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.
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.
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.”
This is just one case attributed to the Bermuda Triangle. It is one I found. I would have to be the one who found it. There was no one else but me interested anymore. The Bermuda Triangle had fallen into total disrepute by 1990 when I started my research. People believed it had been “solved” or that it had just been sensationalism. It was the only topic out of the pantheon of those great and famous world mysteries to be subjected to the ignominy of having been forgotten. Many had fired the imagination of the 20th century, but the Bermuda Triangle, the most documented of all, ironically fell victim to the claim it had been exposed. It was a false claim.
But the Bermuda Triangle is the only world mystery that could ever suffer such a claim. Unlike the other tantalizing and often bloated 20th century mysteries— UFOs, Bigfoot, Loch Ness Monster, Ancient Aliens— the Bermuda Triangle is not subjective. It does not rely on claims of someone having seen a flying saucer or some hairy hominid in the dense forests. It’s mystery is tangible. It is based on hundreds of ships and planes that really existed and thousands of persons aboard them who were real people. They are gone. There is no question they have vanished.
Paradoxically, it is not difficult, or it wasn’t, to claim the Triangle was all hokum. Just claim that a storm was responsible, find some small point that indicated it was an accident, or suspect pilot error and have done with it. This ceased, however, in 1999. It was 20 years after Triangle fever had faded away. The web had a couple of sites on it. They debunked a mystery no one had heard about for 20 years. They were all based on old books. In March of that year I placed up my original site Bermuda-Triangle.Org. At that time what I presented was the result of 9 years of intense investigation.
For the first time new information had been presented. I personally had uncovered about 75 more aircraft disappearances than anyone had ever heard about. The number of ships I added to the list of missing I cannot even remember anymore. The original hype of the Bermuda Triangle in the 1960s and 1970s was based on a paltry number of missing ships and planes by comparison— 50 ships and 20 aircraft the Encyclopedia Britannica would say. I upped it to 120 aircraft and at least a dozen pleasure boats per year since then. Today, it is much higher.
The belief that the Bermuda Triangle had been solved faded away quickly. So what if someone had removed a few planes or ships from the old litany of 50 ships and 20 planes? For every ship or plane removed I had added 20, all with official documentation. Very, to say the least, very unusual circumstances had attended many of the disappearances. This was now no longer documented by pulp magazines. I used the records of Briefs and Factual Aviation Accident reports of the National Transportation Safety Board. For marine disappearances, I got the reports of the US Coast Guard, or the reports from whatever foreign power had been responsible for the said investigation.
Frankly, no one had ever seen anybody devote this kind of research to the subject or any subject lopped so carelessly into the realm of the “paranormal.” The reason why I did it is that I discovered the Bermuda Triangle is the furthest thing from that. My investigation convinced me “it” was real. Thus I devoted serious research to finding every incident, verifying every claim, and sometimes getting a door slammed in my face. The end result was that the Bermuda Triangle was reborn and my name, my strange name, was inexorably linked to it. It got to the point where all the locals in Bermuda or Florida or Puerto Rico identified me with the subject. Even those who had long been associated with the mystery of the subject deferred to me. In an interview for his own book, The Fog, Bruce Gernon said: “Dr. Valentine told me I held the key in the early seventies. He had more knowledge of the Bermuda Triangle than anyone. He inspired me to continuously research these phenomena. Today, another man named Gian Quasar is said to have more knowledge of the Bermuda Triangle than anyone. He is the author of the first book written about the Bermuda Triangle in 25 years, and he makes the same statement as Dr. Valentine in the forward of our book.”
We’ll get into “Electronic Fog” later. . . .
Still a young man of 24 years I plowed ever diligently and sometimes naively forward. Behind the scenes Charles Berlitz himself had mused at my dedication. He even set out to find Captain Don Henry for me, and to talk to J. Manson Valentine for me. . . the man who in essence I have now replaced.
My eternal and unchallenged association with the Bermuda Triangle has been a double-edged sword. Television pounded at my door for documentaries (I cannot count the number anymore). Doctoral students came to me for information. Textbooks referred to my work, from Thomas Nelson to even Cambridge University. Even the Coast Guard came to me for input when they revised their official opinion of the subject. All this was good, but, alas, I became typecast with it, to an overwhelming extent. If you read Why the Quester Files?, you will see why it bothered me.
I investigated and still investigate many things. This is finally why I took down my Triangle site and prepared to place everything Bermuda Triangle in its own section of The Q Files, which holds my work on many topics. I had for years now been identified as the “real life Kolchak,” and it seemed wise to place my Triangle work in perspective to all my other investigations here. My association with being a “paranormal” investigator I felt to be monstrously inaccurate, one reason why Randy Wayne White gave me such a wonderful endorsement after reading my exposé They Flew into Oblivion on Fight 19.
So how have I changed these subjects and here in particular the Bermuda Triangle in order to garner mainstream praise? To me the paranormal are ghosts and angels and demons or what have you. I have investigated claims of hauntings, but it is really not what I do. There is nothing like this responsible for the disappearance of thousands of tons of ships and aircraft. They have truly vanished and in fair weather. As such the Bermuda Triangle is quite true. It is a question of cause. It is a mystery of adventure, and often one of tragedy. But it is a tangible mystery and it must be pursued through real life investigation, not through endless theorizing on folklore.
The 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 radio receiver about a weird object messing with his aircraft, of eyes that brighten with the prospects when they gaze through the kaleidoscope of dancing shallows at an ancient and mysterious edifice, then I have served the subject well.
But after all this, what really is “the Bermuda Triangle”?