As dramatized in Escape From Alcatraz with Clint Eastwood, three prisoners famously fled the "inescapable" island prison by raft in 1962, never to be seen again.
The film draws on evidence of debris found on Angel Island from the trio of bank robbers, Clarence Anglin, John Anglin and Frank Morris, to speculate that the escapees arrived there. But now a team of Dutch scientists studying tidal movements has put together a Mythbusters-inspired computer model indicating something different.
According to a simulator below, devised by the team from Netherlands' Delft University and the research institute Deltares, the crucial hour of departure could have led to death or salvation. If salvation, that probably came near Horseshoe Bay. Their research is to be presented today in San Francisco.
On the night of June 11, 1962, the prisoners left dummy heads in their beds carved from soap and disappeared through tunnels made with sharpened spoons. It's hypothesized that the escapees made an inflatable raft out of raincoats, launching out into the freezing bay.
Said one scientist to the BBC, "In the worst-case scenario, where paddling was ineffective, the outgoing tide would have swept them out to the ocean and they would have died of hypothermia. For sure. The San Francisco Bay area has one of the strongest tidal currents going under the Golden Gate Bridge."
But there was one window of opportunity if the trio left near midnight and paddled hard northward. "If they hit it exactly at midnight, the beautiful thing is that we see that they would have been sucked out towards the Golden Gate Bridge," arriving North of the Bridge near Horseshoe bay.
What will come of the findings? “I’m hoping there will be three old men waiting at the presentation,” a member of the team joked to CBS SF.
Below, you'll find those simulated boats, and for more information watch the video at the bottom.