A spine chilling story of a ‘Bermuda Triangle’ survivor who fought odds to save her life!
‘Cary Trantham’ born in Oklahoma, recollects fun airplane rides of childhood days with her brother. Her father would drop them at the cabin door with the stewardess in Seattle, and grandmother picked them at Oklahoma City. She has wonderful memories of the stewardess pampering them with food and drinks and one experience of even sitting in the cabin with the pilot! At 12 that was pure thrill, and continued to be so all through her lie.
1 When she flew for the first time
When she was in Chickasha (Oklahoma) for her job she became close to a couple – Dawn and Leonard Hillary. Leonard, who was a pilot by profession, impacted her life hugely. He had a contract with the electric company for which he flew past electric lines to identify problems alongside doing air photography. She accompanied him in many such rides when and assisted looking for woodpecker holes in electric lines. She had to fly the single engine very slowly, low enough to see the lines, which she enjoyed thoroughly. At this juncture of life itself she realized – flying meant everything to her.
2 When she says she’s ready to fly
She had expressed her desire to Leonard to learn about flying who fixed an instructor for her immediately. She was then a single mother of two little children and an accountant in a public firm. She had to go through a formal course to be educated on the basics of flying before she could actually command an aircraft all by herself. There were two parts of the test, one of ground school which dealt with the theoretical bit and another practical where she had to go flying to learn all about it. It was hard to not let the airplane glide as she flew through the green flat terrain of Oklahoma filled with cow fields, nevertheless she enjoyed herself immensely.
3 When she opened her wings for the first time
When she had passed both the exams, she was disqualified on health grounds. Some years back she landed up losing the left kidney which posed a problem. But as is said ‘where there is a will there is a way’, she furnished her doctor’s letter and got through the obstacle with special permission of FAA. She was now living in Key West – an island in Florida Keys. Flying over oceans filled with wild sea life was tougher than flying over grazing cow fields, but she did not seem to mind the challenge at all! She became a member of the ‘Navy Flying Club’ to start with. The Key West Naval Air station was well equipped with 3 runways and one did not have to worry about crosswinds, she was delighted that her flight remained an undisturbed sojourn.
4 When her wings take her across the Bermuda
This particular day Cary wished to visit her daughter ‘Daytona’ so she reserved her favored ‘Piper Warrior’ with the Boca Chica Naval Air Station. The weather was beautiful in Key West and the Miami Weather centre also confirmed that it should be a clear flight for a VFR flight plan. She completed preflight inspection and also requested for flight following. This is usually requested from the Air Traffic Control for ensuring flight safety. She was well conversant with the route of course, she as a frequenter.
5 When her trip across the Bermuda was smooth-sailing
It was a sheer visual delight to watch the sea life buzzing under crystal clean water from high altitude. The aerial view of dolphins, sharks, turtles, and stingrays among others seemed alluring. The unending blues of the sea face seemed enchanting against the sea grass meadows interweaving each other in perfect sequence. She loved her flights least to say and shrugged off the dangers of emergency landing in such beautiful yet life threatening sea life.
She had heard about the ‘dead air space’ over the Gulf between land of Florida and the Keys. She was said that there could be occasions when she lost radio contact which was normal and it was a matter of time when the contact would re-establish again soon. Suddenly a chill ran through her spine as she registered for the first time that she was flying over the forbidden ‘Bermuda triangle’ – an area in Atlantic Ocean between Florida, Bermuda (Miami) and Puerto Rico also known as the ‘Devils Triangle’. Ships and planes passing through the area vanish without a trace mysteriously. Though no scientific explanations support the weird phenomenon, and US Navy claims there is none such, several encounters have been recorded since centuries.
6 When The Bermuda was Calling For Her Name
She reached Ormond Beach and was glad to meet her daughter, they utilised those three hours they had before Cary departed to the maximum. They had lunch and had a splendid time together! While returning to the Ormond Beach airfield she noticed some storm clouds. She contacted the flight service over this concern and they advised a detour on her way back.
When she reached West Orlando, the Piper started shaking so forcefully that it was difficult for her to hold on to the aircraft. When she just about managed to stabilise, the yoke pressure was gone. She contacted the flight following to know of the weather, she learnt it was unstable around central Florida. It was getting dark and she decided to follow the city lights along the sea coast. Although she could see the lights of Miami horizon, the thick misty cloud cover made her feel a bit jittery and lonely at the cockpit. The vision was getting hazy as water and sky merged into one. Suddenly she had a feeling as if a thick blanket enveloping her, she lost control over the aircraft and there was a sudden panic building inside her. Was she trapped in the forbidden area?
7 When She Overcame Her Brush With The Devil’s Triangle
She checked her instruments which behaved abnormally. The erratic movement of the compass, the sudden fluctuating lights of the cockpit, the rolling of the attitude indicator – nothing was making sense. She did not know at what altitude she was stranded. The control base was not responding from Miami. When she finally made contact, she was asked to climb to much higher altitude. Although she knew nothing was normal she had to give it a fight, so she started going as high as she could. When she reached a height of 4000ft she again built contact with a woman controller to her great relief. She had reached ‘Marathon’ and was following the coastal lights on her way to Key West. Finally she was at the Flying club runway thanking her stars for not being enlisted among the lost in the wild.
That is the fabulous real life encounter from a survivor who has brushed through the ‘Devils Triangle’ and managed to reach back safely.