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Bermuda Triangle Index

500 Leagues of Sea

Somewhere Between   

   On the tip of a narrow peninsula that juts northward like the jib of an ancient galleon there sits the quaint but touristy settlement of West End, Grand Bahama. West End looks out over the swift and deep Gulf Stream, which dashes north under the familiar white tropic haze. Over this the sky is robin egg blue, then higher up, as you lift your gaze, it fades to the deep royal blue of the tropics.

Tourist map showing Grand Bahama, main ports, resorts, anchorages, etc.

   Across the Stream are the American vacation meccas of West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Delray Beach and Pompano Beach— Florida’s Riviera— the long artery of vacation villas, hotels, and fleshy beaches bisected by the palm lined highway south to Fort Lauderdale and Miami.
     Florida’s Riviera not only possesses a massive amount of tourists, it is dotted by small airfields for jumping off to the enticing luxury retreats of Grand Bahama. This arthritic looking sandstone island’s silhouette soon makes itself visible to the pilot after he departs the coast. 10305418The trip is short, very short. A commercial or private plane is sometimes only at its cruising altitude for 5 minutes. The rest of the flight it is busy following the directions of its flight plan, ascending at the

Miami, bustling, alive, vibrant, far from anything silent and mysterious.

proper increments and descending until touchdown at West End. 
     West Palm Beach International, plus Miami and Fort Lauderdale, monitor the frequencies and listen for any broadcast. Freeport, the main destination on Grand Bahama, is on the other end giving weather advisories or just standing by awaiting for the expected contacts from the traffic. Fishing vessels and big steamers slice through the deep Gulf Stream below, leaving behind them a frothy wake in this sapphire blue river. West End is also a customs port of entry into the Bahamas, and Floridian containershipboats chock the harbor upon entrance. At both ends of the route, boaters, sun-bathers, anybody and everybody, is familiar to the routine drone of planes overhead.
     The nearness of everything, both geographically and commercially, doesn’t seem like it could conceal anything; but nonetheless 20 or so aircraft have utterly vanished after heading to Freeport on Grand Bahama or after having departed. And this is only in the last 30 years or so!
     The first incident in the records is dated February 8, 1964, when a Piper Twin Apache (N2157P) vanished in commercial air taxi service in the vicinity of Freeport, with a pilot and 3 passengers returning from vacation to West Palm Beach. His qualifications as pilot were really quite good, some 10,000 hours.
     On December 6, 1965, an Ercoupe F01 was en route from Fort Lauderdale to West End. N99660 faded from radar at 9:43 a.m. Two persons had been on board. All the appropriate papers were filled out, ever question for explanation marked “missing,” and filed away. Stamped thereon was the usual official conclusion: “aircraft damage Chance414and injury index presumed.”
     On February 10, 1974, a beefy Cessna Chancellor vanished on a short route between Freeport and Treasure Cay. The pilot was soon sighted between broken clouds above the Treasure Cay Airport, and then by radio he soon confirmed it was him. However,  N8103Q was never seen again, nor heard from again. No midair explosion was heard; no whine of an CessnaChancintairplane spinning into the sea; no mountainous splash; no debris. 
     A Twin Comanche disappeared on February 25, 1975, en route from Greensboro,

Chancellor Interior: a bit of luxury, eh?

North Carolina to Freeport. Again, there was no trace or even approximate position known, although the entire route is within the Triangle’s fluid boundaries.
     On May 2, 1975, A Cessna Skymaster (N86011) vanished with a 33 year old pilot between Fort Lauderdale and West End or Freeport.
     Leonard Jervis took off from Freeport in a nice twin engine Cessna 401 (N7896F) on June 3, 1987, carrying 3 others with him. He filed a flight plan listing Crooked Island, a more southerly island,  as his destination. The weather was brilliant; a satellite photo confirmed so. At 10:41 a.m. the Cessna was last seen clearing the shoreline and . . . 
     The strange disappearance on March 26, 1986, of Jose Villa, his five passengers and Navajo Chieftain, is another outstanding example of how lightning-like total mystery must strike in this narrow area of the Bermuda Triangle.

chieftain

The Navajo Chietain is a stretched Navajo. You can plainly identify one by the 6 windows on the side. Navajo C has 5, the Navajo B has 4.

     Operating N3527E for Wing Air Service, Villa closed the after door of his propliner after the last of his 5 passengers boarded and sat in their choice of the 10 seats available. He informed them of the short flight time between Miami and Freeport, adding a light hearted joke about flying to ease those who are perpetually afraid of flying in small planes.
     He revved up the motors, deafening any conversation inside, and contacted Miami Tower over his headset. After a burst over his mike the controller cleared him to taxi and takeoff. Maimi Tower watched the plane angle up into the sky at 9:36 a.m.

 

   The weather was a good tropic spring day— temperature was 75 degrees, broken clouds ushered by to the pace of a gusting Gulf Stream trade wind.
   The shore line below was crowded with tourists. Spring break had begun for some, and the beaches were a mass of moving colors. Bordering the beaches are the tall condominiums and hotels, palm lined boardwalks and busy beach front businesses. The incoming rows of surf are marked by the advancing thin foaming crests.
     The droning silhouette then headed northeast to West End. Grand Bahama must have come into view in 20 minutes, becoming bigger and bigger every minute.
     Villa next reported himself 10 miles west of West End. In terms of coming in for approach, 5 to 7 minutes before landing. WestEndThat was the last thing heard from him. The plane was never seen again, and no trace was ever found, even though the approximate last position of the plane was known.
     This is all the more incredible because West End is a customs port of entry into the Bahamas. None of the boats below heard any crash or explosion. The plane was close to land. It was driven by two 350 horse power engines. In minutes they would have been over the island. Villa and his flight must have vanished suddenly, within seconds of his last call. If anybody’s attention was directed to the sky that morning, it was from the sudden silence, a silence made conspicuous when the routine hum of the charter was suddenly noticed to be gone.
     Grand Bahama is not the only port of entry into the Bahamas. Bimini is another major entryway. Boats dock here more frequently than West End, and planes shuttle over on their way into the heart of the Bahamas. Bimini lies under what used to be called the Yankee Route, an air highway that goes all the way to Puerto Rico. All sorts of aircraft hum over, coming and going from Andros, Nassau, the Berry Islands, and the Exumas.

 
Navajointerior

Navajo interior: Crowded . . .but more room than many. Seats face each other. The cockpit is in the background.

     Bimini is the heart of the Triangle, both its enigma and legend. It has become one of the footsteps to Edgar Cayce’s Atlantis and therewith proof to many who believe in clairvoyance that the theories that hinge upon his readings need to be taken seriously. Bimini is also the center of the Triangle for those stalwarts who seek scientific explanations. It is the locus for many unusual electromagnetic anomalies recorded around in the Triangle, the area’s most famous enigma. For one reason or another Bimini is at the heart of it all. Pilots watch their compasses here more often and point their passengers to the mysterious stones below the shallow aqua waters. Glass bottom boats congregate offshore, the tour guides promising theirDROPOFF customers a view of ancient Atlantis.
   The legend of the “Bimini Road” and Atlantis mix perfectly with the areas of “drop off” encountered at many places along the Florida

The “drop off” near Bimini

Straits. This is quite a marvel to  behold from the air and does indeed impress one in an ominous way. The outlines of the shallow Great Bahama Bank are so clearly delineated that it is apparent that this was once some huge island. Some cataclysm must have created this long ago worthy of Plato’s Atlantis. Colloquially any area of sharp contrast is called the “drop-off” due to the precipitous change in depth.
     Most areas of drop-off have some kind of ominous quality because the contrast accentuates the unknown of the depths. The drop-off by Moselle Reef near Bimini is also noted for undersea lights flitting about, giving it the reputation as “haunted” by local fishermen.  arielbimini202  
     Passing over this island on November 5, 1982, two pilots, Jim

Crossing Bimini at Baily Town.

Valentine and Brian Lupinske, along with a passenger, Norma Peddle, were the objects of another mystery in the Bermuda Triangle.  They were en route to Eleuthera from Fort Lauderdale. At 4:45 p.m. at 5,000 feet their big Beech Queen Air N1HQ was last seen against a backdrop of gray clouds. Valentine contacted Miami and told them he was switching controls to pick up Nassau. He signaled their ETA at 5:25 p.m.
   Whatever happened to them, it happened soon and suddenly, as in the case of Star Ariel.  Nassau never had contact with Valentine, and no trace of the aircraft was ever found.
     Coast Guard research showed that a band of thunderstorms had passed this area, but that was 20 hours earlier and they were headed northeast, away from the plane’s route to Eleuthera.
     This is only one of many disappearances both of ships and aircraft over these shallow waters. Far fewer have returned to speak of strange encounters, but it has happened. Let us face the antithesis of this hypnotic archipelago of sapphire and turquoise waters and velvety beaches. Let us encounter the “electronic fog” with one survivor and look beyond the cases to see what might be responsible.

The Website of Gian J. Quasar

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