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500 Leagues of Sea

La Isla Bonita

Bermuda Triangle Index

   Completing the Triangle is the capitol city of San Juan, Puerto Rico. San Juan receives the distinction of being the third corner of the Triangle not because it is necessarily a radial spot for mystery, but because it is the largest industrialized port in the hemisphere. It is, like Miami, a jump-off port to the warm waters of the Caribbean and Atlantic.  Within the register of missing ships and planes, San Juan is a familiar name. Many were leaving from or headed to this tropic port before they silently passed into mystery.
     The foremost landmark in the city are the fortresses of El Morro and San Cristobal, two renaissance castles that jut out against the angry waters of the Atlantic. Many an aircraft has

El Morro makes a stark contrast with modern San Juan, with its boulevards and byways.

glimpsed this view of El Morro before they vanished in the Bermuda Triangle.
     The entire island of Puerto Rico is considered in the Triangle, as well as the neighboring Virgin Islands, plus most of the Windwards and Leewards. Just as the Keys often vie with Miami for the distinction of being the second corner of the infamous “Devil’s Triangle” so do these tropical islands have a claim on some spectacular mysteries.
 
   Everything is not beautiful on the Isla Bonita. There is a side to Puerto Rico which connects it inexorably with the Bermuda Triangle. There are no tourist guidebooks for this side; true mystery has none.

     Puerto Rico’s west coast and western mountains are a major area for UFO reports, such as around Adjuntas, Aguadilla and Cabo Rojo. In a somewhat disconcerting coincidence, this area is the concentration of unexplained disappearances. Although officially they are not linked with UFOs, one incident makes this theory unavoidable.
     This was the disappearance of an Ercoupe 415D in June 1980. In the refreshingly frank National Transportation Safety Board report on this missing plane, they obligingly included the dialogue of the pilot’s strained voice speaking about a “weird object” interfering with his plane and some force fritzing his navigational equipment.
     When this aircraft vanished it was right in this same vicinity as the  Adjuntas UFO “flap” in 1972. (Actually Adjuntas is in the mountains, but the flap radiated out toward the ocean during the 3 months it occurred. During this same time, at Cabo Rojo, several derelict yachts were brought into port, abandoned though they were not in sinking condition.)
     While the pilot, Jose Maldonado Torres, described his menacing foe as a “weird object,” his passenger’s father had a more detailed opinion. Jose Pagan Jimenez, an Aero Police officer of Puerto Rico, also owner of the aircraft, lost his son who was Torres’ passenger. In describing the object, from the information he had obtained as both a police officer and as one of the search pilots, he referred to it as an objetto luminoso or “glowing object” in his personal affidavit.

The area of the Puerto Rico Trench. Another huge trench exists in the sea bed, the Mariannas’ Trench in the Pacific. This area is a part of the infamous “Devil’s Sea,” also noted for magnetic disturbances.

     Other mysteries off Puerto Rico’s coast call to mind the ancient mysteries of our planet. Puerto Rico gives its name to a huge fissure in the earth below the sea called The Puerto Rico Trench. It is a staggering 5 miles deep and runs east to west for about 220 miles. This must truly have been made by an enormous cataclysm, which etched this in the crust and probably noticeably effected the ocean levels of the Atlantic at some point in the ancient past.
     The stresses that caused it may still be latent in the area. A cauliflower-like boiling mound of ocean was seen by the flight crew of a Boeing 707, who jointly estimated it at a mile diameter.
   Other stresses may exist in the area, invisible counterparts to this huge scar. Magnetic compass deviations are reported over this area as well. The area of the trench is also home to many “magnetic faults.”

 

  Bending southward from this large island are the Leeward and Windward islands of the Caribbean. After leaving the gateway of San Juan these islands stand open before the traveler with their tall, verdant mountains, extinct volcanoes and whitewashed port towns. Red roofed homes speckle the hillsides, and their shadows are translucent in the clear water of the bays. Winding roads cut through luscious jungles. Surrounding the islands are a halo of white beaches and turquoise waters. Several yachts lie idle, anchored in protective blue lagoons. L1011s constantly bring in another load of tourists

Windwards and Leewards

to sample the waters, fishing, beaches, clubs and calypso music. Inner island charters do for the rest: commuter prop liners, small jets or private planes. Sloops and yawls and sailing clippers are sampled by the more adventurous.
     The names of these islands are synonymous with tropical paradise: Anguilla, Antigua, Barbuda, Saint Vincent, Grenada, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, Martinique, Guadaloupe, Trinidad and Tobago, and Barbados.
       Some of the most outstanding disappearances in this corner of the Triangle have occurred within these peaceful islands. But none of them Apachethumbis as remarkable as that of the disappearance of a Piper Navajo. This inner island twin engine charter aircraft represents the closest time in all the history of the Triangle’s enigma that a disappearance

  The bulbous but ever reliable Piper Apache. Several have vanished, often with pilots that had chalked up thousands of flight hours experience.

was witnessed. It vanished while coming in for a landing at Harry S. Truman Airport on St. Thomas in 1978, suddenly gone as if plucked away by a vengeful or greedy hand.

   One of the most disturbing disappearances happened to a charter Piper Navajo here at St. Thomas. While on approach to the airport, the plane suddenly vanished, without trace and without any ELT. It was between Little Saba Island and the airport, and was, furthermore, being watched by the tower controller, William Kittinger.

     Around St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, 3 aircraft have vanished after having signaled approach. In the above case, it happened between the tower operator’s glance out the Britten-Norman-iconwindow at its running lights and his glance back at the radarscope which now was blank.
     Other disappearances have happened after briefly clutching safety. Such as a Twin Otter,

  “Cleared to land St. Thomas. Failed to arrive. Presumed lost at sea.” Thus the fate of one Britten Norman-Islander was officially summed up, when it disappeared on Feb. 10, 1974. The same phenomenon repeated itself  in 1978 and 1982.

which broke out of approach twice before it vanished on its last circumference of St. Vincent.
     Many of these pilots were charter captains with thousands of hours flight experience. Pilot error seems far removed. Other seasoned pilots, who often have searched for the missing, are equally at a loss to explain such sudden loss, especially when it is without trace and so close to land.
     Electronically, however, there should still be a trail, for modern private and commercial aircraft carry what is called an ELT— “Emergency Locator Transmitter.” It is an electronic device that jettisons from an aircraftGrenada when it impacts. Dozens have carried these handy devices, yet not one has ever left even this electronic SOS behind. It is not dependent on the human equation to operate; everything is automatic. Yet everything is wrong in these losses. They should

Grenada

have left a trace, at least something, some signal, some shred of evidence. . . But nothing. a_cargoshipAlways nothing!
     On ships as well. The freighter El Caribe vanished in the Caribbean, without a sound from her automatic alarm. The pattern seems undeniable, whether from ships or planes, there is sudden, total and permanent silence.

     These nodal points are not all there is to the Triangle or its mysteries. We have only skimmed along the skin of the enigma. Within the Triangle there is the “damnable Sargasso Sea.”

 

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