Friday, June 29, 2018

The UFO and Bermuda Triangle Cruise with Charles Berlitz

The Bermuda Triangle Cruise 
In our earlier story on Lawrence Brill and the PSI (Psychic, Spiritual and Intuition) Conferences, The 1974 Tampa Flying Saucer Symposium, we saw that follow-up events were planned, both on land and at sea. Brill did not see live to see his dream of a psychic and UFO conference aboard a sea cruise come true. But in 1975, someone tried something pretty close.

Charles Berlitz was the best-selling author of The Bermuda Triangle which also dabbled a bit in UFO lore (long before he co-authored The Philadelphia Experiment and The Roswell Incident with William Moore). Berlitz was the headliner for a Bermuda Triangle sea cruise that also featured one of Lawrence Brill’s stars from PSI Conferences, Page Bryant, psychic radio talk show host from Tampa.
Page Bryant, from her The Earth Changes Survival Handbook, 1983

The  Pez Espada IV cruise was hosted by WFTL (850 AM) West Palm Beach, Florida. A long article by Jim Gallagher in the Detroit Free Press, May 25, 1975, told the story, warts and all:
What led WFTL to finance the Pez adventure, however, was more a concern for profits than for losses. According to Ted Agnew, afternoon newsman at the station (and no relation to the former vice-president) management at WFTL was looking for a publicity gimmick to attract listeners during its spring rating review period. Realizing that the Bermuda Triangle has become big business Berlitz's book has been No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list for two dozen weeks and two paperbacks on the Triangle have sold considerably more than a million copies each they decided to send a ship into the area and have Agnew do live broadcasts from onboard. 
From another section,
Besides Berlitz, the other experts on board were Page Bryant, a corpulant housewife who claims to be a psychic, and Dr. Manson Valentine, an aging zoologist (his specialty is beetles) who believes in the existence of extraterrestrial beings. "We have some very sophisticated friends and ancestors in outer space," Valentine said. However, he has yet to make contact with any of them. Not that he hasn't tried. "I've been telling them for years to come out and show themselves, to talk to me man-to-man," he confided. "But they just won't do it and I'm certainly miffed with them.'" Valentine believes the Triangle disappearances are related to UFO traffic in the area. The exhaust systems of the UFOs, he said, upset the magnetic stability there. Valentine supplied Berlitz with much of the material included in his book "The Bermuda Triangle.
(For a larger view of the newspaper article below, clink on the caption/link.)

Detroit Free Press, May 25, 1975

The second part of the article provides the details on the (low-grade) UFO sighting during the voyage.
Before the voyage began, Ms. Bryant made four predictions: the ship would have engine trouble, there would be a fire at sea, UFOs would be sighted on Friday evening, and the Pez would not fall victim to the Triangle curse. Each was borne out by later events...
At a post-cruise press conference, Allen Moore asked Ted Agnew about the UFOs. "I saw a light... much larger than the running light of an airplane." 
It wasn't much of a UFO, just a light in the sky, but the WFTL promoter pushed to glorify it.
 Moore wouldn't give up, "But it was unidentified, so it would be a UFO," he insisted.
Detroit Free Press, May 25, 1975

Berlitz continued to dabble with the UFO topic in his books, in 1977 with another Bermuda Triangle book, Without a Trace, and in 1978 with William Moore The Philadelphia Experiment, and then together again with Moore in 1980, with UFOs front and center in a book about a crashed flying saucer, The Roswell Incident.

Without Charles Berlitz, these stories probably would have never reached the mainstream public, at least in bestselling books. Berlitz died on December 18, 2003, but the legends he published will be circulated forever.

"Linguist Charles Berlitz Dies" by Adam Bernstein, Washington Post, December 31, 2003.

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