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The mysterious area known as the Bermuda Triangle has puzzled people for years. "How could people, planes and boats just simply disappear into thin air," we ask. But is this really what has happened in the Bermuda Triangle or have added accounts of the occurrences created a mystery where there is no real mystery at all?

According to the lore of the Bermuda Triangle, which is the area located east of Florida where ships and planes are said to disappear in numbers too large for it to just be a coincidence, grew with the loss of Flight 19 on December 5, 1945. On this date five TBM Avenger torpedo bombers took off from Fort Lauderdale in Florida on a 320 mile navigation training exercise that should have taken them east, then north over Grand Bahamas Island and then southwest back to the base.

The leader of Flight 19 was Lt. Charles Taylor, who was one of two experienced crew men aboard the planes. All twelve of the other members including pilots, radiomen and gunners, were students in training. Within two hours of the 2:10 P.M. takeoff, radio messages indicated that Taylor had become disoriented: "Both my compasses are out. I'm over land, but it's broken. I'm sure I'm in the Keys, but I don't know how far down and I don't know how to get to Fort Lauderdale." The interesting fact here is that anything like the planned flight course should have put Flight 19 near Great Sale Cay, 200 miles northeast of the Florida Keys.

The next two hours were spent in fragmentary radio contacts which revealed that Flight 19 flew chiefly north and east in the apparent belief that it was over the Gulf of Mexico and would soon encounter the west coast of Florida. One of the final transmissions from Taylor announced: "All planes close up tight...we will have to ditch unless landfall....when the first man gets down to 10 gallons we will all land in the water together." One flying boat was immediately dispatched out of Miami to search for the presumably ditched airmen but had to turn back when its antenna iced over. A second took off from the Banana River Naval Air Station. Within half an hour of that take off, a tanker observed a burst of flames and investigated a patch of oil and debris where the flying boat is believed to have crashed.

As for the fate of Flight 19, a five day search of 250,000 square miles of ocean failed to discover any trace of it. Down through the years several exaggerations and legends have made the story of Flight 19 even more bizarre than it was. Some stories were told embellishing it with hints of UFO's and alleged radio messages such as "Even the doesn't look as it should" and "Don't come after me...It looks like...". Even so, there are questions at the core of this tragedy even the naval inquiry record could not answer. How was it possible that both of Taylor's compasses fail shortly after they were checked out in the pre-flight inspection? Although it true that northernmost Bahamas look much like the Florida Keys from the air, what caused the airmen become convinced that the first leg of their flight had taken them so far south rather than east? Evidence points to the conclusion that Flight 19 ran out of fuel and that its crews were unable to get into rafts before the ditched planes sank in rough water. But this evidence does not explain how their planned two hour training flight became a wandering five hour journey to who knows where.