HomeNews1961 Goldsboro B-52 Crash: When USA Almost Nuked North Carolina

    1961 Goldsboro B-52 Crash: When USA Almost Nuked North Carolina

    The United States of America is the most powerful country in the world. A strong army, a powerful economy, possession of nuclear warheads, and control over global politics make it a country no one can mess with.

    But even the US had a brush with a catastrophe back in 1961 where they came close to almost nuking themselves out. The accident, also known as the 1961 Goldsboro B-52 Crash, is one of the most infamous ones and is remembered as a nuclear mishap in American history.

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    When The USA Came Close To Nuking North Carolina

    1961 Goldsboro B-52 Crash

    62 years ago at the time of the Cold War, the USA was in a constant state of fear of a nuclear attack from the Soviet Union. But for a moment, the country came close to nuking itself.

    On 23 January 1961, a Boeing B-52 Stratofortress bomber was carrying two 3–4 megaton Mark 39 nuclear bombs. The plane broke up mid-air, accidentally dropping the hydrogen bombs over Goldsboro, North Carolina.

    Because of the cold war, the Strategic Air Command kept several bombers, armed with warheads, flying throughout the day, seven days a week. One of them was the United States Air Force bomber that was carrying two Mark 39 thermonuclear bombs, each with an explosive yield of 3–4 megatons.

    The pilot in command Major Walter S. Tulloch, ordered everyone to eject from 9,000 ft, five crew members successfully bailed out of the plane and landed safely. The others weren’t that lucky as one did not survive the landing while two died in the crash.

    What Caused The 1961 Goldsboro B-52 Crash?

    1961 Goldsboro B-52 Crash

    On a fateful day in 1961, the B-52 was refueled in the air from an air tanker. The crew notified Maj. Tulloch that the plane’s right wing was leaking fuel. The severe leak resulted in the loss of more than 5,400 gallons (37,000 pounds) of jet fuel. That too in less than three minutes.

    The B-52 was then directed to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina for an emergency landing. As the plane descended, the disproportionate fule load created an unbalance and made it difficult to maneuver.

    The bomber went out of control after the right-wing broke off and the crew was ordered to eject. The information regarding the crash was declassified in 2013. It mentioned that one of the bombs came close to detonating while three of the four bombs required triggering mechanisms to have activated.

    In 2012, a road marker was erected by the State of North Carolina in Eureka, which is 3 miles away from the Goldsboro B-52 crash site.

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