Do Pilots Actually Avoid Flying Over the Bermuda Triangle?

If you've traveled to the Caribbean, you've probably flown over the mythical region.

Aerial View Of Bermuda Triangle Against Sky
Photo: James Gass/EyeEm/Getty Images

The Bermuda Triangle has always been shrouded in mystery. It's a place of alien abductions, strange disappearances, and ghostly sightings, so naturally people get a little nervous when they think about flying over it.

What is the Bermuda Triangle?

Also known as the Devil's Triangle, this area of the Atlantic Ocean has been credited for causing mass disappearances and a number of wrecks over the years. While people love to throw around conspiracy theories about each of these Bermuda Triangle stories, there may be perfectly logical explanations for all of them.

Still, the superstition continues around this relatively small slice of ocean, so much so that some people refuse to travel around it. Despite the spooky stories, you'd be surprised at how many times people have sailed or flown over the area and not noticed anything out of the ordinary.

Where is the Bermuda Triangle?

The Bermuda Triangle is an area of the Atlantic Ocean that doesn't necessarily have an agreed-upon boundary, but it is generally considered to be the area bounded by the southeastern coast of the U.S., Bermuda, and the islands of Cuba, Hispaniola, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico. According to some calculations, the area makes up anywhere between 500,000 and 1.5 million square miles and is trianglelike in shape. It's a pretty big area of ocean, in general, though relatively small considering the ocean covers about 70% of Earth's surface.

There's no telling how many ships or planes have "disappeared" in the Bermuda Triangle, but the U.S. Navy estimates that around 50 ships and 20 aircraft have gone missing there. Despite these figures, data does not show that disappearances are more likely in this spot. There are two incidents that are considered mysteries of the Bermuda Triangle, specifically the disappearances of Flight 19 in 1945 and the USS Cyclops in 1918. There is no clear indication that these disappearances have anything to do with the supernatural, but they are still unexplained.

Why do things disappear in the Bermuda Triangle?

Conspiracy theorists have proposed many different, though mostly superstitious and inconceivable, reasons as to why disappearances and disasters occur in the Bermuda Triangle. Some have theorized that the area is a hotbed of alien activity, positing that these extraterrestrial beings are abducting humans for study. Alien theorists have considered this spot to be a sort of maritime Area 51. Others have suggested that it's the real-life location of the lost continent of Atlantis, therefore making it a portal to another dimension.

The most likely culprit for these mysteries isn't really a mystery at all. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, most scientific explanations include the many tropical storms and hurricanes that pass through this area, along with the Gulf Stream Current, which can cause sudden and extreme changes in the weather. There may even be some evidence that suggests that this area has a particular geomagnetic anomaly that can cause a ship or plane's navigation to point to "true" north rather than "magnetic" north, the NOAA says. This can lead to navigation failure, though it should be noted that magnetic anomalies are found all over the world and are not exclusive to this area.

Other theories also include explosive methane gas that can float up to the water's surface, causing ships to sink, and simple human error. In the case of Flight 19, the Navy says it's most likely that the squadron of bombers ran out of fuel and crashed into the ocean. It's a tragic disaster, but it may not be a true mystery.

The superstitions and stories still prevail, mostly because this area is perceived to have more disappearances or tragic accidents than other parts of the world. However, this is actually untrue. The World Wildlife Fund found the most dangerous waters on the planet, but the Bermuda Triangle isn't one of them. In fact, it's not even mentioned in the report.

Do pilots actually avoid it?

Considering the superstition surrounding the Bermuda Triangle, many people assume that airline pilots actively avoid this area of the ocean. Of course, anyone who has flown from Miami to San Juan, Puerto Rico, probably knows that's not true. In fact, if it were, pretty much everyone's Caribbean vacation would be ruined. A check on Flightradar24 will show that there are many flights crisscrossing the Bermuda Triangle, so it's clear that the area is not actively avoided.

In terms of navigation, flights are constantly monitored by air traffic control, so pilots have support if there is a navigation failure. Weather conditions are also closely tracked every time a plane is scheduled to take off. Accidents, of course, still happen, but not any more so than in other parts of the world.

Investigating Bermuda Triangle conspiracy theories, in general, is more of a paranormal pursuit than a scientific one, so if there are any pilots who do avoid the Bermuda Triangle, they are probably just interested in the supernatural or UFOs. While entertaining these theories can certainly be fun, you can rest assured that the airline industry definitely doesn't plan its routes around campfire stories.

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