Mark-17 Broken Arrow - New Mexico - May 27, 1957
(Or how I How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb)
In 1957, the United State Air Force dropped a bomb. Specifically, the largest weapon ever fielded, a 15 Megaton Mark-17 thermonuclear weapon, out of the bomb bay of a B-36 Peacemaker. This was not a planned nuclear test, nor was it on a remote test range. This event happened just miles from what is today the Albuquerque International Airport, and it was completely unintentional.
In an event that almost turned into scene reminiscent of Slim Pickens in Dr. Strangelove, the bomb was released from its harness, falling onto the bomb-bay doors, and eventually to the desert floor below, causing a large conventional explosion from the chemical high explosives used to compress the core in the primary of the Mark-17.
The loss of a Mark-17 was my first Broken Arrow investigation, and I first located the site of this accident in 2009. Like many of these expeditions, it took a few trips into the field to locate