The Time When The U.S. Almost Blew Up North Carolina


During the 1950s and 1960s, the United States suffered a string of mishaps with nuclear weapons, from lost nukes to accidentally dropping bombs. On the night of January 23, 1961, a B-52 bomber patrolling the skies over the Atlantic Ocean developed a fuel leak. The pilots were advised to steer their craft towards Goldsboro, North Carolina, and land at Seymour Johnson AFB. While approaching the airfield, the pilots lost control of the airplane and to save themselves had to bail out. Only five managed to successfully parachute out, with three crew members dying in the crash. On board the B-52 bomber were two 3.8 megaton Mark 39 thermonuclear weapons. As the pilot-less airplane fell, it broke-up midair and the two hydrogen bombs separated from their bays. The following day, officials arrived at the crash scene 12 miles north of Goldsboro and found that one of the nuclear weapons had landed with its parachute deployed, while the one with no parachute to slow it down, struck ground at the speed of sound and became entombed 18 feet below the surface. Air Force officials announced that the nuclear core of the weapons were intact and there was no danger of radiation affecting the area.