When I was a kid, blessed with my ignorance of geopolitics and the looming rise of terrorism, I was aware of only a few legitimate threats to my safety and well-being. Rocky, I was aware, had already successfully defused the Cold War through the art of boxing, which left only looming concerns about clowns, quicksand and the Bermuda Triangle on my childhood risk management assessments.

As I got older, those concerns slowly began to fall by the wayside as more realistic and legitimate threats usurped their roles as the things that kept me up at night. I came to understand that quicksand wasn’t nearly as prevalent as cartoons had led me to believe, that clowns were just people in makeup, and that the Bermuda Triangle was… well, to be honest, I entered adulthood still not being totally sure what the hell was going on with the Bermuda Triangle.

Over the years, countless mysteries and disappearances have been associated with the triangular expanse of ocean stretching from Bermuda (as its namesake would imply) down to Miami and eastward to San Juan, Puerto Rico, though the most famous may be that of Flight 19, a group of five U.S. Navy torpedo bombers that disappeared without a trace somewhere in the triangle on Dec. 5, 1945. Soon after those five aircraft and their 14 crew members had vanished, a Martin PBM Mariner flying boat was dispatched to begin the search and rescue operation — only to have the Mariner, and 13 more crew members, vanish as well.

U.S. Navy Grumman TBF-1 Avenger torpedo bombers | WikiMedia Commons

Losing 27 men and six aircraft in a single day just off the American coast was, as time has shown, a tragedy of historic proportions — but was it also a paranormal one?

The first few times I traversed the Bermuda Triangle were by plane, skipping over corners of the legendary stretch of sea that’s swallowed up so many sailors, aviators and tourists alike. I shot across it in just a matter of minutes, thanks to modern commercial air travel.

Today, for most of us, the infamous Bermuda Triangle has become a “blink and you’ll miss it” part of normal travel — not the man-eating vortex of mystery I believed it to be as a kid. Still, as I peered out over the ocean from my seat high in the sky, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of death below — not in a threatening way, but more like I felt as a kid riding the school bus as we passed by the old cemetery on the far end of my neighborhood. I knew, rationally, that there was nothing to be afraid of… but something in me made me keep my eyes on it, as though it was only my attention that kept the monsters at bay.

It wasn’t until a few years later that I’d make my first pass through the Bermuda Triangle by ship, allowing me far more time to look the monster square in the eye and see which of us would blink. On my way home, I decided that the Triangle either didn’t want me, or the legends of sea monsters, interdimensional vortexes and flying saucers may have been exaggerated. To date, I’ve traveled through different parts of the Bermuda Triangle by plane or boat of varied sizes and speeds, spent days inside its spooky perimeter, scanning the horizon for signs of trouble all along the way… only to be met with a long, boring horizon or the occasionally exciting bout of rough weather.

Over the years, I’ve stolen every opportunity I could to sneak around spooky places and look for evidence of something beyond the veil of human understanding. My wife (an avid believer in all things that go bump in the night) and I (the kind of skeptical ass that’ll ruin your ghost story with fact checking) have navigated the nonsensical halls of the Winchester Mansion, trudged through the mud in long-vanished Civil War graveyards, and listened attentively to broken English descriptions of local legends on three different continents. She thinks I’m too skeptical, but the truth is that I take a hard-line approach to these things because I want to believe — and that want motivates me to cut through the bullshit.