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“It has become a permanent part of my memory, since I have been memorizing it for over 30 years. I have done this in the hopes that someday I will contribute to the solving of this mystery.” Bruce Gernon
One of the most well-known encounters in the Bermuda Triangle happened to Bruce Gernon Jr. on December 4, 1970. Bruce and his father had built up a successful real estate brokerage in southern Florida. By his early 20s, Bruce already had about 600 hours flying time and was very familiar with Florida and the Bahamas. However, none of this prepared him for an encounter which over 40 years later still puzzles him.
As I rewrite this article now in the high summer of 2012 in order to bring it up to date, I cannot help but reflect on the 1970s, the era of my childhood, when so many “unexplained” topics were popular. There was nothing as hot as The Bermuda Triangle in the 70s, but Bruce Gernon’s account, as documented as it was, never made it into the ultimate Triangle book, Charles Berlitz’s 1974 bestseller. However, Berlitz later interviewed Gernon and placed his story into his 1977 sequel Without A Trace, and later Bruce appeared in a segment of Arthur C. Clarke’s Mysterious Universe. After that, there wasn’t much of a forum on the Triangle, even in the early days of the World Wide Web. ALL sites that dealt with the Bermuda Triangle debunked it. Strangely, they debunked a topic based on
20 year old arguments. My site was the only one to go up that held a pro view on the subject, and this attracted Bruce to write to me. Since my website brought back the popularity of the Triangle, and took it up to a more rational level, Bruce has been on a number of documentaries, has his own website, and even was able to finally get his own book out, The Fog. But this article was the first time he was truly able to express himself without being edited and without details of his experience being stretched to fit other theorists’ agenda.
Bruce is far from a “salesman” or publicity seeker. He strikes one as contemplative and non aggressive. The only reason his account became public was from his friendship with the late J. Manson Valentine, who often cataloged the unexplained in the Bermuda Triangle and was the source for Charles Berlitz’s 2 books on the subject. Gernon was so amazed at his encounter that he wrote down details shortly after it happened and even began to do some of his own investigating. Here he shares some of what he encountered and what he has discovered over the last 30 years of flying the Triangle (this article first went up in 2001). His keen memory for detail has aided in the production of pictures and maps, detailing what he experienced. In his own words:
My dad and I had been flying our own plane in the Bahamas since 1967, and had made at least a dozen flights to and from Andros Island. Everything seemed normal on that fateful day in December, just after 3 p.m., when my dad and I and Chuck Lafeyette, a business associate, lifted off the runway at Andros town Airport in a brand new Beechcraft Bonanza A36. It was shortly after takeoff when I noticed an elliptical cloud directly in front of us about a mile away, hovering only about 500 feet above the ocean. It was a typical lenticular cloud, but I had never seen one that low. Miami Flight Service reported over the VHF radio that the weather was good, so we continued. But the lenticular cloud quickly changed into a huge cumulus cloud. We were climbing at 1,000 feet per minute, and the cloud seemed to be building up at the same rate. Unexpectedly, it caught up and engulfed the Bonanza. After 10 minutes of climbing in and out of this cloud, the airplane finally broke free at 11,500 feet and the sky was clear. I leveled the Bonanza off and accelerated to its maximum safe cruising speed of 195 miles per hour. When I looked back at the cloud, I was astonished. It now looked like an immense squall, abnormally shaped in the form of a giant semicircle extending around us. visibility was about ten miles and the cloud continued beyond my perception, so it must have been more than 20 miles long. After a few minutes, I lost sight of it. Soon we noticed another cloud building directly in front of us, near the Bimini Islands. It looked a great deal like the cloud that we had just left, except that its top was at least 60,000 feet high. When we came with a few miles of it, we saw that it appeared to emanate directly from the surface of the Earth. Upon entering the cloud we witnessed an uncanny spectacle. It became dark and black, without rain, and visibility was about four or five miles. There were no lightning bolts, only extraordinarily bright white flashes that would illuminate the entire surrounding area. The deeper we penetrated, the more intense the flashes became, so we made a 135-degree turn to the left and headed due south out of the cloud. We had been flying for 27 minutes. We thought we might be able to fly around the cloud, but after six or seven miles we saw that it continued in a near-perfect curve to the east. After two more minutes it became apparent that the cloud near Andros and the cloud near Bimini were actually opposite sides of the same ring-shaped body! The cloud must have formed just off of Andros Island and then rapidly spread outward into the shape of a doughnut with a diameter of 30 miles. This seemed impossible, but there was no other explanation. We were trapped inside a billowing prison, with no way under or over it. Thirteen miles later, I noticed a large U-shaped opening on the west side ofthe doughnut cloud. I had no choice but to turn and try to exit through the opening. As we approached, we watched the top ends of the U-gap join, forming a hole. The break in the cloud now formed a perfect horizontal tunnel, one mile wide and more than 10 miles long. We could see the clear blue sky on the other side. We also saw that the tunnel was rapidly shrinking. I increased the engine RPM, bringing our speed to the caution area of 230 miles per hour. When we entered the tunnel, its diameter had narrowed to only 200 feet. I was amazed at what the shaft now looked like. It appeared to be only a mile long instead of ten-plus as I had originally estimated. Light from the afternoon sun shone through the exit hole and made the silky white walls glow. The walls were perfectly round and slowly constricting. All around the edges were small puffs of clouds of a contrasting gray, swirling counterclockwise around the airplane. We were in the tunnel for only 20 seconds before we emerged from the other end. For about five seconds I had the strange feeling of weightlessness and an increased forward momentum. When I looked back, I gasped to see the tunnel walls collapse and form a slit that slowly rotated clockwise. All of our electronic and magnetic navigational instruments were malfunctioning. The compass was slowly spinning even as the airplane flew straight. I contacted Miami and told them we were about 45 miles southeast of Bimini, heading east at 10,500 feet. The radar controller replied that he was unable to identify us anywhere in that area. Something bizarre had happened. Instead of the blue sky we expected, everything was a dull, grayish white haze. Visibility seemed like more than two miles, yet we could not see the ocean, the horizon, or the sky. The air was very stable and there was no lightning or rain. I like to refer to this as an “electronic fog;” because it seemed to be what was interfering with our instruments. I had to use my imagination to feel our way west. We were in the electronic fog for three minutes when the controller radioed that he had identified an airplane directly over Miami Beach, flying due west. I looked at my watch and saw that we had been flying for less than 34 minutes. We could not yet have reached Miami Beach— we should have been approaching the Bimini Islands. I told the controller that he must have identified another airplane and that we were approximately 90 miles southwest of Miami and still looking for Bimini. Suddenly the fog started breaking apart, in a weird sort of electronic fashion. Long horizontal lines appeared in the fog on either side of us. The lines widened into slits about four or five miles long. We saw blue sky through them. The slits continued expanding and joined together. Within eight seconds, all the slits had joined, and the gray fog had disappeared. All I could see was brilliant blue sky as my pupils adjusted to the abrupt increase in brightness. Then, I saw the barrier island of Miami Beach directly below. After we landed at Palm Beach I realized that the flight had taken a little less than 47 minutes. I thought something must have been wrong with the airplane's timer, yet all three of our watches showed that it was 3:48 P.M.
I had never made it from Andros to Palm Beach in less than 75 minutes, even on a direct route. Our course on this flight was quite indirect and probably covered close to 250 miles. How could the airplane travel 250 miles in 47 minutes? We taxied to customs, ending the fortuitous flight. We didn't talk about it for a long time. I could not logically understand what had happened during that flight, although I felt it was significant and reviewed it in my mind several times a day. In 1972 I heard about the so-called Bermuda Triangle and disappearances of boats and airplanes because of a possible time warp. It was then that I realized that time itself was the key. It should have taken about four minutes to travel through the tunnel, since it appeared to be between 10 and 15 miles long. Instead, this is precisely how long it took for us to leave the storm and reach clear skies. The remarkable thing is that we did not come out of the storm 90 miles away from Miami as we should have. . . .We had traveled through 100 miles of space and 30 minutes of time in a little more than three minutes.
Q&A with Bruce in April 2001
Question: Did you notice any blue-green glowing phosphoresce before, during or after your experience?
Answer: I didn't notice any colors other than shades of gray. It was the color of fog, that is one of the reasons I call it Electronic Fog. I have seen what is known as the "Green Flash" in the Florida Keys 3 times. It is a florescent lime color and it has lasted from about 10 seconds and up to one minute.
Question: Did you notice any turbulence associated with your experience?
Answer: I did notice some turbulence related to the Fog. When my airplane reached the end of the Tunnel and made its exit from the Storm, I felt the sensation of zero gravity. I also felt as if we were being given a boost in forward momentum. At the same time and length of this feeling, contrails formed on the edge of the wingtips for about 10 seconds. It was at this point the Electronic Fog attached itself to the airplane. I believe the airplane was flying in clear weather but it appeared to be IMC because the Fog was attached to the airplane. In other words I wasn't flying through the fog, I was flying with the fog. It takes a different perspective of the mind for a pilot to realize this, and this could be the reason for a pilot to become immediately spatially disoriented.
Question: Could you describe the “Green Flash”?
Answer: Like the electronic fog, the Green Flash is very uncommon. It is well known in Key West—- probably because they celebrate the sunset every day. It probably only happens a few times a year. I lived in the keys 15 years and only saw it three times. The second and third times that is saw it, I knew it was coming so I showed it to my family and some friends. . . .When the Green Flash appears, always as the sun is setting below the horizon, the sun instantly turns from orange to green.
Question. As an in situ observer, and from your experience flying in the Bermuda Triangle, what other phenomena have you observed?
I have seen many UFO's, but none in the last twenty years. The first one was in 1957 in Florida and was spectacular. I witnesses it with eight other family members. It was spiracle in shape and performed many maneuvers. We watched it for over 30 minutes and it came within one mile from us. It was about 100 feet in diameter and white in color. I believe it was a form of Ball lightning.
I have seen UFO's that may have been associated with the storm I flew through. The first one was only a month after I flew through the storm. We were flying at night about 9:30 PM in February and the weather was CAVU. We were over Miami at 10,000 and headed due East toward Bimini. When we got a few miles offshore we noticed an amber light far to the east of us. Suddenly it came toward us at an incredible speed. It was on a collision course with us and within seconds it was right in front of us. It was bright amber and shaped like a saucer with a diameter of about 300 feet. It was massive and I felt that its mass was of a solid nature and not just a form of light. I banked to the left to avoid a certain collision— when I looked back to see where is was, it had vanished. It may have been an illusion, although we both saw the exact same thing. It is interesting to note that the UFO was on the same flight path that I had traveled when I went through the time tunnel and encountered the electronic fog.
I noticed the full Moon came up over the horizon about an hour later. I thought there must be a correlation. About a year later I had a feeling I might see a UFO on a flight back from the Carolinas. Sure enough a UFO appeared and we even photographed it. It was the same shape and size as the one I almost collided with and the full Moon came up about one hour after we witnessed it.
Another year later I had a feeling I might see some UFO's offshore again so we drove to the beach in Delray at night an hour before the full Moon would rise. We saw five UFO'S in formation traveling an incredible speed from north to south, all heading toward Bimini. They were all the same shape and color as the ones I had seen previously.
I thought I had discovered a correlation with UFO's and the Moon, but I have never seen this happen again. It could be some form of reflection that creates an illusion, or it could be a form of lightning yet to be discovered— I like to call them “Lightning Birds” because similar to ball lightning they seem to have a mind of their own and they have aeronautical abilities that only a bird could possess.