Alaska Triangle

Vanishing Planes, Energy Vortexes, And UFO Sightings: Inside The Mysteries Of The Alaska Triangle

Published July 18, 2023
Updated July 19, 2023

More than 20,000 people have vanished in the stretch of forest between Utqiagvik, Anchorage, and Juneau known as the Alaska Triangle — and some say paranormal forces may be to blame.

The Bermuda Triangle, also known as the Devil’s Triangle, is a region in the North Atlantic infamous for a number of mysterious disappearances over the years, fueling urban legends and conspiracy theories alike. But much further to the north is another equally strange and mysterious “triangle” of land known as the Alaska Triangle.

This region, loosely defined as the wilderness between Utqiagvik, Anchorage, and Juneau, has also been called “Alaska’s Bermuda Triangle,” although that description is perhaps a disservice to how truly deadly the Alaska Triangle is.

The phenomenon first came to public attention in October 1972, when a small passenger plane suddenly disappeared en route from Anchorage to Juneau. Neither its passengers nor its wreckage were ever found, despite multiple search efforts spanning 325,000 square miles.

It only got worse from there. More planes have crashed in the Alaska Triangle, hikers have disappeared, and locals and tourists alike vanish as if into thin air. History reports that since the 1972 crash, more than 20,000 people have gone missing in the Alaska Triangle — a rate that more than doubles the national average — leading many to speculate whether these disappearances are natural or supernatural.

The Disappearance Of House Majority Leader Hale Boggs

Although the wilderness that would come to be known as the “Bermuda Triangle of Alaska” had seen its fair share of missing persons prior to 1972, it truly became a point of public fixation in October of that year when a private airplane carrying U.S. House Majority Leader Hale Boggs vanished somewhere between Anchorage and Juneau.

On Oct. 16, 1972, Boggs and Representative Nick Begich were onboard the twin-engine Cessna 310 plane along with one of Begich’s aides, Russell Brown, and the pilot Don Jonz. Boggs had been visiting the freshman Begich during a campaign trip. But at some point during their flight, the plane seemingly vanished into thin air.

Hale Boggs

Wikimedia CommonsU.S. Representative Hale Boggs, who disappeared in the Alaska Triangle in October 1972.

According to Politico, when word of the plane’s sudden disappearance reached Washington, D.C., it kick-started the largest search and rescue operation seen up to that point in U.S. history. In total, 40 military aircraft and 50 civilian planes aided in the search, which spanned 325,000 square miles and lasted more than 3,600 hours.

But 39 days later, the search party found nothing — not a trace of the plane or anyone who was on it. The search was called off, and the incident prompted Congress to pass a law mandating that all U.S. civil aircraft be equipped with emergency locator transmitters.

Not long after, conspiracy theories surfaced, including one pertaining to Boggs’ membership on the Warren Commission — set up by President Lyndon B. Johnson to investigate John F. Kennedy’s assassination — and his dissenting opinion on the commission’s report pointing to a lone assassin.

In short, Boggs believed that Kennedy’s assassination may have involved multiple individuals, and conspiracy theorists believed Boggs was killed because he was looking too deeply into something he shouldn’t have been.

However, Boggs’ plane was not the first or last to disappear in the Alaska Triangle. In fact, in 1950, a military aircraft carrying 44 people also vanished without a trace. The same happened with a Cessna 340 carrying four passengers in 1990, Discovery reports.

And the mysterious disappearances don’t stop there. In fact, the situation only becomes more staggering when factoring in the number of individual people who have gone missing in the Alaska Triangle — more than 16,000 since 1988. Or, to put it another way, roughly four out of every 1,000 individuals in Alaska, more than double the national average.

Of course, the biggest question is, “Why?”

Paranormal Theories About The Alaska Triangle Disappearances

According to the Travel Channel, one prominent theory regarding the Alaska Triangle and the numerous disappearances within the region comes from a strange report made to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in 1986.

The report claimed that Japan Air Lines Flight 1628 had encountered three unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP), more commonly known as unidentified flying objects (UFOs). The pilot reported that they initially believed the craft to be military, before realizing that the objects were keeping pace with the plane and moving about it in erratic motions while emitting bursts of light.

These claims were reportedly later verified by civilian and military radar, leading some to speculate that the thousands of strange disappearances that have occurred in the Alaska Triangle could be attributed to extraterrestrials.

Alaska Triangle

Cryptid WikiA map of the Alaska Triangle, stretching from Juneau to Utqiagvik (formerly Barrow).

Another theory suggests that massive, swirling energy vortexes exist within the Alaska Triangle. Supposedly, the direction an energy vortex spins can influence human behavior. A clockwise vortex, for instance, creates positive emotions, while a counterclockwise vortex leads humans to experience negative feelings and confusion.

Indeed, electronic readings have reportedly detected significant magnetic irregularities within the Alaska Triangle, and search teams in the area have reported their compasses being more than 30 degrees off. Some have also reported feeling disoriented or experiencing auditory hallucinations, which purportedly could account for why people get lost or crash in the Alaska Triangle.

Kushtaka \\

PinterestA drawing of the Kushtaka, the otter-like creatures of Native American folklore said to stalk the Alaska Triangle.

Other theories trace back even further, rooting themselves in Native American folklore. The Tlingit and Tsimshian peoples, for example, have told stories of a creature known as the Kushtaka, a shapeshifter that prowls the Alaskan wilderness searching for its prey.

The Kushtaka is similar in appearance to an otter, but often appears to those lost in the woods as a trusted friend, leading their victim deeper into the wilderness and either tearing them to shreds or turning them into a Kushtaka.

There are other theories as well, some more outlandish than others, ranging from heavy air and strange weather to energy lasers beamed from the lost city of Atlantis. That said, there are also a few more grounded explanations regarding the Alaska Triangle for the skeptics out there.

Geographical Factors That Could Explain Why People Go Missing In The Alaska Triangle

While it may be fun to postulate supernatural occurrences within the Alaska Triangle, it would be a disservice to discuss the region without likewise looking into scientific explanations for its numerous disappearances.

According to The Manual, one of the most likely scientific explanations is, quite simply, geography.

Juneau Alaska

Wikimedia CommonsJuneau, Alaska and the vast wilderness beyond marks the start of the Alaska Triangle.

With year-round snowfall, dense wilderness, and massive glaciers containing hidden caves and giant crevasses, the odds of finding a downed aircraft or poor soul’s body are slim. Hikers might fall into deep holes, their tracks likely covered with snow before the light has left their eyes.

Even planes, despite their massive size, can quickly become buried under heavy snowfall. Keep in mind, too, that the state of Alaska is itself massive. Alaska is more than twice the size of Texas, and most of it is still uninhabited by humans.

The paranormal theories surrounding the Alaska Triangle are certainly exciting to discuss, but the truth is that it’s unfortunately very easy for a person to go missing in the Alaskan wilderness — and next to impossible to find them when they do.

After reading about the mysterious Alaska Triangle, explore the mysteries of southern Massachusetts’ Bridgewater Triangle. Then, learn all about Vermont’s Bennington Triangle and Glastenbury Mountain.

Austin Harvey
A staff writer for All That's Interesting, Austin Harvey has also had work published with Discover Magazine, Giddy, and Lucid covering topics on mental health, sexual health, history, and sociology. He holds a Bachelor's degree from Point Park University.
Maggie Donahue
Maggie Donahue is an assistant editor at All That's Interesting. She has a Master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and a Bachelor's degree in creative writing and film studies from Johns Hopkins University. Before landing at ATI, she covered arts and culture at The A.V. Club and Colorado Public Radio and also wrote for Longreads. She is interested in stories about scientific discoveries, pop culture, the weird corners of history, unexplained phenomena, nature, and the outdoors.
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Harvey, Austin. "Vanishing Planes, Energy Vortexes, And UFO Sightings: Inside The Mysteries Of The Alaska Triangle.", July 18, 2023, Accessed June 25, 2024.