A comedy mystery podcast in which two friends discuss a weekly mystery.

The Alaska Triangle

Today we’re going to take a trip up north to visit our Canadian neighbors, but then we’re going to hang a tight left and travel back west back to land of the free, and the home of the brave. That’s right, Willy, we are going to visit the vast, untamed state of Alaska, so put on your parka and your ski pants and an extra pair of socks.

You didn’t notice it, but while we were traveling to Alaska, we also went back in time to October 16, 1972. As you may have figured out by all the airplanes around us, we are in the Anchorage Airport. Do you see that Cessna 310 right there? Let’s go ahead and climb aboard. But we need to be quiet, because there are some important people on board and we don’t want to disturb them. Specifically, there’s House Majority Leader Hale Boggs, Representative Nick Begich, Russell Brown who is Representative Begich’s aide, and our bush pilot for today’s flight, Don Jonz.

Now, hold onto your butt, Willy, because we’re going to be flying several hundred miles from Anchorage to Juneau for a campaign fundraiser for Representative Begich. The plane’s about to take off, but, you know, now that I think about it, I’ve got a bad feeling about this flight, so let’s go ahead and get off, okay?

Let’s fast forward a few days. You and I are hanging out in our hotel, you know, maybe eating our breakfast of Cookie Crisp and Alaska-shaped waffles in our matching PJs, when your eye catches a local newspaper headline, which says something about the House Majority Leader going missing during a flight from Anchorage to Juneau. Phew! It’s a good thing we got off that plane, but it’s still such a bummer that they went missing missing like that. I bet you there’s going to be a 39 day long search as a result of the high profile of the disappeared persons. I bet you even 400 aircraft and dozens of boats will be involved in the search effort too. But, unfortunately, I also bet you that absolutely no evidence, no matter how great or small, will ever be found of any of the men or the plane they were flying in.

Some conspiracy theorists are going to suggest that the plane crash was purposely orchestrated and covered up because of Hale Boggs’ membership on the Warren Commission and his strong doubts about the Commission’s single-bullet theory in its investigation into the JFK assassination. However, the Cessna 310 that you and I nearly died in is not the only airplane to go missing in Alaska. No, not by a long shot.

See, there is an area in Alaska known as the Alaska Triangle where many planes have disappeared or crashed for no apparent reason, and where unusually high numbers of tourists and locals go missing every year. In fact, since 1988, over 16,000 people have vanished from that area and have never been seen or heard from again. The Alaska Triangle encompasses a very large section of the state stretching from the southeast near Juneau and Yakutat, up to the Barrow mountain range to the north, and over to Anchorage in the middle of the state. This area includes large areas of unexplored wilderness, including forests, mountains, and desolate tundra.

There are a few theories to explain what in the heck is going on up there in Alaska, and of course, the first of them comes to us from the field of cryptozoology. The indigenous tribe called the Tlingit included in their mythology stories about shape-shifting creatures known as the Kushtaka, which is loosely translated as “land otter man,” since they can assume either the form of a human or an otter. Apparently these creatures are cruel creatures who lure people to their doom, particularly people who are lost or hapless. In some legends, the Kushtaka will imitate the cries of a baby or the screams of a woman to lure victims to a nearby river, where it will then either kill the person by tearing them to shreds or turn them into another Kushtaka. We’re in luck, though, because legend has it that the Kushtaka can be warded off with human urine.

Apparently the area of the Alaska Triangle is deeply connected to legends of the Kushtaka, so the theory is that these demonic creatures are responsible for the disappearances up there. Although, to be fair, I have a hard time figuring out how a creature that shape-shifts between an otter and a human is able to rip airplanes out of the sky, but I better not blaspheme the Kushtaka or else one of them might come after me.

The next theory is a super fringe-scientific one that I didn’t really understand but that I’m going to talk about as if I really know what it’s about. This next theory was suggested by an American researcher and cryptozoologist named Ivan T. Sanderson, and his theory is that the Alaska Triangle is what is known as a vile vortex.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, Willy: “What is the goshdarn heckity-heck is a vile vortex?” Well, luckily for you, I’ve got a half-assed explanation of what vile vortices are. Vile vortices are geographical areas around the world that supposedly exhibit extreme electric, magnetic, and electromagnetic anomalies, which some people believe are electromagnetic currents. The most famous example of a vile vortex is the Bermuda Triangle, but there are also many other alleged vile vortices all over the world. Some suggest that places like Stonehenge, Easter Island, and the Egyptian pyramids all lie on vile vortices, and that these monuments were built there as a result.

These vile vortices supposedly cause many strange phenomena. They affect humans physically, mentally, and emotionally by causing visions, demonstrating miraculous powers of healing, and spurts of creativity and profound epiphanies. Many people even believe that they can access their higher selves at these vile vortices. However, on top of self-actualization, these vile vortices also cause disorientation, confusion, and both visual and audial hallucinations. The vortices also purportedly cause electrical instrumentation to malfunction. Some people believe that these vortices are doorways into spiritual dimensions or gateways to other realms.

So what’s the support for this theory? Well, Alaska is heavily concentrated with magnetic anomalies which greatly disrupt compasses, so much so that compasses can be up to thirty degrees off. Also, some search and rescue workers who have worked in the area have reported audio hallucinations sounding like a swarm of bees, as well as unusual disorientation or lightheadedness. However, let’s be honest, there actually is no real evidence for the existence of vile vortices, and the theory has been met with a great deal of skepticism throughout the years.

The last theory that we’re going to discuss today is the theory put forth by the Alaskan authorities to explain the multitude of disappearances in the Alaska Triangle. I’ve got to be honest, though, this one isn’t nearly as fun, but it is our solemn duty to talk about it. The Alaskan government has actually hacked our computer screens with live video of our parents who have been kidnapped and tied up. The King of Alaska himself is holding a bottle of ketchup and is threatening to spray our lovely parents with it if we even act like we won’t talk about the theory put forth by the Alaskan authorities.

So, Alaska has more people reported missing each year than any other state in the United States, and the rate at which people go missing is twice the national average. On top of that, Alaska also has the highest number of missing people who are never found. BING BING BING: STAT OF THE DAY: in 2007, nearly 3,000 of the state’s 670,000 people went missing, and if you’re keeping track at home, that means that four out of every thousand people in Alaska went missing that year. So I guess if you’re a thrillseeker looking for a new adventure, I guess you should just go to Alaska and wait to vanish without a trace, leaving your family desperate for answers about what happened to their dearly departed loved one.

Now, why do the Alaskan authorities think so many people go missing, particularly in the Alaska Triangle, where the vast majority of disappearances occur? Well, the Alaska Triangle includes gigantic areas of remote wilderness that is almost completely unmarred by human existence, comprising more than half of the nation’s federally designated wilderness. This harsh landscape boasts cruel weather, hazardous terrain, ferocious wild animals, and about 100 active volcanoes. Many tourists go into the wilderness completely unprepared to camp or hike in such conditions, which leads to them becoming lost, encountering some danger they weren’t expecting, or being killed by a wild animal or the elements. This area is so vast, inaccessible, and wild that trying to find someone who is lost in the area is nearly impossible, particularly when unpredictable weather patterns limit the amount of time that searchers can spend looking for the missing.

So that’s the mystery of the Alaska Triangle. Any particular theory you like, Willy?