All of this provided fertile ground for the seeds of conspiracy theories to grow.
A short time after the loss of the two Stratotankers, in February 1963, the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle was made more public when Vincent Gaddis wrote a dramatic article for Argosy magazine in which he claimed that the area was haunted by supernatural forces. He dubbed the area “the Bermuda Triangle” and listed all the strange disappearances that had happened in this stretch of water over the centuries. Using little in the way of fact, Gaddis put down a convincing tale of evil forces that swallowed boats and planes with impunity. This article, with all its allusions to dark forces, caught the imagination of the public. As it seemed no one could supply answers as to why so many craft went missing, the public lapped up the concept of a supernatural void.
Since the public was enamored with the concept of the Bermuda Triangle, others were quick to cash in on the phenomenon, and books on the subject appeared almost overnight. In 1974, the most popular of all the books appeared, selling an astounding 20 million copies. The Bermuda Triangle, written by Charles Berlitz, was translated into 30 languages and was an international bestseller. This was an incredible feat for a book offering few facts and a great deal of allegation about alien abduction and supernatural powers. Berlitz’s theories were so popular and so well known that Hollywood stepped into the fray; Steven Spielberg used them in Close Encounters of the Third Kind when he inferred that the crew of Flight 19 had been abducted by aliens by having them return to Earth in the blockbuster film.
If the conspiracy theories are not credible, then what is the explanation for the disappearances in this part of the ocean? It is a well-known fact that compass variations and electronic instrument malfunctions can have devastating effects when they cause a pilot to misinterpret the data. However, although a compass bearing can change while trying to fix on a magnetic bearing, there is no explanation for irregularly spinning compass needles. There would also be no valid reason for electronic parts to all suddenly lose power. Physical differences in magnetic and electromagnetic fields have neither been scientifically recognized nor approved. Hurricanes, which are common in the Triangle, as well as exploding methane ocean fields and huge waves mid-ocean, can also create shipping hazards. Unusual wind patterns created by the warm Gulf Stream meeting with colder surrounding air and water would certainly influence the safety of aircraft as well as ships.
Many of the supposed disappearances in this part of the ocean have now been successfully explained. The US Air Force concluded that pilot error was the cause of the loss of Flight 19. Lt. Taylor, despite being a vastly experienced pilot, was not knowledgeable about the land around Fort Lauderdale, as he had just recently arrived there from Miami. He wrongly believed that he was over the Florida Keys when he was, in fact, west of Bermuda, so each time he changed course he took his flight further out to sea instead of closer to land.
The missing PBM-Mariner was deemed to have exploded in mid-air. This was proven when Captain Shonna Stanley, also in the area aboard the SS Gaines Mills, reported seeing a flash of fire in the air at the time the Mariner went missing. The Connemara IV did not have an encounter of the third kind, and its crew did not spend time with aliens. The yacht was washed out to sea, without the crew being on board, during a hurricane. The two missing US Air Force Stratotankers were found to have collided in mid-air and crashed into the ocean.
Not only Lloyds of London but also the US Coast Guard have concurred that the Bermuda Triangle is the figment of very fertile imaginations. The number of craft lost, compared to the number of craft that regularly traverse the area, is statistically negligible.
This down-to-earth description would not satisfy the lovers of the alien theories, and it is not surprising that Gaddis never accepted the results of the official inquiries. He insisted that supernatural forces were at work and the establishment was trying to cover it up, The Telegraph reported.
In the end, it makes little difference. Flight 19 did disappear, and no trace of them has ever been found, so the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle was born, and it is unlikely to fade away anytime soon.
The idea of aliens and alien abduction sends a delicious shiver down the spine, and so long as it is fed by books and films, we will always have just that smidgen of doubt about this stretch of the North Atlantic Ocean.