Most everyone has heard of the Bermuda Triangle—an area of the Atlantic Ocean where numerous ships and planes have mysteriously disappeared. I wrote a blog post about five planes, known as Flight 19, that vanished there in 1945.
However, did you know there is a similar phenomenon in Alaska? It seems there are also many mysterious happenings in our largest and northernmost state.
The Alaska Triangle is located in a vast and largely untouched wilderness. It stretches from Anchorage, southeast to Juneau, then to the north coast city of Utqiagvik (formerly known as Barrow). The area has some of North America’s most unforgiving wilderness.
The Alaskan Wilderness area near Denali National Park (Public Domain)
In October 1972, a small private plane carrying House Majority Leader Hale Boggs, Alaskan Congressman Nick Begich, an aide named Russell Brown, and bush pilot Don Jonz vanished on a flight from Anchorage to Juneau.
An extended search consisting of fifty civilian planes, forty military aircraft, and dozens of boats searched a 32,000 square mile area. They found no trace of the plane, wreckage, or debris.
Strangely, this wasn’t the first disappearance in the triangle. In 1950, a military aircraft with forty-four passengers disappeared without a trace. In 1990 a Cessna carrying four passengers vanished.
These mysterious disappearances are strangely typical of this area, and they aren’t uncommon. Since 1988 more than 16,000 people have vanished there. This amounts to an annual rate of about four missing persons for every 1,000 people in Alaska. More than twice the national average.
An aerial view of Denali’s summit. Creative Commons photo by unagiinu via Wikimedia Commons
There are many theories for these unexplained vanishings—everything from aliens, to swirling energy vortexes, and even a shape-shifting demon known in Tlingit Indian lore as Kushtaka. Some attribute the vanishings to cryptids that supposedly live in the area.
A more scientific explanation is geography and climate. Alaska is also known for extreme weather conditions, including avalanches. While it’s easy to imagine hikers wandering off trail and succumbing to the elements, how do you explain the disappearance of aircraft?
Again, science has an explanation. The state’s massive glaciers contain giant holes, hidden caves, and crevices large enough to swallow a plane.
But isn’t it more intriguing to consider the other possibilities?