Sep 22, 2018 I Micah Hanks

These Flight Incident Reports Tell of Odd Occurrences Over the Famous Bermuda Triangle

For centuries, people have reported strange things going on in Earth's oceans, although perhaps there is no purported location where more strange activity is said to occur than the famous Bermuda Triangle.

Spanning an area between the coastal tips of Puerto Rico, Florida, and its namesake, Bermuda, the area roughly identified as the Bermuda Triangle has been recognized as an alleged "paranormal hotspot" for a number of decades. Popular articles on vanishing incidents that occurred in the region began to appear in newspapers and adventure magazines in the 1950s, which often played up the sensational idea of "mysterious" circumstances surrounding the disappearances that occurred there.

Modern researchers often note, however, that much of the hype about disappearances in the so-called "Triangle" is somewhat overblown. Things like whether or not a sailing vessel or aircraft disappearance falls into the broader "Bermuda Triangle" mystery often depends on the interpretation of the author in question, more than any clearly designated area where anomalies appear to be prevalent.

All of that said, I don't personally ascribe much significance to claims about the Bermuda Triangle, although I do enjoy the novelty of occasional incidents, and even technical reports that turn up, which insinuate odd things about this area of the Atlantic. Equally novel is where some of these reports have been found.

Back in 2013, I wrote a book called The Ghost Rockets which dealt with reports of missile or torpedo-like objects seen by pilots and crew aboard commercial airliners. Toward the end of the book, I devoted a chapter to incident reports gleaned from NASA's Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS), which allows pilots and other aviation professionals to log incident reports about possible aviation hazards anonymously (the anonymous reporting is intended to encourage people to file the reports, by removing threat of litigation and protecting general privacy of the observers).

The vast majority of reports filed with the ASRS have to do with mundane things, although occasionally there are some pretty hair-raising accounts given of things like near mid-air collisions and the like. Far less often, one may find things of a slightly stranger nature amidst the ASRS reports available online... and yes, at least a couple of these have to do with the famous Bermuda Triangle.

One such report was logged in April 2011 by the captain of an Airbus A319 aircraft, who described a technical issue the aircraft logged while en route to Bermuda, which required them to return to their departure airport. The report read as follows (with explanations for various acronyms and other technical terms enclosed in parentheses):

About halfway to Bermuda, we got (a Navigation Air Data Reference) 1 fault and (Ground Proximity Warning System) fault on the ECAM (electronic centralized aircraft monitor). After going through the ECAM procedures and reviewing the (quick reference handbook), and the non-normal supplemental manual, we still had no Captain (primary flight display) or (navigational display) information. We talked with Dispatch and Maintenance through phone patch and they suggested we return. Uneventful landing and review of computer printout showed loss of both (Air Data Reference) 1 and (Inertial Reference) 1.

All technical information about this in-flight anomaly aside, the reporter concluded by saying that, "I wouldn't know why this occurred. Maybe we were too close to the Bermuda Triangle."

In all likelihood, this was merely a playful reference to the lore associated with the area (keep in mind that the pilot in question was flight to Bermuda at the time, and hence the likely association). However, this is by no means the only ASRS report dealing with the unusual phenomenon that is often associated with the Bermuda Triangle.

In the following incident report, logged in May of 2016, the captain of a Boeing 737-NG filed a report after his Inertial Reference System showed "significant position errors" while traversing the Bermuda Triangle. The details of the 2016 report are as follows: 

This report is NOT meant as a joke. Following an uneventful flight to SJU, on the return flight (with the same aircraft) we received several "VERIFYPOS: IRS-IRS" (Inertial Reference System) scratch pad messages. Checking POS SHIFT page three/three, we confirmed that our IRS position errors were significant. During this flight, the L IRS position error varied from two to five NM; the R IRS error varied from three to eleven NM. This did not cause any operational problems because our ANP stayed below 0.07 with very tight GPS and RADIO cross tuning accuracy. This defect was recorded in the aircraft logbook at [destination].


I did not think much more about it until I got home and my wife asked "Any issues today flying thru the Bermuda Triangle?" I never thought about such a coincidence during the flight, but we were within the southern edge of that area. If anyone is seriously tracking empirical data on navigation errors in that area, please pass on this report. I wonder if (Company) has any data on other navigational issues between CONUS and SJU, MDPC or MYNN? I have never seen such IRS accuracy errors in 22 years of operating this aircraft.

Unlike the earlier report, the captain who logged this incident report with the ASRS appears to have been quite serious about possible connections between the instrumental anomalies he experienced, and the location of the aircraft at the time they occurred. He concluded by saying, "If anyone is seriously tracking navigation anomalies within the 'Bermuda Triangle', please forward this report." 

While the majority of alleged disappearances and anomalies associated with this famous region of the Atlantic Ocean can be fairly easily ruled out as sensation or hype, there is at least a modicum of detailed technical reporting on the subject, as the two reports referenced here indicate, which might suggest something interesting about the region. But rather than being paranormal in nature, my guess would be that any supposed disturbance which may affect avionics like this would stem from the more plausible realms of geophysical or atmospheric phenomena... and if that were so, it could indicate a more down-to-earth reason for some of the oddities that have been associated with the Bermuda Triangle over the years.

Micah Hanks
Micah Hanks is a writer, podcaster, and researcher whose interests cover a variety of subjects. His areas of focus include history, science, philosophy, current events, cultural studies, technology, unexplained phenomena, and ways the future of humankind may be influenced by science and innovation in the coming decades. In addition to writing, Micah hosts the Middle Theory and Gralien Report podcasts.

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