|Date||24 January 1961|
|Site|| Faro, Nahunta Township, Wayne County, 12 miles (19 km) north of Goldsboro, North Carolina |
|Operator||Strategic Air Command, United States Air Force|
|Flight origin||Seymour Johnson Air Force Base|
|Destination||Seymour Johnson Air Force Base|
The 1961 Goldsboro B-52 crash was an accident that occurred near Goldsboro, North Carolina, on 23 January 1961. A Boeing B-52 Stratofortress carrying two 3–4-megaton Mark 39 nuclear bombs broke up in mid-air, dropping its nuclear payload in the process. m). Five crewmen successfully ejected or bailed out of the aircraft and landed safely; another ejected, but did not survive the landing, and two died in the crash. Information declassified in 2013 showed that one of the bombs came very close[ citation needed ] to detonating.The pilot in command, Walter Scott Tulloch, ordered the crew to eject at 9,000 feet (2,700
This section needs additional citations for verification .(January 2018)
The aircraft, a B-52G, was based at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro. Around midnight on 23–24 January 1961, the bomber had a rendezvous with a tanker for aerial refueling. During the hook-up, the tanker crew advised the B-52 aircraft commander, Major Walter Scott Tulloch (grandfather of actress Elizabeth Tulloch), that his aircraft had a fuel leak in the right wing. The refueling was aborted, and ground control was notified of the problem. The aircraft was directed to assume a holding pattern off the coast until the majority of fuel was consumed. However, when the B-52 reached its assigned position, the pilot reported that the leak had worsened and that 37,000 pounds (17,000 kg) of fuel had been lost in three minutes. The aircraft was immediately directed to return and land at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.
As the aircraft descended through 10,000 feet (3,000 m) on its approach to the airfield, the pilots were no longer able to keep it in stable descent and lost control. The pilot in command ordered the crew to abandon the aircraft, which they did at 9,000 feet (2,700 m). Five men landed safely after ejecting or bailing out through a hatch, one did not survive his parachute landing, and two died in the crash. The third pilot of the bomber, Lt. Adam Mattocks, is the only person known to have successfully bailed out of the top hatch of a B-52 without an ejection seat. The crew's final view of the aircraft was in an intact state with its payload of two Mark 39 thermonuclear bombs still on board, each with yields of between 2 and 4 megatons; however, the bombs separated from the gyrating aircraft as it broke up between 1,000 and 2,000 feet (300 and 610 m).
The aircraft wreckage covered a 2-square-mile (5.2 km2) area of tobacco and cotton farmland at Faro, about 12 miles (19 km) north of Goldsboro. Three of the four arming mechanisms on one of the bombs activated after it separated, causing it to execute many of the steps needed to arm itself, such as charging the firing capacitors and deploying a 100-foot-diameter (30 m) parachute.
The first bomb that descended by parachute was found intact and standing upright as a result of its parachute being caught in a tree.Lt. Jack ReVelle, the bomb-disposal expert responsible for disarming the device, stated that the arm/safe switch was still in the safe position, although it had completed the rest of the arming sequence. The Pentagon claimed at the time that there was no chance of an explosion and that two arming mechanisms had not activated. A United States Department of Defense spokesperson stated that the bomb was unarmed and could not explode. Former military analyst Daniel Ellsberg has claimed to have seen highly classified documents indicating that its safe/arm switch was the only one of the six arming devices on the bomb that prevented detonation. In 2013, information released as a result of a Freedom of Information Act request confirmed that a single switch out of four (not six) prevented detonation.
The second bomb plunged into a muddy field at around 700 miles per hour (310 m/s) and disintegrated without detonation of its conventional explosives. The tail was discovered about 20 feet (6.1 m) below ground. Pieces of the bomb were recovered. [ page needed ] Although the bomb was partially armed when it left the aircraft, an unclosed high-voltage switch had prevented it from fully arming.
In 2013, ReVelle recalled the moment the second bomb's switch was found:
Until my death I will never forget hearing my sergeant say, "Lieutenant, we found the arm/safe switch." And I said, "Great." He said, "Not great. It's on arm." That sergeant's name was Earl Smith, of Alabama, who had just graduated the Air Force EOD school nine months prior, and who was the EOD on call and was called to action even before the crash occurred, flown in to the site by helicopter from the base.
Excavation of the second bomb was abandoned as a result of uncontrollable ground-water flooding. Most of the thermonuclear stage, containing uranium and plutonium, was left in place, but the "pit", or core, of the bomb had been dislodged and was removed. 400-foot (120 m) circular easement over the buried component. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill determined the buried depth of the secondary component to be 180 ± 10 feet (54.9 ± 3.0 m). [ page needed ]The United States Army Corps of Engineers purchased a
Wet wings with integral fuel tanks considerably increased the fuel capacity of B-52G and H models, but were found to be experiencing 60% more stress during flight than did the wings of older models. Wings and other areas susceptible to fatigue were modified in 1964 under Boeing engineering change proposal ECP 1050. This was followed by a fuselage skin and longeron replacement (ECP 1185) in 1966, and the B-52 Stability Augmentation and Flight Control program (ECP 1195) in 1967.
Lt. Jack ReVelle, the bomb disposal expert responsible for disarming the device, claimed "we came very close"[ citation needed ] to a nuclear detonation that would have completely changed much of eastern North Carolina. He also said the yield of each bomb was more than 250 times the destructive power of the Hiroshima bomb, large enough to create a 100% kill zone within a radius of 8.5 miles (13.7 km).
In a now-declassified 1969 report, titled "Goldsboro Revisited", written by Parker F. Jones, a supervisor of nuclear safety at Sandia National Laboratories, Jones said that "one simple, dynamo-technology, low voltage switch stood between the United States and a major catastrophe", and concluded that "[t]he MK 39 Mod 2 bomb did not possess adequate safety for the airborne alert role in the B-52", and that it "seems credible" that a short circuit in the Arm line during a mid-air breakup of the aircraft "could" have resulted in a nuclear explosion.In contrast The Orange County Register said in 2012 (before the 2013 declassification) that the switch was set to ARM, and that despite decades of debate "No one will ever know" why the bomb failed to explode.
In 2008 and in March 2013 (before the above-mentioned September 2013 declassification), Michael H. Maggelet and James C. Oskins, authors of Broken Arrow: The Declassified History of U.S. Nuclear Weapons Accidents, disputed the claim that a bomb was only one step away from detonation, citing a declassified report. They point out that the arm-ready switch was in the safe position, the high-voltage battery was not activated (which would preclude the charging of the firing circuit and neutron generator necessary for detonation), and the rotary safing switch was destroyed, preventing energisation of the X-Unit (which controlled the firing capacitors). The tritium reservoir used for fusion boosting was also full and had not been injected into the weapon primary. This would have resulted in a significantly reduced primary yield and would not have ignited the weapon's fusion secondary stage.
In July 2012, the State of North Carolina erected a historical road marker in the town of Eureka, 3 miles (4.8 km) north of the crash site, commemorating the crash under the title "Nuclear Mishap".
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A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or from a combination of fission and fusion reactions. Both bomb types release large quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter.
This is a list of aviation-related events from 1959:
The Tybee Island mid-air collision was an incident on February 5, 1958, in which the United States Air Force lost a 7,600-pound (3,400 kg) Mark 15 nuclear bomb in the waters off Tybee Island near Savannah, Georgia, United States. During a practice exercise, an F-86 fighter plane collided with the B-47 bomber carrying the bomb. To protect the aircrew from a possible detonation in the event of a crash, the bomb was jettisoned. Following several unsuccessful searches, the bomb was presumed lost somewhere in Wassaw Sound off the shores of Tybee Island.
The 1966 Palomares B-52 crash, also called the Palomares incident, occurred on 17 January 1966, when a B-52G bomber of the United States Air Force's Strategic Air Command collided with a KC-135 tanker during mid-air refueling at 31,000 feet (9,450 m) over the Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of Spain. The KC-135 was destroyed when its fuel load ignited, killing all four crew members. The B-52G broke apart, killing three of the seven crew members aboard.
Sometime after midnight on 14 February 1950, a Convair B-36B, Air Force Serial Number 44-92075 assigned to the 7th Bombardment Wing, Heavy at Carswell Air Force Base, crashed in northwestern British Columbia on Mount Kologet after jettisoning a Mark 4 nuclear bomb. This was the first such nuclear weapon loss in history. The B-36B had been en route from Eielson Air Force Base near Fairbanks, Alaska to Carswell AFB in Fort Worth, Texas, more than 3,000 miles southeast, on a mission that included a simulated nuclear attack on San Francisco.
Wassaw Sound is a bay of the Atlantic Ocean on the coast of Georgia, United States near Savannah at the mouth of the Wilmington River.
The Mark 39 nuclear bomb and W39 nuclear warhead were versions of an American thermonuclear weapon, which were in service from 1957 to 1966.
The United States Armed Forces uses a number of terms to define the magnitude and extent of nuclear and radiation accidents and incidents in order to reduce the time taken to report the type of incident, thus streamlining the radio communications in the wake of the event.
On 21 January 1968, an aircraft accident ; Danish: Thuleulykken) involving a United States Air Force (USAF) B-52 bomber occurred near Thule Air Base in the Danish territory of Greenland. The aircraft was carrying four B28FI thermonuclear bombs on a Cold War "Chrome Dome" alert mission over Baffin Bay when a cabin fire forced the crew to abandon the aircraft before they could carry out an emergency landing at Thule Air Base. Six crew members ejected safely, but one who did not have an ejection seat was killed while trying to bail out. The bomber crashed onto sea ice in North Star Bay, Greenland, causing the conventional explosives aboard to detonate and the nuclear payload to rupture and disperse, resulting in radioactive contamination of the area.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to nuclear technology:
On 14 March 1961 an aircraft accident occurred near Yuba City, California. A United States Air Force B-52F-70-BW Stratofortress bomber, AF Serial No. 57-0166, c/n 464155, carrying two nuclear weapons departed from Mather Air Force Base near Sacramento. According to the official Air Force report, the aircraft experienced an uncontrolled decompression that required it to descend to 10,000 feet (3,000 m) in order to lower the cabin altitude. Increased fuel consumption caused by having to fly at lower altitude, combined with the inability to rendezvous with a tanker in time caused the aircraft to run out of fuel. The aircrew ejected safely, and then the unmanned aircraft crashed 15 miles (24 km) west of Yuba City, tearing the nuclear weapons from the aircraft on impact. However, in a 2012 book LTC Earl McGill, a retired SAC B-52 pilot, claims that the aircrew, after an inflight refueling session that provided inadequate fuel, refused the offer of an additional, unscheduled inflight refueling, bypassed possible emergency landing fields and ran out of fuel. The crew ejected, the aircraft broke up and four onboard nuclear weapons were released. The weapons' multiple safety interlocks prevented both a nuclear explosion and release of radioactive material. LTC McGill, based on his SAC experience, blames the aircrew failures on the use of dexedrine to overcome tiredness on the 24-hour flight preceding the accident.
Operation Chrome Dome was a United States Air Force Cold War-era mission from 1960 to 1968 in which B-52 strategic bomber aircraft armed with thermonuclear weapons remained on continuous airborne alert and flew routes to points on the Soviet Union's border.
The 1964 Savage Mountain B-52 crash was a U.S. military nuclear accident in which a Cold War bomber's vertical stabilizer broke off in winter storm turbulence. The two nuclear bombs being ferried were found "relatively intact in the middle of the wreckage", and after Fort Meade's 28th Ordnance Detachment secured them, the bombs were removed two days later to the Cumberland Municipal Airport.
The 1965 Philippine Sea A-4 crash was a Broken Arrow incident in which a United States Navy Douglas A-4E Skyhawk attack aircraft carrying a nuclear weapon fell into the sea off Japan from the aircraft carrier USS Ticonderoga. The aircraft, pilot and weapon were never recovered.
Nuclear ethics is a cross-disciplinary field of academic and policy-relevant study in which the problems associated with nuclear warfare, nuclear deterrence, nuclear arms control, nuclear disarmament, or nuclear energy are examined through one or more ethical or moral theories or frameworks. In contemporary security studies, the problems of nuclear warfare, deterrence, proliferation, and so forth are often understood strictly in political, strategic, or military terms. In the study of international organizations and law, however, these problems are also understood in legal terms. Nuclear ethics assumes that the very real possibilities of human extinction, mass human destruction, or mass environmental damage which could result from nuclear warfare are deep ethical or moral problems. Specifically, it assumes that the outcomes of human extinction, mass human destruction, or environmental damage count as moral evils. Another area of inquiry concerns future generations and the burden that nuclear waste and pollution imposes on them. Some scholars have concluded that it is therefore morally wrong to act in ways that produce these outcomes, which means it is morally wrong to engage in nuclear warfare.
Faro is an unincorporated community in Wayne County, North Carolina, United States.
Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety is a 2013 nonfiction book by Eric Schlosser about the history of nuclear weapons systems in the United States. Incidents Schlosser discusses in the book include the 1980 Damascus Titan missile explosion and the 1961 Goldsboro B-52 crash. It was a finalist for the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for History. A documentary film based on the book aired as an episode of American Experience on PBS in early 2017.
RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk, one of several air bases in the United Kingdom used by the United States Air Force to store nuclear weapons during the Cold War, was the site of two nuclear near-disasters, in 1956 and 1961. Two incidents involving aircraft crashes and subsequent fires causing damage to nuclear weapons very nearly resulted in nuclear material being released into the environment. The existence of these two "Broken Arrow" events was denied by the UK government for several decades. A senior US official was quoted after the 1956 incident as saying "it is possible that a part of Eastern England would have become a desert".
Later, diggers found the ARM/SAFE switch. It was in the ARM position. Why that bomb didn’t explode has been debated for years. Was the ARM/SAFE switch broken? Did the impact of the crash spread out the parts so far they couldn’t affect each other? Was the bomb a dud? No one will ever know.