The Lost Patrol
December 5, 1945 - It was on this day that five torpedo bombers disappeared off the coast of Florida. The mysterious case has become one of the most celebrated legends of the Bermuda Triangle.
Flight 19 was a training exercise with five TBM Avengers. The planned 2-hour mission was to fly due east from Fort Lauderdale to some offshore shoals where low-level bombing practice would be performed. They would then cut left across the Bahamas, then make another hard left back to the mainland.
Despite sunny skies and no reports of engine trouble, something went terribly wrong. Two hours and 45 minutes after takeoff the flight leader contacted the Fort Lauderdale base.
Cannot see land. We seem to be off course. We cannot be sure where we are. Repeat: Cannot see land.
Another ten minutes passed before communication was restored. This time the voices heard are from the other pilots, as apparently the flight leader has relinquished command. The men sound scared and confused.
We can't find west. Everything is wrong. We can't be sure of any direction. Everything looks strange, even the ocean.
Twenty minutes later, the situation is even more frantic.
We can't tell where we are ... everything is ... can't make out anything. We think we may be about 225 miles northeast of base ... It looks like we are entering white water ... We're completely lost.
And those were the last words ever heard from Flight 19. Various ships and planes were dispatched to search for the missing patrol. One of the planes in the rescue mission was a PBM Mariner flying boat with a crew of 13. Adding to the mysterious events, this flight also disappeared.
No trace of the 14 men on Flight 19 or the 13 men on the flying boat were ever found. No wreackage was recovered. An oil slick was found in the area where the flying boat may have crashed, but that's the only physical evidence related to the mystery.
Most investigators believe that Lieutenant Charles Taylor, the leader of Flight 19, became disoriented and steered the planes on a northeastern course when it should have been moving westward. Taylor had complained of a faulty compass. The theory is that once the mistake was realized, it may have been too late to make it back to the mainland before running out of fuel.
It's either that or...who knows?