For certain rural residents of the Carolinas during the Cold War, apocalyptic anxiety hit disturbingly close to home. In 1958 and 1961, the American Air Force lost nuclear weapons over the skies of South and North Carolina, respectively, raining potential apocalypse on the folks below.
In both incidents, complete catastrophe was avoided thanks to that ever-potent combination of foresight and unmitigated dumb luck. And in the former incident, the bomb fell square on some unsuspecting children's playhouse.
The first accident occurred over Florence, South Carolina on March 11, 1958, slightly after 4:30 in the afternoon. An American B-47E bomber was flying from Savannah, Georgia to Bruntingthorpe Air Base in England for exercises — onboard was a Mark 6 30-kiloton fission bomb.
After experiencing some mid-flight difficulties with the bomb's locking pin, Captain Bruce Kulka entered the aircraft's bomb bay to inspect the device. It was at this very moment that the dark slapstick inadvertently started. Recounts American Heritage magazine of the Kubrickian scene that unfolded next:
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