Saturday, February 14, 2009

Alaska's Bermuda Triangle

History Channel - Original Air Date: 2/10/09 (?)

According to this show, a person disappears in Alaska every day; the natives have a saying for this, "Gone missing," and the phrase seems to have ominous, almost supernatural overtones. With rugged terrain filled with plenty of enticing (if dangerous) things to do, and much travel done by airplane, Alaska seems to be a perfect place for such vanishings, and the show presents a "triangle" map with a huge swath of land ruled off for the alleged strange occurrences.  In 1992, three brothers disappeared when returning by plane from a remote fishing trip, no trace was ever found.  Twenty years earlier, house majority leader Hale Boggs and congressmen Mitch Begich disappeared on a route "bisected" by the alleged triangle.  The pilot who flew them that fateful day is described as "arrogant" by fellow pilots.  A huge effort, including overflight by SR-71 spy planes, was mounted to find the men, but nothing ever turned up.  The search not only included air and water searches, but also a call for people to report dreams and psychic premonitions.  The show tries to link the disappearance to Bogg's enmity with J. Edgar Hoover, though there seems to be little there.  Ironically, the pilot of the missing plane had published an article declaring icing (implicated in this week's Buffalo crash) was no problem for flying if a pilot knew what he was doing.  The narrator then mentions native legends of a lost world runed by evil spirits, but does little to follow up this idea.

The show doesn't do much to support its suggestion that people disappearing in Alaska is in any way unusual or supernatural.  With only two cases explored, the program doesn't build much of a case.  Alaska can be a very dangerous territory, filled with  mountains, glaciers, hostile terrain and animals, and unpredictable weather.  The area is also huge (remember how big Alaska is compared to the other 49 states).  Under such conditions, and with so many small planes in use by Alaskans, it doesn't seem odd to me that some people would almost literally fall off the face of the earth.  In fact, it would seem odd if they didn't.  Sadly, despite an intriuging promo, there's not much to this show.

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