It was laid out as a critique on cases that were a part of the popular discourse on the Triangle, but it was not an investigative work on the actual subject. My database search with the National Transportation Safety Board reveals that between 1964 and 1974 about 40 aircraft vanished in the region. Yet these were unknown to the writers of the time because they only browsed newspaper articles, and most of these were never reported. This too creates Kusche’s weak heel. He too doesn’t know about them. His work is merely a reaction to what was in the popular forum of the Triangle. If he solved anything, he merely showed a few incidents should not have been included in the litany. Yet actual research shows that for every ship or plane he could remove from the popular list 10 to 20 more could be found to replace it from the actual records of investigating bureaus. Thus his book is a narrow response and very dated to the 1970s.
Aside from a few topical chapters, Kusche’s book is divided by incidents. Each incident is first presented according to the “legend,” that is, as Kusche explains, as the account is commonly found in the popular press. This is followed by Kusche’s account of the “true facts” of the incident as it is recorded in the sources he presents. From the title of the book, the prospective reader assumes his evidence will refute any claim there could be anything unusual or extraordinary in the disappearances.
However, Kusche’s rendition of the “Legend” is sometimes so dull that it seems little worth refuting. A case in point: “In 1866 the Lotta, a Swedish bark bound from Goteborg for Havana, vanished somewhere north of Haiti.” He then admits he could find no sources. This is actually what is the most inadequate thing about Kusche’s book. He is presenting the “Legend” and then if he finds no sources he implies the incident was made up. If he finds the actual vessel did exist but then finds error between a old newspaper account of it and what modern writers say, he implies they are sensationalists. Kusche makes his first chapter a montage of the “Legend of the Bermuda Triangle,” as he calls it, so that the reader, if he has not read any other book, will know what the “sensationalists” wrote.
On top of this when he did find sources, usually newspaper articles, he stopped looking if that source somehow muddied the water of the legend. Yet had he dug any deeper he would have realized how inaccurate newspaper accounts were. He claims he found more ships that vanished outside of the Triangle (but does not name any), but seems ignorant of at least 100 disappearances within the Triangle. This is outright hard to believe. Commander Sigsbee’s work Wrecks and Derelicts of the North Atlantic, is now republished and this brings to light 1,628 derelicts over only a 7 year period 1887 through 1893, that must be investigated. Long before the name or concept of the Bermuda Triangle was ever used, Sigsbee noted that most deserted vessels were found off the South East coast of the United States, the area of the Triangle today. Literally tens of thousands must chock the dusty annals of the 19th century shipping registers that await investigating.
The next chapter “Christopher Columbus, the Sargasso Sea, and the Bermuda Triangle” is a disaster. But I do not blame Kusche. Until 1989 there was no quality English translation of the Diario of Columbus, which had been compiled shortly after Columbus’ death by a Columbus family friend, Brother Bartholomew de Las Casas. Kusche’s entire chapter is based upon faulty information of what many believe Columbus reported on his first voyage, like Washington Irving’s very old account, leading him into speculating on pure inaccuracy. He writes that Columbus noted, starting on September 13, that the compass needle did not point to the North Star, then adds: “He watched the variation increase for the next few days, knowing that the crew would be alarmed should they learn of the new development.” This is not true at all, but it does seem to make it easier to introduce the idea of plain old magnetic variation. The relevant points of Columbus’ log, as translated, can be found on this site, and should be consulted. The magnetic changes were erratic and did not increase, but were noted off and on for weeks. Interestingly, they did not happen while in the Bahamas or on the voyage back, as there is no entry of them. Kusche said that the unexplained light seen on the eve of discovery of the New World could not be explained, but “The most commonly accepted theory is that it was an illusion caused by extreme strain and wishful thinking.” He does not seem to know that more than one man saw it.
Kusche provides only 57 cases, beginning in 1840. Let us look at them.
1840, Rosalie, found derelict near Nassau.
Kusche could not determine if this was the ship Rossini which he found in Nassau records or not. Rossini was a very non mystery that ran aground at Cuba and was towed to Nassau. The description of her does not fit the detailed description of the Rosalie as contained in the London Times. The dispatches do appear to be mixed up. The Rosalie appears to be a French ship en route to New Orleans, and it was pulled into Havana derelict on Sept. 5. She is listed in the British Maritime Museum as launched in “October 1838, of 222 tons wood,” fitting the description of the London Times reporter when he said she was recently built. Assuming that Rossini and Rosalie are the same, Kusche is still not certain. He concludes, “As the situation now stands, there is reasonable doubt that the Rosalie incident is a mystery, but there is no proof one way or the other.” Not the best way to start a book with “Solved” on the cover.
Bella, 1854, missing in the Triangle.
Kusche exposes that the Bella did not disappear in the Triangle, which is quite true. She disappeared off Brazil, south of the Equator, and even had a survivor, Roger Tichborne. But that case is a book in itself, and can be found in Harold Wilkins 1959 book Strange Mysteries of Time and Space. However, Bella was never mentioned as being a Triangle victim, except perhaps in a paperback by Adi-Kent Thomas Jeffery. Mentioning the case is not even a reflection of the majority of articles written on the Triangle.
Mary Celeste, 1872.
No one ever mentioned the Mary Celeste as disappearing in the Triangle. All usually mentioned her because it seemed appropriate to mention the “greatest mystery of the sea.” Kusche does so for the same reason, but cannot solve this one either. His account, though not inaccurate, is based on some books and the New York Times. The reader will enjoy getting all that is kept on this incident at the National Archives, which is far better than his sources.
Atalanta, 1880, Bermuda to Falmouth . . .
. . .is one of the few incidents included from the 19th century since most Triangle writers devoted very little to old ships. Kusche makes note that the name is often misspelled (He seems to do that often, finding vessels misnamed by a letter or so). Such a kernel may have relevance, but its profundity escaped most. Heavy weather may have contributed to the vessel disappearing. Kusche reproduces pages of London Times excerpts from other ships reporting weather and even possibly some spars or other wreckage, though none was ever identified with Atalanta. He overlooks the fact that these other ships did not succumb to the storms. “The ship may have been lost far from the Bermuda Triangle, as only about 500 miles of its 3,000 mile journey was through it. Yet it is counted as a victim of the Triangle.” Well, using that logic it also could have vanished in the Triangle. A tragic case, it nevertheless had rarely more than a couple of sentences devoted to it.
Ellen Austin and the Derelict, 1881.
Kusche could find no sources for this whatsoever due to the fact he merely tried to get copies of old newspapers of the time. However, he said that Lloyd’s also had no information . . .although they had no trouble finding mention of the vessel for me. Although the incident is not mentioned, Lloyd’s gave a clue as to why: the name had been changed in 1881 to Meta. Since there were 18 entries for ships named Meta they were not able to check on every one. Until the Ellen Austin source information would be found, Kusche believed the case would remain a mystery. “It may remain a mystery even after the source is discovered.” Another not so reassuring solution.
Ed. There may be truth to the old story of the Ellen Austin indeed. In 1873 the Abd-El Kader came across 2 derelicts while sailing to Boston from Europe. The first was the Robert C. Winthrop. They left the vessel behind because a squall was arising. Then later the Kader came across the Kate Brigham, deserted off the east coast of the US.
Lotta, Viego, Miramon, 1866, 1868, 1884
These 3 ships are allotted one paragraph on one page, probably more than was ever devoted to them in any other book. Kusche writes: “These are incidents for which, despite extensive research, I was unable to find any information.”
Freya, 1902, derelict
Here Kusche exposes that the ship was found in the Pacific, after having left Manzanillo, Mexico, not Manzanillo, Cuba. Gaddis seems to be the first to make this mistake. Morris Jessup in his 1955 book The Case for the UFO mentions it correctly as in the Pacific. Kusche exposed a 10 year old mistake, but it was necessary to set the record straight. . .though he could not explain why it was deserted.
Ed. Among the 1,628 derelicts the republication of Sigsbee’s 1894 work Wrecks and Derelicts of the North Atlantic has brought back to life is another ship Freya in 1889, first sighted near Bermuda. It is only 1 now of over 1,000 that I must investigate.
Joshua Slocum and the Spray, disappeared 1909
The great first solo circumnavigator of the world disappeared after leaving Miami in 1909 on a solo cruise of the Caribbean. Kusche concludes: “The fate of Joshua Slocum and the Spray is truly a mystery of the sea.”
Kusche is all over the place concerning this great mystery, but seems completely ignorant of the sobering records extant at the National Archives. As such he seems to credit Conrad Nervig’s story, though the officer list at the NARA shows no Nervig. (I was able to discover that Nervig was only a passenger on board). But we are now coming to some of the most famous mysteries of the Bermuda Triangle. Kusche seems to feel the pressure to solve one categorically. In doing so, he makes one comment that could make Ripley sit up and blink. “I confidently decided that the newspapers, the Navy, and all the ships at sea had been wrong, and that there had been a storm near Norfolk that day strong enough to sink the ship.” On top of this, he writes: “Contrary to popular opinion, there never was an official inquiry into the disappearance . . . Had there been any investigation, the weather information would surely have been discovered.”
The Cyclops is perhaps the most investigated case of the US Navy, lasting some 10 years. Anything being reported was to be directed to ONI even this long afterward. There was no storm. Well, yes, there was a gale off the Carolinas on the 10th of March. It got widespread news coverage and even Captain Worley’s wife, Selma, was sure it caused the ship to sink. The rub is that estimating the Cyclops’ position by its known speed it can be proved that it was no where near the Carolinas on that date. The original weather logs are even in the documentation, which amounts to 1,500 pages in boxes 1068-1070 at the Modern Military Branch at the NARA. The boxes even contain the affidavit of Charles Hillyer, captain of the Amalco, stating how bad the weather was but refuting the rumor that they sighted the Cyclops. For Kusche not to have discovered that the storm was actually a big deal at the time calls into question just what research he really did. Even more peculiar is that in Kusche’s bibliography he makes note of very select records there, but not to all the documentation available. Certainly “research” required examining it all, especially NARA records? The Cyclops remains, as the Navy calls it, “the greatest mystery in the annals of the Navy,” though Kusche feels “the missing missing part of the puzzle, a substantial reason for the disappearance, has finally been found— the overlooked storm of March 10.” His “storm” is the only thing missing. (The Cyclops was not even due until March 13 at Baltimore. Kusche never even mentions an ETA date in his whole recital.) The Cyclops could not have been near the storm.
Carroll A. Deering, derelict, 1921
This is truly a unique incident. There is no evidence for what had happened to the crew. Anybody can make out of it what they want. I am grateful to one of Carroll A. Deering’s descendants for the pictures he lent my site for my article on it. My article is based again on NARA records. Well, let’s get to Kusche’s solution. He would seem to agree. He writes: “The story of the Carroll A. Deering is unique in maritime history, and it can truly be said that the more that is learned about it, the more mysterious it becomes.” Solved?
Raifuku Maru, 1924 . . .
. . .is another triumph of noting the ship is often misspelled. Kusche does show that it disappeared too far north of the Triangle, in the presence of storm and another ship. Exit Raifuku Maru.
Kusche believes a gale can account for it. Cotopaxi signaled tersely she was listing with water in her hold on December 1 but, as Lloyd’s notes, did not send a mayday. She was not heard from again. No trace was found. Kusche resorts to a newspaper article from Jacksonville, saying it is a “clue to the reasons for the ship’s trouble.” This clue is, of course, obscure. It states that the west coast of Florida was in the grip of a storm, while the east coast (where Cotopaxi was sailing) had hauled down all storm warnings and weather was returning to normal. This was the day Cotopaxi signaled her distress, not during the storm. Kusche is not to blame, but he relies too heavily on newspaper articles and reporters who use eye catching adjectives like “grip” and offer land based weather observers reports of the storm as “Phenomenal.” The Cotopaxi is even in the NARA records. No phenomenal storm is mentioned.
Suduffco might have been sailing in bad weather along the coast, according to more adjectives in the New York Times. The only witness information offered is by the captain of another ship, who said it was the worst weather “I’ve ever seen” presupposing he’s seen a lot of foul weather. These kind of newspaper reports crop up a lot and often they quote inaccurately. However, Suduffco, an incident to which no more than a sentence has ever been devoted, may too be removed from the Litany if you like, though no one knows where she vanished and when along her long course to Panama.
Stavenger, 1934, near Cat Island, Bahamas.
Kusche could find nothing on this Norwegian ship, probably because the accounts were confused. Stavenger is a Norwegian reporting base for maritime information. Stavenger was no doubt reporting on a ship’s disappearance or some such thing and some writer confused it with the name of the ship. The name may one day be found, but so far I have not been motivated by this obscure incident to find it.
John & Mary, auxiliary fishing schooner, derelict 1932 . . .
. . .was mentioned in a couple of books in passing. Those authors that mentioned the case (not all did) Kusche points out were unaware that the crew had been picked up. Another can be removed, though only a couple had ever entered it into the litany to begin with.
La Dahama, derelict, 1935 . . .
. . .was never mentioned as a great mystery ship of the Triangle per se. Berlitz says it was frequently mentioned, but he was more interested in why the ship “rose” after having been sunk. Kusche points out that the ship was not sunk but left in a sinking condition. The La Dahama drifted in the Gulf Stream after the crew left it (picked up by the Rex) until it was found by the Aztec. Kusche’s maps often show a vessel or plane slightly further out from the Triangle than they really were. By the scale of the map, the La Dahama is placed almost half way to the Azores, far more than 700 miles away. She wasn’t much of a mystery, Kusche is right about that.
Gloria Colita, derelict 1940
Kusche’s greatest contribution to this mystery is to note that the name is Colita not Colite. He assumes the vessel was abandoned from storm, even though the crew knew the wood schooner was carrying a lumber cargo and therefore incapable of sinking. The condition of the Colita indicates she may have been abandoned before this, stopped in mid rigging. But the purpose of the book is to solve, not consider. The squall that set in is blamed for causing the men to abandon ship and disappear. Kusche’s meticulous source is the Times Picayune of New Orleans. The report of S. Halvorsen, the captain of the Coast Guard boat that discovered the vessel and hauled her in, is still at the NARA along with the first pictures of her, and it is a far better source.
Ed. The Colita was not the first lumber carrier found derelict and adrift. The Drisko is another example, off Key West. For some reason crews have indeed lost their heads and fled ships that could not sink.
Proteus & Nereus, 1941
Both of these big colliers (sister ships of the Cyclops) disappeared in the Caribbean area. The Navy assumed U-boats could have been responsible. So did Kusche.
Rubicon, derelict 1944
Kusche does indeed do a good job here. All he had to do was read an old New York Times, where it states the vessel broke its moorings in Havana while the crew was ashore.
Flight 19, 1945,
Flight 19 is too dizzying to be covered here. Kusche does an admirable job of listing the dialogue, though he misses some of it. His analytical inhibitions come to a head in his 2nd book, The Disappearance of Flight 19, and he overlooked numerous controversies in order to place a simple blame on the loss. This was finally put into context by the release of my book They Flew into Oblivion (2010)
But we enter now upon more modern times. Indeed, Flight 19’s disappearance is what truly directed public attention to this sea off the US east coast. It seems appropriate here to mention cases that Kusche never knew about. More than anything the number of those missing aircraft he avoids (or is ignorant of) places in context the extent of his research. Follow this link to the missing aircraft page.
City Belle, 1946, derelict, Bahamas.
City Belle is confusing and the Lloyd’s report doesn’t clear it up, but lets it drop after claiming but not entirely confirming survivors were found and taken to a base.
Kusche could find nothing on the case, but offers an explanation anyway based on the erroneous “legend.” He debunked a non existent flight in the wrong area. The plane was a C-54 hundreds of miles from the spot that disappeared in circumstances different than he relates and solves. Bad goof.
Star Tiger, 1948
This is one incident where Kusche really does get authoritative source material, namely the report. All this merely makes him conclude that “whatever happened to the Star Tiger will forever remain a mystery.”
Al Snyder, 1948,
Kusche defers to another “gale” as an answer to why three fishermen disappeared from their yacht, though they disappeared before the exaggerated gale (Kusche did not exaggerate the gale, but the reporter sought some explanation in the newspaper article he relies on). Evidence that one of the men tried to lash himself down, and a motor pushed overboard, smell of something beside storm.
Kusche tried hard to solve this most famous of Triangle mysteries, but does not come close. He does not offer a solution (which, as is becoming painfully aware, is all too common), but his evidence for a simple solution requires that the plane could have lost its radio and navigational equipment at the same time, that the pilots never got the wind change report and did not obtain an astral fix of their position and therefore got lost and ran out of gas and left no trace. In typical form he concludes: “The exact cause of the loss will never be known, but there are several important factors in the case that are never mentioned in the Legend.” —for a very good reason.
Star Ariel, 1949
The inability to remotely account for this incident leaves Kusche to quibble on the ineffectiveness of the search. He believes it possible that the plane could have disappeared anywhere on its course after its last signal, but overlooks it was to make contact right afterward with Nassau or Kingston. The plane was, in fact, lost suddenly without explanation.
Kusche finds a Globemaster that crashed in 1951 and assumes it is what the “Legend” is talking about. It does appear to be the same. Gaddis made the error in his book Invisible Horizons, stating in a terse sentence that a Globemaster vanished en route to Ireland. However, since Kusche was only countering that which was in public knowledge, he is unaware of the dozen or so military aircraft that vanished within this time period. Kusche accurately states it disappeared near Ireland, too far north of the Triangle.
Kusche discovered that there was rainfall and lightning off Florida at the time, and assumes this can account for the Sandra’s disappearance. Although he likes to quibble in some cases that a plane or ship might have been far away from a placid spot on its course, he often doesn’t realize that the Sandra could have disappeared anywhere along its course south to Porto Cabello, Venezuela, far from a stormy spot. He does expose a mistake in its cargo and overall length.
York Transport, 1953 . . .
. . .Kusche exposes with a simple New York Times article. The plane was no where near the Triangle. Kusche was quite good here. But perhaps he was getting a little disheartened. It is hear that we begin to see more acrimony toward other writers, “several sins of omission have been committed to in order to provide another mystery for the ‘Triangle of Death,’” implying mistakes by other authors were intentional. We will see how indigestible this becomes.
Navy Superconstellation, 1954
One of the most tragic disappearances in the Triangle is also one of Kusche’s most dismal failures. He reproduces a factual but not too illuminating New York Times article which explains no reason for the disappearance. He gives himself one short paragraph after, in which he only recounts the hopes of the search teams, then strategically ends with “the search was abandoned on November 4 because of ‘extreme weather conditions.’ ” It’s a pathetic implication. The aircraft was not flying in foul weather, and had Kusche done real research he would have known how intense the investigation was. This was really a pathetic attempt to muddy the water.
Southern Districts, 1954 . . .
. . .was an unseaworthy vessel by the estimation of 3 of her crew who walked out on her before sailed. But Kusche’s bland reproduction of more New York Times articles pales by comparison to Alan Villier’s account of the incident in his brilliant book, Posted Missing. Kusche defers to his own logic to explain the fact that a life jacket from the vessel was found far south of the area of suspected disappearance. Since the lifejacket could not float southward in a northbound Gulf Stream current, Kusche deduces it was thrown overboard by a crewman because it was torn. He is ignorant that more debris was found, lending great mystery and confusion to this case. The area of the ship’s disappearance was deduced from the report of another ship, the Anacostia, which claims to have seen the vessel battling heavy seas off South Carolina. Yet considering the location of the debris the Anacostia may have seen another vessel. The fact is the Southern Districts may have disappeared far south off Florida in fair weather. That’s not good for the thesis, however.
Connemara IV, derelict, near Bermuda 1955
Another dismal failure. Kusche tries to associate the Connemara IV as having been deserted because of Hurricane Ione 1,000 miles away. No one really knows if the vessel was deserted prior to the hurricane and simply survived the heavy seas. I know of more extraordinary incidents, like a boat with 8 inches of freeboard surviving a similar storm in the same area and the two men on board surviving on two cans of pumpkins. Kusche gives no sailing dates or anything. Merely a Lloyd’s report that the vessel was picked up by another and taken in tow and then it sank 4 days later after the rope conveniently broke.
Navy Patrol Bomber, 1956,
Another bland failure do mostly to Kusche’s dependence on newspaper articles. The erroneous wording of the s.s. Captain Lyros report of the Marlin bomber made it sound as if the plane exploded in mid air. The actual report, still maintained by the Navy, made it clear the crew simply saw the great plane fly into the sea without taking any kind of evasive maneuver. It is actually quite odd. But Kusche relies on the newspaper account and believes the plane exploded in mid-air, though he could not explain why it would explode. Anybody can read a newspaper. Kusche’s “research” often does not qualify beyond the regular person who keeps newspaper clippings.
Again relying on the adjectives of a New York Times reporter, Kusche summarizes this incident with one sentence, a quote from the Times reporter 1,300 miles away from where it vanished: “Caught in near hurricane winds from the worst mid winter storm in the history of south Florida.” If you read enough newspaper accounts, you’ll realize every storm is the worst in history. So pondersome was Revonoc’s disappearance that friends of her master (a brilliant yachtsman, Harvey Conover), suggested a freighter might have run it down. Floridians were, apparently, unaware that they were experiencing “the worst storm.”
Another classic example of relying of newspapers. The obscure Virginia Pilot noted that the last message from the plane was when it was 240 miles from the coast, and that an oil slick was discovered 300 miles from the coast. Kusche puts them both together to imply the plane went down (as does the article.) “Unfortunately, there is not much information available on this incident, and the few articles that did appear leave many questions unanswered.” Unusual. Kusche makes it clear he knows about the Norton Air Force Base Safety Center repositories of all Air Force accidents, but does not seem to have gotten this report. This report makes it clear the plane was last heard over Bermuda, far past the spot of the oil slick. It disappeared with no clue.
Piper Apache, 1962,
Kusche could find no records for this, and I cannot either. I know of similar weird incidents happening more recently which does not make it implausible.
Marine Sulphur Queen, 1963
Kusche was rather in-depth with this one, allowing himself to rely on an official report at least, although the Coast Guard did not reach an explanation for the loss as he claims when saying they offered 4 possible causes.
Sno’Boy, 1963 . . .
. . .is actually an interesting case, pregnant with possibilities. Kusche is not out to investigate it, however. A pity, since by my time the report was destroyed. The newspaper articles which Kusche relies on are so contradictory, they are of no help. Some 40 fishermen went out on it and when it failed to arrive a search found the fishing poles and the two dinghies, very empty. Not one of the 40 could be found, so none made it into a boat. The Miami Herald repeats a lot of confusing and erroneous material, which Kusche apparently does not challenge as he never makes a comment, simply letting all these Miami Herald reports speak for themselves. First, about 55 people were on board, about 99 35 gallon tanks of gas were on the deck, sleeping accommodations were only for 7 on board; they offer an expression of astonishment from one boatsman that so many people were on board for a fishing trip. The fact is they weren’t and that anybody seeing all this junk on only a 63 foot boat would not have gone. No one is sure right now what the particulars are. Maybe Kusche wasn’t either, a smart reason for him to make no comment.
Kusche shows they most likely collided, but offers no reason why. He does show here that he communicated with Norton Air Force Base.
Kusche does not mention the big C-133 and knows nothing of the other.
The Flying Boxcar, 1965,
“The Legend and the newspaper version of this incident agree, though the conclusions differ,” wrote Kusche. Actually, the Miami Herald makes no conclusion. Kusche quibbles about a UFO report, but can offer no explanation for the disappearance. He knows nothing of the official report.
“Black Week,” January 1967
He solved none, but compared the fact that minimal debris was found from one incident which was searched for more quickly than the other two, therefore implying the ocean merely dispersed the debris (even though one vanished over shallow water). He avoids that none sent any Maydays. Had he done further research he would have discovered 8 aircraft disappeared that year.
The Legend rings true about Witchcraft despite Kusche’s reliance on an imaginative reporter’s account who claims, picturesquely, “Stiff winds blowing from the north and northeast whipped the surface of the Atlantic into a carpet of foam . . .” Burack and Horgan went out to see Miami’s Christmas lights from the shore, not something you do in a storm. Here Kusche reveals his disadvantage of never having been to the Triangle since he doesn’t realize only one mile out is around Buoy 7 near Government Cut. They weren’t even out of the Harbor. Kusche does remind us, with his happy little sub notes, that Burack’s name only has one “r”.
P.S. Cathy Burack has complimented my page on her father, and thanked me for the reliable information. Also, because of me, her brother, Michael, was the first member of the family to speak about this incident on TLC.
Scorpion was never listed as a disappearance in any book, except perhaps in Jeffery’s psychic-based paperback in 1973 and Spencer’s Limbo. Kusche is correct, but he is debunking for the sake of those who read nothing but a cheap paperback.
Five Abandoned Vessels, July 1969
Nothing is particularly inaccurate. Most were found outside of the Triangle, toward the Azores. This can be explained by the drift of the Gulf Stream. Any vessel drifts that way from the Triangle whether keeled-over or not. The indications of age on a couple of them indicate they had drifted for a long time. The Teignmouth Electron is a unique case and the reader should get Tomlinson & Hall’s book, The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst. It is far more interesting than Kusche’s reproduction of a short London Times bulletin.
Bill Verity, 1969
I never even heard about this one. Missed it. Must have been in some passing article or TV news. He didn’t disappear according to Kusche, but is still alive and well. Can’t recall anybody having listed him as missing.
Jillie Bean and the Piper Comanche, 1970,
No one ever heard of Jillie Bean because the Miami Herald reported the yacht missing on November 26, 1970, and then corrected it 2 days later as being found. The Piper Comanche was never found and the weather was good. Kusche tries to give any number of explanation of what might have happened, none of which remotely solves anything. An NTSB database search shows at least 3 aircraft missing that year, but Kusche is unaware of that.
Elizabeth, 1971 . . .
. . .is also unknown and appears in no major book to my knowledge. Kusche could not find it himself. End solution.
El Caribe, 1971,
Kusche recounts it based on newspaper accounts, none of which solve it. In fact, he seems rather desperate by this time. He ends,: “I have not been able to find any reports of storm in the area at the time El Caribe disappeared, but this is not positive proof of good weather.”
V.A. Fogg, 1972,
He blows this fake mystery out of the water, but so did others before him. John Spencer goofed big time here, taking ribbing from Dick Winer and others. Kusche didn’t need to probe beyond a local newspaper. The ship didn’t disappear but sank in shallow water. Its radar mast was still above the surface.
Norse Variant and Anita, 1973
Sister ships that vanished. Kusche’s implication that the hurricane is often overlooked is overstating it, but he makes sure that everybody knows they were caught in storms and there was a survivor from Norse Variant. This was pretty basic knowledge at the time.
Linda, 1973 . . .
. . .was an incident that involved kidnapping to Cuba. She was finally released with other fishing boats. She does not appear in the litany of missing, so Kusche really debunked very little.
End of Cases.
Kusche tries his hand next with the Devil’s Sea in a short chapter on it, but I won’t sport with your intelligence to review his comments here since this article is long enough. His next 2 chapters are trite overviews of Sanderson’s Vile Vortice Theory, with which I am not necessarily in disagreement as I have little regard for a lot of Sanderson’s hatchworks. But his approach to magnetism and its anomalies in the next chapter is altogether simplistic. He avoids most of the details of survivors. Many of these are quite accurate. They were first contained in Berlitz’s book. These accounts Berlitz got from Dr. J. Manson Valentine, who had lived and worked in the Triangle and studied it since the mid 1940s. Valentine’s firsthand knowledge of the Triangle is probably why Berlitz’s book did so well.
Today, people are certain that Kusche wrote some stellar to debunk Berlitz and Valentine. The chronology is wrong, as Kusche admitted in a later interview. “I had started writing in early 1973, and Harper & Row originally planned to have the book out by April 1974. This would have been five months before Berlitz’s book, The Bermuda Triangle, which, of course, we didn’t know about then.” Kusche admits he changed gears several times and this is what caused a year delay in getting his book out.
His epilogue shows he truly believed his research and that it proved his findings were consistent: “Once sufficient information was found, logical explanations appeared for most incidents. . . .With only a few exceptions, the mishaps that remain unsolved are those for which no information can be found.” One wonders what he is referring to, since those few paltry accident reports he obtained solved none of the incidents, and many of the newspaper accounts he followed were faulty and, indeed, he was selective in what cases to present to begin with.
But points 9 and 10 of his “findings” begin to tread into a world of hypocrisy. “Many of the writers who publicized the events did no original research but merely rephrased the articles of previous writers, thereby perpetuating the errors and embellishments in earlier accounts.” 10, “In an number of incidents writers withheld information that provided an obvious solution to the disappearance.”
His conclusion: “The Legend of the Bermuda Triangle is a manufactured mystery. It began because of careless research and was elaborated upon and perpetuated by writers who either purposely or unknowingly made use of misconceptions, faulty reasoning, and sensationalism. It was repeated so many times that it began to take on the aura of truth.”
Well, it is precisely this method by which Kusche established his solution. By repeating unreliable sources, he came to his evidence. His statements in the end are so independent of the body of his work, his “findings” and “facts” strike one more as a commercial for his preconceived point of view rather than a summation of what his book presented. He apparently believed he actually solved these incidents.
Kusche overlooks that these writers who were perpetuating error were actually getting their source information from him. If his book can be considered anything, it should have been considered penance for his uncritical bibliography. Most today are not familiar with this. This is how Kusche got published and how he got a name as a “researcher.” In 1972 while doing work for University of Arizona at Tempe as a research librarian, Kusche was swamped with requests for information by the students and realized that there was little compilation of resources for articles on the subject. Along with Debra Blouin, he compiled The Bermuda Triangle Bibliography which contained thousands of articles on the subject. This became so popular that people from all over the world were writing or calling to Tempe to request a copy, so they could track down the sources for their own works. Kusche admits. “. . .we were swamped with requests, including orders from John Wallace Spencer, Richard Winer and Charles Berlitz.” It was when Harper & Row asked for a copy, that Kusche pitched his own book. Based on 2 sample chapters, Harper & Row sent him a contract.
Despite Kusche’s apparent disdain for these other writers, he unknowingly admits that they and dozens of others sought his bibliography as source. They inquired at university level for information and what did they receive in return? An uncritical bibliography that contained all these references. It is hypocritical for Kusche to accuse others of sloppy research when theirs was, largely, based on following his 6 month stint of compiling the titles of articles but not bothering to know their content— a trait of that profession which is based on getting something by its title and cover but not opening it up. (Actually the sensationalistic lines attributed to Flight 19 originated in a very respectable American Legion magazine article which his Bib. led everybody to.)
Kusche claims he did not start out to solve the riddle, but says it was an added bonus after he finished his book and noticed the evidence, although I find it hard to imagine how he pitched a deal with Harper & Row without having a thesis handy. His impression at his own work led to a number of denigrating classifications for other writers, apparently based on his research training of classifying on appearance.
In an interview after his own publication, Kusche said “There’s a whole subculture of pseudoscientific mystery writers who have been pumping out this kind of material on ancient astronauts, UFOs, the Bermuda Triangle, and other topics for many years, without opposition of any kind. I plan to bring my bulldozer in and show that their buildings aren’t concrete, but just bubbles and baubles piled high and deep.”
In reality, Philip J. Klass was already well established as a UFO skeptic, with 2 successful books to his credit, and Erich von Daniken’s theories had been critiqued in books devoted solely to that purpose, like Ron Story’s Space Gods Revealed, and Dr. Clifford Wilson, of Columbia University, in his Crash Go the Chariots, a 1,000,000 copy bestseller. Kusche’s methods of inquiry pale by comparison.
His other work never materialized. His only other book in this genre was The Disappearance of Flight 19 five years later, a work that earned him the enmity of the family that befriended him and that had made his book possible— the family of the flight leader of Flight 19 who was the centerpiece of his book. This book ended up promoting some of the most unsubstantiated rubbish on the topic and on the character of Charles Taylor.
Larry Kusche also appears to be the author of books on popcorn, another fluffy, hollow commodity. “THIS BOOK TELLS YOU HOW TO POP POPCORN. EVERYBODY KNOWS HOW, YOU SAY? WELL, THIS BOOK TELLS YOU HOW TO POP POPCORN SCIENTIFICALLY. YOU'LL GET MORE TASTY AND CRUNCHY FLAKES OF POPCORN AND FEWER OF THOSE BURNED JAWBREAKER KERNELS THAT DIDN’T POP” boasts Popcorn Potpouri, 1977.
In his summation Kusche shows the typical attitude of the debunker: to find fault in others but to have absolutely no introspection. When he finds evidence that apparently reflects his image of the status quo, he deduces he has found the “facts” and ceases his research. In this light, Daniel Drasin’s humorous article Zen and the Art of Debunkery becomes very a propos, and one can see that Drasin spent years studying their method.
In an interview by Wanda Sue Parrott and reprinted in Riddle of The Bermuda Triangle, 1977, Kusche rendered what is his own impression of his work. “I don’t like the word ‘debunk’ because it carries with it the connotation that someone set out to prove someone else wrong, which was not what I did. My purpose throughout was not even to find a solution but merely to write a book that reported each incident as objectively and honestly as possible. The solution was completely unintentional and an added bonus.”
The solution, it might be added, was indecipherable as well. Whether Kusche added the idea of the solution or whether the editor or publisher did, it is in Kusche’s statement of his work that Bermuda Triangle Mystery —Solved might best still be viewed, for it fits the content of his book. It is a look at the incidents. His sources neither solve nor in some cases even debunk. There is truth and there is error, as there is in all the other books. But it is in comparing the content of the book with its title where the greatest disillusionment is found with the work. It can best be appreciated and find deserved endurance as the Bermuda Triangle Examined rather than Solved.
For those who are aware of what garbage was spread before Kusche wrote his book, the book remains deservedly refreshing. But for those who are expecting some unchallenged solution, it is disappointing.