Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

10 Unsolved Airplane Mysteries

        Science | Modern

7
The Missing H-bomb
No wonder the Air Force pilot was concerned; this island in the Marshalls was destroyed when an H-bomb exploded there in the fall of 1952. © Bettmann/CORBIS
No wonder the Air Force pilot was concerned; this island in the Marshalls was destroyed when an H-bomb exploded there in the fall of 1952. © Bettmann/CORBIS

During a routine training mission off the coast of Georgia in February 1958, a B-47 bomber accidentally collided with an F-86 fighter jet whose pilot didn't see the bomber on his radar. The crash tore the left wing off the fighter and severely damaged the bomber's fuel tanks. The bomber pilot, Air Force Col. Howard Richardson, was confronted with an agonizing dilemma. His aircraft happened to be carrying a 7,000-pound (3,175-kilogram) H-bomb, and Richardson was worried that the bomb would break loose from his damaged plane when he tried to land.

To avoid that situation, he went with his only other option, and dumped the bomb into the waters off Tybee Island, Ga., before landing at Hunter Air Force Base outside Savannah. The Navy searched for the lost bomb for more than two months, without success, and for decades, its location has remained a mystery. The Air Force says the bomb presents little hazard if left undisturbed [source: NPR].


More to Explore