I'm Bruce Gernon, and I flew through the heart of the Bermuda Triangle before I'd even heard the term. Skeptics have dismissed the Triangle as a nonmystery, but they weren't in my airplane when the fog surrounded my craft and I leaped ahead 100 miles. I documented what happened and memorized every detail of that flight.
Now I'm ready to explain that there is no Bermuda Triangle! Instead, there is a continuing mystery that has resulted in thousands of disappearances of crafts and loss of life over decades and centuries: a phenomenon I call electronic fog.
In Beyond the Bermuda Triangle, Rob MacGregor and I present multiple cases of pilots and others who have experienced electronic fog in the air, in the water, and on land. We also examine UFO and USO cases and their possible relationship with space/time warps. Among the fascinating topics we explore:
|Edition description:||First Edition|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)|
About the Author
Bruce Gernon is a certified seaplane flight instructor and a master captain with a Coast Guard license. He has appeared in 36 documentaries about the Bermuda Triangle in which he describes his space/time warp experience, often as the featured interviewee. Gernon coined the term "electronic fog." He resides in Boynton Beach, Florida, with his wife, Lynn. His website is www.ElectronicFog.com.
Rob MacGregor has published 20 novels and 24 nonfiction books, and coauthored The Fog with Bruce Gernon. An author of seven Indiana Jones novels, he has been on the New York Times Best Sellers list and won the Edgar Allan Poe Award for mystery writing for his novel Prophecy Rock. He and his wife, Trish, reside in Wellington, Florida.
Read an Excerpt
It's the largest and least-populated island in the Bahamas; larger than all the others put together. There's a mystique about the place, an island with its own mythology. Yet Andros Island is not as widely known or visited as the tourist destinations of Nassau and Freeport. It's mostly forested with hundreds of tiny islets and 178 blue holes — entrances to a vast underwater cave system that pockets the island.
I'll talk more about the island in Chapter 9, but I wanted to mention Andros right away because it's where my flight began, the one that changed my life and opened a window that I've never been able to close.
The reason I was on the island on Dec. 4, 1970, was because my father and a business partner, Chuck Layfayette, were scouting Andros as a potential location to build a resort. We had already flown here from West Palm Beach more than a dozen times and I was very familiar with the route from Andros to Bimini, to Miami Beach, then along the coast to West Palm.
Although my father was also a pilot, I was at the controls of our new Bonanza A36 that day. In fact, I had become the regular pilot on these flights. The Bonanza A36 is a stable, smooth-flying craft, and even today the Bonanza airframe remains relatively unchanged and is one of general aviation's finest performing airplanes. That was fortunate for us, because if we had left the island on a slower, less stable plane, I'm not sure we would've survived.
We had planned to take off that morning, but it was raining, so we waited until the weather improved. I've always been a cautious pilot, and even at 23 years old I wasn't a dare-devil or thrill-seeker. It was close to 3 p.m. when we were ready to take off from Andros Town Airport.
I remember that the sky was overcast and a light mist was falling. Weather information wasn't available, so I decided to get airborne, then call Miami Flight Service for atmospheric conditions. After taking off, I made a turn and looked over to the terminal, where I saw my friend, John Woolbright, waving to me. John was a mathematician at the Atlantic Undersea Test Evaluation Center (AUTEC), a U.S. Navy facility based on the island. Ironically, AUTEC would play a role in the Bermuda Triangle saga. Keep in mind, however, that at the time I didn't know anything about the mystery, and had never heard the term "Bermuda Triangle."
We climbed to 1,000 feet and assumed a compass heading of 315 degrees, which is northwest. We couldn't go any higher because of a cloud ceiling at 1,500 feet. My father was an expert navigator, as well as a pilot, so we flew the plane together on a direct route to Bimini. We tuned into the Bimini radio beacon on our automatic direction finder, and also used a magnetic compass.
We were cruising at 180 miles an hour and had been flying for about 10 minutes when the drizzle ended and the skies cleared. By then, we had reached the northwest end of Andros Island and were flying over the ocean shallows of the Great Bahama Bank. The visibility had improved from about three miles to 10 miles and the weather ahead appeared non-threatening.
As we started to gain altitude, I noticed an oval-shaped cloud directly in front of us, about two miles away. From its appearance, I assumed it was a lenticular cloud. While other clouds move across the sky with the air currents, lenticular clouds tend to remain stationary. The cloud appeared to be about a mile-and-a-half long and a thousand feet thick, with the top of it reaching an altitude of 1,500 feet.
It was white, with smooth edges, and appeared inoffensive. However, there was something unusual about it. I'd seen quite a few lenticular clouds, but never at such a low altitude. They usually are seen at high altitudes, 20,000 to 40,000 feet.
We passed over the cloud, but I couldn't spend much time looking at it because I was intent on filing my flight plan with Miami Flight Service. Miami Radio, the call sign for the flight service, offered a promising forecast. The weather would be clear between Andros and the Florida coast, with a few scattered, isolated thunderstorms of moderate intensity in South Florida. Winds were light and variable and the temperature was 75 degrees.
We were about 10 miles offshore and climbing toward our intended altitude of 10,500 feet when I noticed that the cloud we had passed was no longer a stationary lenticular cloud — if it ever was one. It had shifted into a huge, billowy, white, cumulus-shaped cloud. We were climbing at a thousand feet per minute, and the cloud seemed to be building up underneath us at the same rate that we were ascending.
It rose so quickly that it occurred to me that we were flying above a cumulonimbus cloud, one of the most dangerous clouds for a pilot to encounter, and that it was about to form a monstrous thunderhead. Chuck, who was seated in the rear, started to get nervous. He had never come this close to a cloud while flying in a small plane. I assured him that we would break free of it at any moment.
After all, we were flying at more than 100 miles an hour as we ascended, and how fast could a cloud move? The answer depends on the kind of cloud and its location. Wispy cirrus clouds can move in excess of 100 miles an hour in the jet stream at about 20,000 feet — more than three miles high. However, clouds associated with thunderstorms, like the one following us, can only travel at 30 to 40 miles an hour. So how could this cloud keep pace with us?
Several minutes passed as we continued our ascent. We had reached nearly a mile high, but somehow that cloud was still climbing with us, as if it was actually chasing us. To my surprise, the cloud caught us and engulfed the plane. How was this possible? We felt a slight updraft and visibility shrank to less than a hundred feet. After about 30 seconds, we broke free and continued our ascent.
But the cloud was still right below us, rising with us. I couldn't even get 10 yards above the cloud and, after another half-minute, it closed around us again. Suddenly, another updraft gave us an unexpected burst of acceleration that pushed us above the cloud. But after several seconds our vertical speed diminished and the cloud caught up to us again. The scenario was repeated at least five more times. Dad and Chuck were getting worried, and Dad suggested we return to Andros.
However, making a 180-degree turn would be risky. That might take us right into the storm. I was considering it when we suddenly burst free of the cloud at 11,500 feet. I leveled the Bonanza and accelerated to a cruising speed of 195 miles per hour. What I didn't realize at the time was that the cloud must have been moving horizontally at a speed of at least 105 miles an hour, as well as rising vertically. But when it stopped its horizontal movement, we escaped it.
When I looked back, I was astonished at what I saw. The small saucer-shaped cloud that we had flown over had metastasized into an immense squall. But unlike most squalls, which form a line, this cloud curved in a perfect semicircle and radiated out on either side of us. It appeared to extend at least 10 miles on our right and the same distance on the left.
After a few minutes, we left the cloud behind and continued under clear skies toward Bimini. I engaged the auto-pilot, sat back, and started to relax. Everything was back to normal, or so I thought. I didn't realize that the challenge was just beginning and we hadn't escaped at all.
Lindy's Lost Flight
Before I continue with my story, I want to tell you about another flight through the Bermuda Triangle by one of the most celebrated pilots of all time. Charles Lindbergh became famous for making the first solo transatlantic flight in his plane, Spirit of St. Louis, on May 20–21, 1927. He was 25 years old and had only been flying for four years when he made the flight from New York to Paris.
However, in spite of his celebrity status — or maybe because of it — Lindbergh remained silent about a flight he made nine months later when he encountered conditions that puzzled him for the rest of his life. The story finally became known four years after his death, when his autobiography was published in 1978.
Lindbergh took off at 1:35 a.m. on Feb. 13, 1928, on the last leg of an around-the-Gulf-and-Caribbean tour. He would fly from Havana to St. Louis in what, for him, should have been a long, but routine flight. It would also be the first-ever direct flight between the two cities. "It should've been an easy flight — about a third the distance from New York to Paris," he wrote in his 1978 book, Autobiography of Values. However, that's not what happened.
He climbed to an altitude of 4,000 feet and settled back to enjoy the night flight. "But halfway across the Straits of Florida my magnetic compass started rotating, and the earth–inductor-compass needle jumped back and forth erratically. By that time, a haze had formed, screening off horizons."
Only one other time had he seen two compasses fail simultaneously. That was during a storm in the Atlantic en route to Paris, and his magnetic compass only oscillated back and forth, so he was able to calculate his direction by the central point of the oscillation. But this time the magnetic compass spun in circles and the inductor compass was useless. "I had no idea whether I was flying north, south, east, or west."
Lindbergh started climbing toward the clear sky that just minutes before had been above him. If he could find Polaris, he could navigate by the stars. But the haze thickened as he gained altitude. So he descended to less than a thousand feet, but the haze followed him and he could barely see the ocean.
Just before dawn, he spotted a shadowy island and assumed that he'd reached the Florida Keys. But after crossing a narrow body of water, Lindbergh saw a long coastline bending to the right, the opposite way that the land curved on his map of Florida. "But if I was not flying over a Florida key, where could I be? Was it possible I had returned to Cuba, that my attempt to read the twirling compasses had put me one-hundred-eighty degrees off course?"
The coastline ended and he saw more keys ahead. He realized that if he wasn't over the Florida Keys, he was over the Bahamas. That meant he had been flying at a 90-degree angle from his proper heading and that he was about 300 miles off course. Once the sun was high enough above the horizon, he determined east and headed through the haze in the opposite direction, toward the Florida coast. The magnetic compass stopped rotating as soon as he reached the mainland. He passed by dozens of heavy squalls as he moved through Florida and Georgia, and headed on to St. Louis to complete his flight.
Lindbergh never talked publicly about his strange experience in what was to become known as the Bermuda Triangle. No doubt he survived the experience because of his incredible abilities as a pilot. That flight would be merely an interesting footnote to his flying career and celebrated life, and nothing more, were it not for the fact that he documented a case of an aeronautical encounter with a rare but often deadly phenomenon that remains a scientific anomaly.
Forty-two years later, I encountered a similar fog. In some respects, my flight was even more harrowing than Lindbergh's. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
After a few minutes of flying under clear skies and moving closer and closer to Bimini, we noticed a squall forming in front of us. As we approached the cloud, moving at about three miles a minute, an eerie sight unfolded. To my consternation, the cloud looked very much like the one we had left behind. It had a similar curving, semi- circular shape, except the arms extended in the opposite direction, as if attempting to embrace us. The cloud was enormous, its top reaching at least 40,000 feet.
Then I noticed something else that stunned me: Normal cumulus clouds have a base or ceiling, 1,000 to 2,000 feet above the surface. If the cloud is producing rain, the base is usually at about 1,000 feet and sometimes as low as 400 or 500 hundred feet. But, as we flew within a few miles of the cloud, I saw that this cloud appeared to emanate directly from the ocean.
I realized that we couldn't go under the cloud or above it, and attempting to circumvent it would take us considerably off our flight path. Besides, the arms of the cloud were already stretching out on either side of us, so we couldn't make an easy escape. However, the cloud didn't look too threatening, so after conferring with Dad, I decided to fly into it.
I had flown under clouds in heavy rain and I had penetrated them while flying with instrument-rated pilots. But pilots are supposed to steer clear of strong thunderstorms, and the 10,000foot level was supposed to be the most dangerous altitude to fly through a storm. I had been told that there could be updrafts and downdrafts in excess of 100 miles an hour in the heart of a thunderstorm cell.
We were about 45 miles east of Bimini when we entered the misty edges of this enormous cloud formation. Once inside, I realized I might have made a mistake. Although the cloud was white and fluffy on the outside, the interior was dark, as if night suddenly had fallen. But it didn't stay dark for long. Bright white flashes lit up the interior of the cloud. They seemed to go on and off in a never-ending, random pattern, and the deeper we penetrated, the more intense the flashes became.
Even though there were no bolts of lightning, I had no doubt that we had entered an electrical storm. We were in trouble and I was getting more concerned by the second. When my father asked if I was going to continue on, I shook my head. I immediately turned 135 degrees and assumed a due south heading.
We were all wearing watches and noted that we were deviating from our course at 3:27 p.m. An electric-powered clock on the panel, which included a timer that I had engaged upon takeoff, indicated that we had been airborne for 27 minutes. When we changed course, my father started the timer on his watch, and by using the plane's navigational equipment, he calculated that we were 40 miles southeast of Bimini. Meanwhile, I contacted Miami Radio and told them that we had altered our course to avoid a thunderstorm and were attempting to fly around it.
We were still concerned about our situation, but we thought we might be able to avoid the semicircular-shaped cloud to the south by flying around it. However, after traveling six or seven miles we could see that the cloud continued on our left to the east. A couple minutes later, we realized we were in serious trouble. Astonishingly, the cloud that we had encountered near Andros was now connected with the second storm cloud. As far as I could tell, the enormous cloud encircled us. I estimated that the diameter of the opening was about 30 miles. We were trapped inside a huge donut hole, a billowing prison with no way out. We couldn't fly over it. We couldn't fly under it.
A Perilous Escape
Now I was really getting worried, but I knew I needed to remain calm. When I tried to understand how we had gotten into this predicament, a stray thought came to mind: I remembered my mother telling me numerous times as I grew up that I had been born during the largest, most powerful thunderstorm that she had ever witnessed. Now here I was inside what might be the last thunderstorm I would ever encounter.
It seemed that the storm was created initially from a saucer-shaped cloud just offshore of Andros Island. It had rapidly spread outward, forming the donut hole, when it connected with a similar cloud. I recalled what it was like inside the thunderstorm, and I definitely didn't want to fly back into the powerful storm cell.
We had flown about 10 miles from the point where we turned south when I noticed an opening in the massive cloud. At the top of the cloud, on either side, the arms extended outward above the opening. It looked as if the arms would soon connect, creating a bridge and forming a tunnel. The anvil shape is commonly seen in cumulonimbus thunderstorms as they reach maturity. The top typically spreads outward for several miles at 35,000 feet. Normally, I would stay clear of any anvil-shaped clouds, but our situation required drastic action.
Faced with the dilemma we were in, I felt that I had no choice but to turn the aircraft 90 degrees to the right and try to exit through the cloud by way of the only visible opening. As we flew toward the aperture, we saw the two anvil heads connect, forming a tunnel that was about a mile wide and appeared to be between 10 and 15 miles long. Its center was at our altitude of 10,000 feet. On the far side of the passage, we could see blue sky. That gave us hope.
As we neared the tunnel, we realized that its diameter was shrinking. So I took the engine up to maximum power. By the time we were three miles away, the opening was only about a thousand feet wide. I recalled what my first flight instructor, Charles Galanza, told us in class one night: Sometimes in the higher altitudes, usually above 5,000 feet, long horizontal tunnels sometimes formed in storm clouds. He called them "sucker holes," and warned us never to fly through them. He said he knew of pilots who had tried the feat and were never seen again. I assumed he meant that they had crashed into the ocean and disappeared.
We were still two miles away when the opening shrank to 500 feet. But there was no turning back. We were committed. As we approached the opening, the aperture was about 300 feet wide and still shrinking.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Beyond the Bermuda Triangle"
Copyright © 2017 Bruce Gernon and Rob MacGregor.
Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 The Journey 15
Chapter 2 Bermuda Past 33
Chapter 3 Triangulating the Mystery 47
Chapter 4 The Lore of Flight 19 61
Chapter 5 Dragon's Triangle 85
Chapter 6 The Power of Electronic Fog 103
Chapter 7 The Fog Beyond 123
Chapter 8 Close Encounters of the Bermuda Triangle Kind 141
Chapter 9 Return to Andros 151
Chapter 10 Space-Time Warps 167
Chapter 11 Building a Warp Drive 179
Chapter 12 Remote Viewing the Triangle 193
Chapter 13 The Mystery Beyond 211
About the Authors 223