My connection with a search for an answer to the fate of Flight 19 began over 25 years ago when I actively began researching The Bermuda Triangle. The disappearance of 5 large US Navy warplanes in unison was a phenomenal event in 1945, and it is no wonder that it became the instigating factor for journalists to probe into the records and uncover many other disappearances. Within a short span of time the concept of The Bermuda Triangle would be born. No one who investigates The Bermuda Triangle can ignore Flight 19. It is the beginning, the anchor point, the most astounding occurrence in The Bermuda Triangle . . .
. . .And because of this it is, paradoxically, the most obscure case. This paradox exists for one reason. The flight became swallowed up into the greater enigma of The Bermuda Triangle. Any recounting of the incident was limited to minor vignettes. The only thing that was necessary for writers was to link it with the many other ships and planes that had vanished in the area and then continue on with theories and the ultimate ramifications of all the mystery. And yet, in truth, Flight 19 is the greatest mystery in the annals of aviation, not just the Triangle.
Ironically, my research has shown that Flight 19 stands alone. . . and, even more ironic, that is stands apart from The Bermuda Triangle. Yes, it took off and flew in the Bahamas, an area considered the heart of the Triangle, but it did not disappear in the Triangle. The 5 aircraft, the 14 men, did in fact make it back to land. Over a decade of research and searching has allowed me to put together the entire flight, the events leading to it, and the mysterious aftermath and probable fate of the famous “Lost Squadron.”
This began with certain presentations here on my web site. Then, when some on the media heard I had finished my manuscript on the subject, in which I presented my case in detail, NBC used it as inspiration for a 2 hour special presentation documentary. They Flew into Oblivion, the title of my MS, also inspired a Resolution in Congress on November 17, 2005, which passed overwhelming with a vote of 420-2. It also inspired NBC to position into orbit the highest declassified military satellite in hopes of finding a trace of the flight in the swamp where my research had led me. Needless to say, I was overwhelmed by what my facts had inspired.
And, as many of you know, I have a passion for book design. I designed my own limited edition copy of They Flew into Oblivion. For being a book that I myself designed and published, and yet only advertised by putting a link up on my site, the response was quite remarkable. I garnered praise. It swayed military historians. Randy Wayne White, the author of the long running Doc Ford series by Putnam, even used They Flew into Oblivion as the inspiration for some of the adventures of his character Doc Ford in his New York Times bestseller Night Moves.
It became high time that I finally sought a real publisher and also put up more chronological information on my web site. This section begins the pages solely devoted to Flight 19, my historical research to actually piece together what happened, and my personal search to actually find the last remnants of the famous and enigmatic “Lost Patrol.”
We begin with the Flight. The flight took off at 2:08 p.m on the afternoon of December 5, 1945, in order to fly a routine triangular flight pattern over the heart of the northern Bahamas. It should have been but a 2 hour and 15 minute flight. It was a very easy navigational hop, and the course was hemmed in by many distinctive landmarks. When messages were intercepted about 3:40 p.m. that the flight was lost and the flight leader, Lt. Charles Taylor, believed his compasses were malfunctioning, there should have been little cause to worry. The standard procedure for any flight lost over sea was to fly west until they find the coast.
The sun was clearly to the west this late in the afternoon. There were 5 aircraft involved. One of them had to have a working compass. After trying a couple of different courses, the flight leader finally said they would head west until they reached the beach or ran out of gas.
Nevertheless, hours later, after hours of garbled radio communication, there was still no sign of the flight. Finally around 6 p.m. a radio position fix revealed the 5 aircraft were far north in the Atlantic Ocean. This was incredible, for it meant they had gotten out of the Bahamas without ever seeing a distinctive landmark. Fortunately, even at this late time they still had more than enough fuel to make the coast. Yet they never got back to base. Seven hours after they had taken off for their short flight, their voices segued into the night forever. No trace would ever be found.
The disappearance of this entire squadron of 5 US Navy Avengers was considered so extraordinary that it became the impetus for the enigma of The Bermuda Triangle. In 1962 Allan W. Ekert wrote a sensational piece in the American Legion Magazine. In it he introduced captivating dialogue between the “flight leader” and the “tower.” Legend, truth, myth and error sprang from that article, and to this day many people have a very confused or skewed view of Flight 19, the actual flight, men, the myth and, most importantly, the facts.