On 5th December 1945 five American Navy TBN Avenger torpedo bombers set off from Air Station in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. All planes were in a good condition and were fully fueled. All five planes with 14 crewmen have mysteriously disappeared over the Bermuda. One of the planes sent on a search mission, PBM Mariner also disappeared shortly after taking off, possibly exploding mid-air.
The Flight 19 became known as the Lost Patrol, because the planes never came back and U.S Navy’s final investigation report could not establish an incident cause or explain what had really happened. Flight 19 became one of the greatest mysteries of the 20th century. No one knows what had happened and we still cannot explain the events. Was this just a pilots mistake or maybe this incident is related to the other, numerous ones in the Bermuda Triangle?
Flight 19 was a training flight of 5 planes and 14 crew. The pilots took off at 14:08 on 5th December 1945. They were meant to fly easy navigational pattern over the northern Bahamas. It should have lasted about 2 hours and 15 minutes. The flight instructor leading the bombers was Lieutenant Charles Carroll Taylor, having more than 2500 hours of flight time.
At one point, at about an hour and 30 minutes into the flight, something happened. The radio conversation between the pilots was picked up by not only base but also the other aircrafts in the area. One of the pilots, Captain Powers when asked for his compass reading, answered, he doesn’t know where they were and they must have got lost. Another flight instructor, Lieutenant Robert F. Cox answered to that, asking for the pilot to identify himself. A few moments later Charles C. Taylor, Lieutenant in charge of the training mission stated that his both compasses were broken and he was trying to find a way back to Fort Lauderdale. He stated he was over land. Shortly afterwards another strange and mysterious message followed : “Everything looks strange, even the ocean”. Another voice added : “It looks like we’re entering white water. We’re completely lost”.
The last message was received at approximately 18:20. There was only silence later on. When it was realised that the flight was lost all nearby bases and units were alerted. A flying boat PBY Catalina was dispatched to search for the missing planes and later on, after dark – two PBM Mariner seaplanes. One of them, with 13 crew on board, disappeared itself. USS Salomons, an escort carrier, reported loosing radar contact with the Mariner at approximately 21.15 and at the same time the tanker SS Gaines Mills reported possible explosion and flames at the position the contact was lost.
In the aftermath, around 700,000 sq km was searched by the navy and coastguard, but found nothing at all. Not even a sign of oil was found, let alone any wreckage. Final report was inconclusive, with investigators unable able to guess what could have happened.
The planes have disappeared in Bermuda, fueling stories about the mysterious ” Bermuda Triangle”. Some authors suggest that the mysterious disappearance was simply caused by Taylor hopelessly lost but it needs to be remembered that the man in charge was an officer with more than 2500 hours of flying experience. The weather could have been another factor, as when the planes took off it was sunny, but the weather started to deteriorate as storm clouds were building on the horizon. Certain investigators claim that Taylor complained about his compasses being broken and not replaced nor repaired. Another factor could be Taylor’s unfamiliarity with the Fort Lauderdale topography,as it was his maiden flight out of this base.
Number of Avengers was raised from the seabed, but despite several claims, none of them was related to Flight 19.
Number of conspiracy theorists claim that it is probably one of the most spectacular examples of abduction by UFOs.