Unexplained Airplane Disappearances – The Bermuda Triangle

On January 31, 1948, a British passenger plane, the Star Tiger, disappeared somewhere in the Bermuda Triangle. The Tudor IV aircraft were a relatively new design of the British South American Airways Corporation, having spent about 500 hours in the air, but with no history of mechanical or structural failure. They had been flown successfully during the Berlin airlift, and were part of a transatlantic fleet with routes to Bermuda, the West Indies, and the coast of South America.

The plane left England on January 30, 1948 with 25 passengers on a long flight scheduled to arrive around 5 am the next day in Bermuda. One of the passengers of note, Air Marshall Sir Arthur Coningham, was a British World War II hero, having served as Commander in Chief during the Battle of Normandy. After refueling at Santa Maria Island in the Azores, the flight continued with no apparent problems. Although the Tudor aircraft was airtight and capable of much higher altitudes, the Star Tiger was flying low at 2,000 feet to avoid the headwinds from the Gulf Stream. The pilot and crew were highly experienced, and the runway at their destination was clearly lit and visible from 30 miles away. Everything seemed in order, according to the last contact with the plane’s radio operator at 3:15 am; yet, the plane and its passengers disappeared and were never seen or heard from again.

A ship at sea, the S.S. Troubadour, reported an airplane flying at a low altitude between Bermuda and Delaware Bay. It is doubtful, however, that this was the Star Tiger, since it would have been way off course. Extensive investigations by the British Civil Air Ministry were conducted, but no plausible explanation could be found for the disappearance. The possibility of low fuel or engine failure at this stage of the flight would not have been a factor, as the aircraft could have flown on three or even two engines for the short remaining distance. With no problems in weather, atmospheric conditions, visibility, or the aircraft itself, what happened so quickly to the Star Tiger remains a mystery to this day.

One year later, a similar British Tudor IV aircraft, the Star Ariel, disappeared on January 17, 1949 in the Bermuda Triangle. The Star Ariel was awaiting flight instructions in Bermuda, when it was called upon to replace another plane and take 13 passengers to Kingston, Jamaica. At 8:41 am, the flight left Kindley Field in Bermuda in perfect weather. About an hour into the flight, the pilot radioed in his position at 18,000 feet and estimated arrival time in Kingston at 2:10 pm. The Star Ariel had virtually unlimited visibility both above and far below to the Sargasso Sea.

One interesting, unexplainable factor was later considered, however. Throughout the day, communication had been poor, with unidentifiable static and loss of reception for short intervals on certain channels in the area. Some experts think it possible that a distress message sent by the pilot might have been lost, or intercepted, but others disagree. In any event, the communication problems mysteriously disappeared about an hour before the Star Ariel would have arrived in Bermuda. Extensive searches by British aircraft and U.S. Navy planes and ships came up empty. No trace of the 7-member crew, the passengers, or the wreckage was ever found.

The disappearances of the Star Tiger and Star Ariel in less than a year’s time and in the same approximate location may well have been just a coincidence. Even so, they were not the first and would not be the last mystery of the “Devil’s Triangle.”

(Note: As a result of these two losses, the Tudor aircraft were withdrawn from service.)

Sharon Slayton

Filed Under: Travel mysteries

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Comments (3)

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  1. David M.Blincoe says:

    It is an interesting articale, I wonder how it was handled back in the day. Were the facts asscued or did the news not even explain the circumstances of the area, the way they do today.

  2. warron says:

    do planes still fly in this area, and if so how meany have come up missing.

  3. Tristan says:

    Its just eery and creepy… imagine how the people felt when whatever happened to them happened. I do maintain that, especially for smaller or older aircraft, that all it takes is a sharp pocket of turbulent air, which can even occur in seemingly docile weather. Remember even today meteorologists cant measure vertical motion everywhere at everytime. It could just a few seconds for things to break or go wrong preventing and old fashioned distress radio, and the deep seas can swallow and destroy everything that goes into it within minutes. Those planes were thick and heavy and its probable that not much would float out and up to the surface to be found later.

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