'Dead' A-Bomb Hits US Town (1958)
On March 11, 1958 a U.S. Air Force B-47 Stratojet from the Hunter Air Force Base's 308th Bombardment Wing in Savannah, Georgia took off around 4:34 p.m. It was scheduled to fly to the United Kingdom for Operation Snow Flurry. The plane was required to carry nuclear weapons in the event of war with the Soviet Union breaking out. Air Force Captain Bruce Kulka was the navigator and was summoned to the bomb bay area after the captain of the plane had encountered a fault light in the cockpit indicating that the bomb harness locking pin for the transatlantic flight did not engage. As Kulka was reaching around the bomb to pull himself up, he mistakenly grabbed the emergency release pin. The Mark 6 bomb dropped to the floor of the B-47 and the weight forced the bomb bay doors open sending the bomb 15,000 feet (4,572 m) down to the ground below. Although the bomb did not contain the removable core of fissionable uranium and plutonium (the core was securely stored in a containment area on board the plane and thus the bomb was not technically a traditional "atomic" bomb per se.), it did contain 7,600 pounds (3,447 kg) of conventional explosives. The resulting explosion created a mushroom cloud and crater estimated to be 75 feet (23 m) wide and 25--35 feet (7.6--10.7 m) deep. It destroyed a local home, the residence of Walter Gregg, and levelled nearby trees. Nobody was directly killed from the blast but several people in Gregg's family were injured from the explosion.