On January 23, 1961 a B-52 bomber carrying two nuclear weapons broke up in flight. As the plane hurtled towards the ground both nuclear weapons were accidentally released on to farmland near Goldsboro North Carolina. Three crew members on the bomber were killed in the incident.
The B-52 had developed a fuel leak which caused the bomber to become unstable, causing the plane to spin out of control. As the bomber careened towards the ground, centrifugal forces acting on the aircraft pulled on the lever a crew member would normally use to release a nuclear bomb from the plane.
One of the bombs completed all but one of the steps required for a detonation. A single switch prevented the weapon from exploding.
The weapon that almost exploded was 250 times stronger than the Hiroshima bomb, and would have had extreme impact upon Eastern North Carolina. Radioactive fallout from such a detonation could have stretched from North Carolina to New York.
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