“The region involved, a watery triangle bounded roughly by Florida, Bermuda, and Puerto Rico, measures less than a thousand miles on any one side.”
. . . So George X. Sand introduced the Triangle to his readers in October 1952 in a short article for Fate magazine, entitled “Sea Mystery at our Back Door.”
Sand’s article recounted the latest disappearance (the Sandra in 1950) and went on to discuss some of the other recent baffling mysteries like NC16002, Star Tiger and Star Ariel, aside from devoting most of the article to Flight 19.
The Triangle remained a colloquial expression throughout the 1950s, employed by locals when another disappearance or unexplained crash happened.
By the early 1960s, it had acquired the name The Deadly Triangle. In his 1962 book, Wings of Mystery, author Dale Titler also devoted pages in Chapter 14— “The Mystery of Flight 19”— to recounting the most recent incidents of disappearances and even began to ponder theories, such as electromagnetic anomalies and the ramifications of Project Magnet. His book would set the temper for Triangle discussions thereafter. (Just in April 1962 Allan W. Eckert had written a sensational piece in the American Legion Magazine on Flight 19 ((“The Mystery of the Lost Patrol”)) which introduced some of the most popular but erroneous dialogue purported coming from Flight 19, including lines like the ocean looks strange, all the compasses are going haywire, and that they could not make out any directions, “everything is strange.” This became a may pole for electromagnetic discussions).
However, popularity on the subject was beginning to spread beyond the area of the Atlantic seaboard. But the moniker “Deadly Triangle” contained absolutely no geographic reference in it— in other words “Deadly Triangle” could be anywhere.
Then in February 1964 Vincent Gaddis wrote an article for Argosy Magazine. The article was little different from others, though it added a few more recent cases like Marine Sulphur Queen. However, it was his title that finally clinched with the public: “The Deadly Bermuda Triangle.” Adding “Bermuda” finally materialized the location for everybody, though Gaddis clarified “in and about this area” many have disappeared.
In his popular 1965 book Invisible Horizons, Gaddis devoted chapter 13 to “The Triangle of Death.” The concept of the Bermuda Triangle was spreading rapidly.
Ironically, the first book published devoted to the subject was entitled Limbo of the Lost (1969) by John Spencer, in which he proposed the area had no real shape at all and elaborately tried to include the Gulf of Mexico as well as New Jersey. It sold in limited quantities, but was later reproduced in paperback in the early 1970s and did well.
Dozens of magazine and newspaper articles came out in the early ‘70s, each author offering a general shape. Richard Winer proposed “The Devil’s Triangle” and extended it nearly to the Azores near Portugal. Ivan Sanderson was sure it was an oblong shape centered almost entirely north of Bermuda.
But no book sold as well as Charles Berlitz’s 1974 bestseller, The Bermuda Triangle. Selling way over 5,000,000 copies in hardback, it became a phenomenon. Berlitz also cautioned about the exact shape, as had the others. But to this day Bermuda Triangle is deferred to for the same reason “Deadly Triangle” failed—there is simply no other name that calls to mind the general area as does Bermuda Triangle.
But the vast popularity of the subject brought into vogue an art that is still trying to flourish today—debunking. Out of all the books that were published, only one remains in reprint today: Larry Kusche’s book The Bermuda Triangle Mystery— Solved. But that is the subject of another article.
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