The Sun and the Moon
tricked Flight 19
disappearance of the five Navy Avenger planes on December 5, 1945 I hold the
leading theory. It states the sun and later the moon disoriented the pilots,
thereby causing all their deaths. First the low to the horizon late afternoon sun sold the illusion it was setting South, which is impossible because the sun always sets West. Then around 6pm a 29-hour old moon made its first appearance just prior to setting West. They thought it was rising East and according to the JAG transcript they turned around 180 degrees beyond the point of no return and flew out to sea to their graves. From 3:15pm to 6:15pm was the worst three hour period for navigation in three years... 1 - 25,000 rare anomally of the sun and moon!
The pilots first
got disorientated around 3:40PM when they began heading West back to Ft.
Lauderdale after a practice bombing mission over the Bahamas. It was a
triangular mission East to the Chicken and Hen Shoals and North to the Great
Sale Cay and then back to Ft. Lauderdale. On the final leg back to Ft.
Lauderdale the sun had a S/SW compass heading, as it is furthest South for
the year in December.
Then at around 6PM
the moon gave the illusion it was rising. On 1 day after the new moon when it
happened the moon was 29 hours old and it gave off a rising East illusion. It is an especially effective illusion over water where they are no landmarks.
The moon is so frail now that it looks like a few scattered lights around its
lower border. It is only visible for the first time around the horizon, about
twenty minutes before it sets West. People can easily think the moon was
rising instead of setting because it first appears around the horizon
setting. The moon like the sun always rises East and sets West. You could now
think that East is West and West is East. This is a very nasty illusion
I am sure this is
what happened to the five missing Avenger planes and the Official JAG
transcript bears it out. After flying in circles for an hour and a-half on
their final leg back to Ft. Lauderdale and at 5:10 the lead pilot stated they
were heading West which they did for 56 minutes. And when they were beyond
the point of no return they turned around 180 degrees at 6:06PM and flew East
out to sea to their deaths.
The lead pilot
Captain Charles Taylor likely thought the moon was rising (East) and they
distrusted their compasses and knew they had to go West. This is from the
official Navy Jag transcript…
5:10PM Captain Taylor… We are now heading West.
6:04PM Captain Taylor... Holding West course. Should be able to see a light.
6:06PM This is Taylor... Turn around and fly East until we run out of gas.
At 6PM the moon was
29 hours old and it would set West at 6:29PM.
To test my theory
go to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida in December and check the position of the sun
at 3:30PM. It will appear low to the horizon S/SW. The tower kept telling
them to follow the setting sun and head West. The tower was wrong.
At 6:04 PM three
remote occurrences took place simultaneously:
1. Captain Charles
Taylor spoke of a strange light or lights (29 hour old moon).
2. The moon gave a very rare 180 degree illusion.
3. An experienced combat pilot beyond the point of no return turns completely
around (180 degrees) and flies out to sea knowing they would have to ditch.
How I got involved
I first heard about
the five missing Avenger planes in 1991 when I read article by Warren Richie
in the Ft. Lauderdale Sun Sentinel. It told how similar planes were found off
the coast of Florida and that the Navy was trying to determine if this was
the infamous Lost Patrol.
The article was
intriguing and quite detailed and stated that there was no moon the night the
Lost Patrol disappeared. I routinely looked up the moon phase for the evening
of December 5, 1945, which I learned was 1 day after the new moon. I
immediately realized there likely was a visible moon that night. I know that
the moon can be seen with the naked eye after it is just 20 hours old. Since
this took place on 1 day after the new moon in the evening, I felt the moon
was more than 24 hours old. I also knew that this moon phase zeniths around
1PM and the moon had to set after 6PM.
I decided to
investigate further. I wrote to NOAA (The National Oceanographic and
Atmospheric Administration) and they sent me information from their East
Coast Tide Tables for 1945, which is based upon data from the American
Ephermeris and Nautical Almanac. I learned that on the evening of December 5,
1945 at 6PM the moon was exactly 29 hours old. I then looked up the times for
sunset, moon set and the weather for that day, using microfilm of the Miami
Herald. Sunset was at 5:29PM, moon set was at 6:29PM and the weather was
The official report
which said there was no moon was incorrect. There was no moon to speak of,
but a visible moon none the less. I wrote to the Department of the Navy and
they sent me the microfilm of the official JAG report. I learned that at
3:30PM when the first distress call was made that the tower kept telling them
to follow the sun and head West. Well the sun had a S/SW heading and was
around 60 degrees South of due West.
Charles Taylor likely thought how can the low to the horizon late afternoon
sun appear to be in the South? That could disorient anyone. This is why he
got instantly disorientated and thought his compasses were out when they made
the left turn from the Bahamas towards Ft. Lauderdale.
After reading the
Jag report I figured out that at 6:06PM which was the moment when the planes
turned around and flew East out to sea beyond the point of no return, that
the moon was visible as a row of lights. It would give off a 180 degree
illusion (rising East illusion) then. It was setting West, not rising East
and they had to go West. But they distrusted their compasses and thought the
moon was rising East. This lunar illusion put the nail in their coffins. I
then realized I solved this mystery and with a smoking gun. Of course I felt
obligated to pursue it.
I contacted the
most knowledgeable astronomer I knew of Dr. David Menke. He was the Director
of Buehler Planetarium in Davie, Florida. Dr. Menke studied my data and
concurred with my astronomical calculations and hypothesis relating to the
disappearance of the five Avenger planes. He graciously held a press
conference in the planetarium on December 15, 1993. Using the overhead
projector he detailed the positions and images of the sun and moon that day
and told the media ...
Hyman’s theory goes a long way in explaining a mystery that has been blamed
on the legend of the Bermuda Triangle. We as astronomers don’t try to explain
supernatural things. This isn’t magic. This isn’t make-believe. This is a
reasonable explanation of what happened”.
conference was covered by News Radio WINZ, The Miami Herald, The Tropical
Tribune, The Palm Beach Post, The Ft. Lauderdale Sun Sentinel and WSVN TV
Channel 7 (Mark Ludner and Rick Sanchez). I also spoke at a symposium on the
Bermuda Triangle by the Ft Lauderdale Historical Society and was a member of
the Ft Lauderdale Naval Air Station Historical Association.