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1978
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Missing Aircraft

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 Stratotankers

  In a number of incidents in the Bermuda Triangle a recurrent theme is apparent: unexplained “turbulence” or “forces.” These cannot be predicted by current weather radars. The skies are clear, and the aircraft are at various altitudes. Since this catches passenger airliners unaware, passengers are often injured because there is no Seat Belt Warning illuminated first, naturally since these encounters cannot be predicted. These encounters tend to be the ones reported. However, smaller flights or military flights remain obscure, leaving the exact number of times these are encountered largely uncounted.

   These are not the usual classified CAT (Clear Air Turbulence), though technically any turbulence in clear skies are CATs.

   There remains to this day the unexplained loss of 2 big KC-135 jet Stratotankers in the Bermuda Triangle. They had departed Homestead AFB, Florida (south of Miami) on August 28, 1963, for a refueling mission with 3 B-47s.  This went off without a hitch. Afterward, they  proceeded to 30o 28 N 67o 54 W,* and turned back toward Florida. At 12:01 p.m. they reported to Oceanic Air Control that they were at these coordinates and were turning to return to base. They were

KC-135 Stratotanker

KC-135chit-50%-icon

Specs

Length: 64 feet 5 inches

Wingspan: 95 feet

Capacity: 21-32 passengers

Max. Speed 237

Cruising Speed: 150

Range: 1,025 miles

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ascending to 36,000 feet and 35,500 feet respectively. At 12:20 the B-47’s lost visual contact with them after entering a cirrus deck (cloud level), to continue on their course.

   However, at 1:57 p.m. Oceanic Air Control informed Homestead that the planes were overdue for contact. This began a massive search for the planes, which finally ended at 29o 19 N 69o 41 W, on the 29th when debris items were definitely identified as belonging to a KC-135 tanker.

   Both planes had gone down, in excellent weather, without uttering any word over the radio, no matter how terse, to alert anyone. It seems inconceivable under normal circumstances that the airplanes could have collided after maintaining an initial 500 foot formation separation. We have seen several times in Bermuda Triangle incidents where planes suddenly slow for no reason, where they drop or rise precipitously for no reason as well. If this was the case with these 2 Stratotankers, then both a slowing of the lead plane and a drop in its altitude would be required for the second plane, at a lower altitude, to hit it, presupposing the second plane was unaffected by the same slowing in speed and drop in altitude so it would impact into the lead plane.

   The selectivity of such a scenario seems beyond any known turbulence, whether CATs or turbulence from some other provenance. CAT can strike around the jet stream, can precede storms, and can manifest in various conditions which meteorology can predict or at least warn of their possible eventuation on certain flight tracks. None of them are selective enough, however, to hit only one plane in a formation. Regular turbulence would have shaken both aircraft, without necessarily slamming them into each other.
      

* The last coordinate is a deduction on my part. The Summary of the report is full of typos. It lists this coordinate as 87o 54 W, which is over Alabama. Transposing the numbers only gives 78o which also has to be incorrect according to the flight track.

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