First Bermuda Triangle "Disappeared" Plane Found—Reported to have vanished in 1968
by Dr. Greg Little
In 2005 my wife (Dr. Lora Little) and I were exploring Andros with Bahamas' guides Krista and Eslie Brown. At that time we were not particularly interested in crashed planes, but we had noticed several crashed planes on the ground and in shallow water around Andros. Exploring the island itself from a small truck, the Browns took us to the tail section of a small plane located by the shore at Red Bays, a small settlement at extreme NW Andros. According to locals, the tail piece had drifted to the shore a few years earlier. They dragged it to the shore, and simply ignored it. In 2007, after finding numerous other planes in various underwater spots, we decided to revisit the tail and try to identify it. After publishing a brief article about the tail section wherein we tentatively identified it as a plane reportedly lost in the Bermuda Triangle, we received confirmation from several plane mechanics and pilots that the tail was of a Cessna 172-H, and of the correct vintage—circa 1966.
The Story—N1483F—Cessna 172-H
On May 29, 1968, a 30-year old pilot and a female passenger took off from Grand Turk Island at 6:00 pm in a single engine 1966 Cessna 172-H. Within minutes after takeoff, at 6:10 pm, the pilot radioed that he was out of fuel and that his engine had stopped. He stated he was ditching into the water not far from the island. National Transportation Safety Board and other accident reports are extremely sketchy and provide no information whatsoever on a subsequent search. However, we have been present on Andros (2008) when a plane with several passengers crashed, and the search consisted of a phone call from Nassau to a private pilot at Andros asking him to fly in the area. He took a 30-minute flight and was mainly interested in watching us as we were using a remote video on a small boat. Oddly, not a trace of the 2008 plane or its passengers have ever been reported and the plane is now on some lists of planes that disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle. The same can be said of the 1966 disappearance. Nothing was ever found or reported. As a side note, the pilot in the 2008 incident flew directly into a storm (despite having weather radar aboard) and he presumably crashed into the abyss of the Tongue of the Ocean.
The N number of the "disappeared" 1966 Cessna 172-H was N-1483F. The tail section of the plane at Red Bays showed four visible numbers/letters: Nx48xF (the x means that that specific number was destroyed, however, a "3" was partially present after the 8). While we were reasonably certain that this was the tail section of the disappeared Cessna, what remained was a final identification that the tail was, in fact, from a Cessna 172 and also of the right age. With that now verified, we are now certain that the tail section is that of the mysterious 1966 Cessna 172-H. Red Bays is 400 miles from Grand Turk, however, what seems to have happened is this. When the plane crashed into the water, the light tail section was torn off. Over time, the northwesterly movement of water from Grand Turk through the Old Bahama Channel, to the Santaren Channel, to the Gulf Stream gradually drifted the tail section north to western Andros.
During our several visits to the tail section, we took 50 or more photos and several long video clips of it from many angles. That was a wise decision because just before January 2009, locals at Red Bays took the tail wreckage and dumped it into water at a fishing spot to attract more fish.
The Bermuda Triangle area does, no doubt, have a number of mysterious disappearances. Our belief is that all the planes are there, somewhere, lying underwater or crashed onto a remote spot. To date, we have now found 22 crashed planes in the Bahamas, located from Bimini to Andros and on the Great Bahama Bank off western Andros. However, finding the planes does not really solve the mystery of why such events happen there. As a final note, some people argue that since the area is so heavily traveled it would be expected to have many accidents. These same people go on to argue that there are statistically no more accidents in that area than anywhere else. While that might—or might not—be true, it must be pointed out that no such statistical anaylsis has ever been done. What we do know is that a great number of planes (well over 100) have simply vanished under unusual circumstances. At least one of them, or at least a part of it, has now been found, and we believe the rest are also there, waiting.