British South American Airways' Star Ariel Disappears
G-AGRE Star Ariel was an Avro Tudor Mark IVB passenger aircraft owned and operated by British South American Airways (BSAA) which disappeared without trace over the Atlantic Ocean while on a flight between Bermuda and Kingston, Jamaica on 17 January 1949. The loss of the aircraft along with that of BSAA Avro Tudor Star Tiger in January 1948 remain unsolved to this day, with the resulting speculation helping to develop the Bermuda Triangle legend.
Star Ariel (G-AGRE) was sitting at Bermuda without passengers. Her crew were on return trip after having been on west bound service to Jamaica. However, another BSAAC Tudor, G-AHNK, lost an engine while on approach to Bermuda. She landed without incident. An alert BSAAC took quick advantage of Star Ariel. She was refueled and ordered to take the 13 passengers of G-AHNK onto their destination of Jamaica..
J.C. McPhee, her pilot, received a weather briefing while “Star Girl” J.B. Moxon and Steward K.W. Coleman greeted the passengers. The weather forecast was perfect, so McPhee decided on a high altitude flight to take advantage of it.
Registered as G-AGRE, Star Ariel departed Bermuda for Kingston, Jamaica on January 17, 1949, carrying seven crewmembers and thirteen passengers. Shortly after take-off, her pilot, Capt. J. C. McPhee, radioed in the following report;
"I DEPARTED FROM KINDLEY FIELD AT 8:41 A.M. HOURS. MY ETA AT KINGSTON (Jamaica) 2:10 P.M. HOURS. I AM FLYING IN GOOD VISIBILITY AT 18,000 FT. I FLEW OVER 150 MILES SOUTH OF KINDLEY FIELD AT 9:32 HRS. MY ETA AT 30° N IS 9:37 HRS. WILL YOU ACCEPT CONTROL?"
And then later;
"I WAS OVER 30° N AT 9:37 I AM CHANGING FREQUENCY TO MRX."
Those were the last transmissions from the Star Ariel, and she was never heard from again. Over 70 aircraft and many ships were involved in a search between one hundred and five hundred miles south of Bermuda, search vessels including the aircraft carriers USS Kearsarge and Leyte, and the battleship USS Missouri, involving upwards of 13,000 men. No sign of debris, oil slicks, or wreckage were ever found. Both incidents later prompted the use of the Tudor IV aircraft to be discontinued.