As far as I can tell, there’s nothing new in the flurry of recent press coverage about the near-detonation of an H-bomb near Goldsboro, North Carolina after a B-52 broke apart in flight on January 24, 1961. But declassified documents draw press coverage, so I am grateful to Eric Schlosser for unearthing a memo about this event while researching his new book, Command and Control.
To bolster deterrence and to counter a bolt-out-of-the-blue Soviet attack, the Pentagon flew B-52s carrying nuclear weapons on airborne alert, around the clock.
Goldsboro wasn’t an isolated incident. In January 1966, another B-52 carrying nuclear weapons went down along the coast of Spain after colliding with a tanker. After yet another B-52 crash in Greenland in January 1968, the Pentagon finally stopped this practice – seven years after the Goldsboro near-miss.
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