Every year dozens of craft are lost at sea. In the coastal waters of the United States alone, the toll of disappearing ships hovers around 25 a year. Some are the victims of navigational error of mechanical failure. Others are destroyed by turbulent weather conditions. But once in a whole a ship or plane vanishes in mysterious circumstances, often without leaving a trace of wreckage. It is these sorts of inexplicable events that stir our imagination and become the material from which legends are born.
Researchers into bizarre and incredible phenomena have identified a number of places in the world where a disturbing number of mysterious events have occurred. They refer to these regions as ‘flap’ zones, for it is as if a flap, or tear, in the normal fabric of the universe occurs here from time to time, causing the ordinary laws of time and space to be flouted. In Flap zones, strange electrical storms are encountered while compasses whirl crazily as if trapped in swirling magnetic fields. Here too, UFOs are sighted, while physical objects vanish and time seems to stand still.
The most famous flap zone of them all is the Bermuda Triangle. Vincent Gaddis, the writer who first coined the name in 1963, described the region as a place that has far more than its statistically fair share of mysterious events. The Bermuda Triangle describes a vast area of the Atlantic Ocean whose corners are in Bermuda, Puerto Rico and the southern tip of Florida. However, some people use the name much more loosely to mean the region of ocean that extends east to the Azores and south as far as Trinidad.
Ever since the 16th century the Bermuda Triangle has been a place of heavy traffic. It lay across the main routes of the Spanish bullion fleets, of slave traders and of the rum merchants who roamed the Caribbean. Today, the US Coast Guard estimates that about 150,000 ships of all descriptions pass through the region every year as well as thousands of commercial and private planes. Although one would expect a fair share of accidents amid such a volume of traffic, the outstanding thing about the Bermuda Triangle is that so many of the accidents defy logical explanation.
Skeptics like to point out that one never hears, for example, of disappearing buses, or railroad cars. Could it be too convenient that such anomalous regions as the Bermuda triangle exist in locations where we cannot study them closely?