March 25, 2009 — -- It's one of the world's most enduring mysteries that has lasted for the last three centuries and been charged with the disappearance of more than 2,000 sea vessels and 200 airplanes.
The Bermuda Triangle, which spans from Bermuda to Puerto Rico and over to the Miami-Fort Lauderdale coast, comprises half a million square miles of infamous seas.
Inquisitive minds have questioned whether the supernatural or actual science is to blame for all the area's mysteries. The subject has sparked books, articles and Web sites.
Legend has it that explorer Christopher Columbus was the first to report strange happenings in the area in 1492. According to ship's logs, Columbus said the compasses could not maintain a constant bearing, and that the North Star appeared to move.
Since then, thousands have reported eerie incidents around the Bermuda Triangle, including one last December when a twin-engine plane with 12 people vanished on its way to Mayaguana Island in the Bahamas.
One of the region's most perplexing incidents happened just off the U.S. coast and sparked and enduring legend. In 1945, five torpedo bombers took off into the skies from the U.S. Naval air station in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on a routine training mission that became the now infamous "Flight 19."
"Five avenger bombers who left Lauderdale on Dec. 5, 1945 -- leave in the late afternoon and they are never heard of again," said meteorologist Dave Pares.
Rough weather, compasses spun uncontrollably by an unknown force and a disoriented flight leader helped seal the aircrafts' fates. The fleet disappeared without a trace.
Like all the other mysterious vanishing acts in the Bermuda Triangle, Flight 19 sparked debate among people who tried to determine what had occurred.
"I believe all of these incidents have scientific explanations," said Hans Graber, of the Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. He believes rogue waves are to blame.
Rough Weather Could Contribute to Mystery
Rogue waves are a massive pile up of ocean swells that can stand five times the size of regular waves and take shape fast, with little warning to victims.
The Bermuda Triangle is home to some of the roughest weather at sea, and Graber said one rogue wave could submerge ships and planes entirely.
"The Bermuda Triangle, simply by its geographic locations, with the gulfstream, with the island of Bermuda itself, is prone to where you can have rogue waves occur," he said,
While Graber looks to the waves to explain the triangle's mysteries, Bruce Gernon, author of "The Fog: A Never Before Published Theory of the Bermuda Triangle Phenomenon," thinks there's something else at work.
In his book, he details an experience he said he had while flying off the Florida coast in 1970, when he claims he flew into an "electronic fog" and time traveled.
"Some of the instruments were malfunctioning. The wet compass was spinning slowly, counter-clockwise all by itself. The electronic navigational instruments were all malfunctioning," Gernon said. "And at the same time, I traveled 30 minutes through time."
Gernon said what pulled him into the fog was the same force that's swallowed others into the Bermuda Triangle's black hole, and he thinks he was just lucky to get out.
David Parest, a professor of meteorology of the University of Nebraska who has studied Gernon's experience and other incidents in the Bermuda Triangle, said similar conditions were at work in all of the cases, and ultimately, it is the weather that is to blame.
"The cases I have analyzed, over 87 percent of these missing aircraft all have the same identical weather conditions," Parest said.
So, is it science or the supernatural at work? We may never know.