Bruce Gernon and his father had been flying 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, just after 3:00 p.m., when Bruce and his dad and friend, Chuck Lafeyette, 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' 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 fpm, and the cloud seemed to be building up at the same rate. Unexpectedly, it caught up and engulfed our aircraft. After 10 minutes of climbing in and out of this cloud, we finally broke free at 11,500' and the sky was clear.
I leveled the Bonanza off and accelerated to its maximum safe cruising speed of 195 MPH.
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' 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 4 or 5 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° 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 6 or 7 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, with no way under or over it.
13 miles later, I noticed a large U shaped opening on the west side of the doughnut cloud. With 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 speed, bringing our speed to the caution area of 230 MPH. When we entered the tunnel, its diameter had narrowed to only 200'.
I was amazed at what the shaft now looked like. It appeared to be only a mile long instead of 10+ miles 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 5 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'. 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 2 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.
Then 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 4 or 5 miles long. We saw blue sky through them. The slits continued expanding and joined together. Within 8 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 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 4 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.