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1950 B-36 Broken Arrow in Canada

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posted on May, 5 2010 @ 02:15 PM
I saw this on the National Geographic Channel recently, and it really got me hooked. On Feb 13th, 1950, B-36 44-92075 departed Eielson AFB, Alaska on a routine flight. They were to travel South, remaining clear of Canadian airspace, before entering the US near Washington, flying East to Montana, then turning South again to California. Once they reached the Southern tip of California, they were to turn North and perform a simulated nuclear weapon release over San Fransisco, recovering in Texas. The aircraft departed with 16 crew, and one observer. Also onboard was a Mark-IV nuclear weapon, and 5000lbs of conventional explosives. The Mark-IV was the first nuclear weapon that could have the core installed in flight.

Approximately 7 hours into the flight, three of the six engines caught fire. The crew decided to bail out of the aircraft, and the autopilot was set to fly the aircraft to the Southwest, over the Pacific, where it would crash. The Mark-IV was dropped from the aircraft, and detonated in a conventional explosion at approximately 1700 feet. The Canadian military rescued 12 of the 17 men that were on board, and an extensive search was launched for the remaining 5, although their remains were never found. They were never told that there was a nuclear weapon on the aircraft.

Here's where it gets interesting. The aircraft was never searched for, because it was assumed that it was at the bottom of the Pacific. In 1953, crews searching for a missing millionaire found the wreckage of an almost intact B-36, on the side of Mount Kologet. It was identified as being 44-92075. Mount Kologet is about 50 miles from the Alaskan border, roughly due east from the towns of Stewart, BC and Hyder, AK, on the east side of the isolated Nass Basin northwest of Hazelton, British Columbia, the complete opposite direction that the aircraft was last seen flying, and higher than the aircraft was flying when it was abandoned. Later witness interviews with Capt Harold Barry, the Aircraft Commander, show that shortly after he bailed out, he witnessed the aircraft make a 180 degree turn, despite the autopilot being set.

SAC reported that a radio homing device on the aircraft operated for several hours after the crew abandoned the plane, but they couldn't explain how the aircraft ended up where it did. Many theories have been put forward, including winds causing the aircraft to turn, the autopilot turn feature, interacting with winds, etc. The most intriguing theory however, is that Capt. Ted Schreier, the weapons officer, and one of the 5 never found, may have remained onboard, to try to protect the bird-cage and core of the Mark-IV. Several people have speculated that he was able to take control of the aircraft, and attempted to land at a small airfield in the area where the aircraft finally crashed. Capt Schreier was a certified pilot, but had never flown anything as large as the B-36. In addition to this, Capt Schreier was not seen to have bailed out of the aircraft. When the crew on the flight deck were preparing to bail out, it was pointed out that he had put his Mae West life jacket on over his parachute. He took it off, to put it on right, at which point the two pilots bailed out. They both said they did not see anyone else get out of the plane.

In 1954, a USAF search crew reached the crash site. Upon reaching the site, they removed anything they didn't want to fall into enemy hands, and used incindiary grenades on the wreckage to destroy the rest. One of the things removed was the crash proof container that a Mk-IV core was carried in. Records show that no core was ever issued for this flight, but it was possible that Capt Schreier thought that there was one on the aircraft, and was trying to protect it. Another thing they were reported to have removed from the scene was a body bag, although that was never confirmed.

Interestingly, the USAF records show that the B-36 crashed on Vancouver Island. They also show that there were no remains found, and any attempts to prove that Capt Schreier even exist, by going through USAF records have reportedly failed.

This was the first Broken Arrow, and by far the most intriguing.

posted on May, 5 2010 @ 02:44 PM
Very interresting.

It is one of too many incident involving nuclear weapons over Canada.

Here is another one.

* November 10, 1950 – Rivière du Loup, Québec, Canada – Non-nuclear detonation of an atomic bomb

* Returning one of several U.S. Mark 4 nuclear bombs secretly deployed in Canada, a USAF B-50 had engine trouble and jettisoned the weapon at 10,500 feet (3,200 m). The crew set the bomb to self-destruct at 2,500 ft (760 m) and dropped over the St. Lawrence River. The explosion shook area residents and scattered nearly 100 pounds (45 kg) of depleted uranium used in the weapon's tamper. The plutonium core (“pit”) was not in the bomb at the time.
from wiki

I remember reading more about this on an English website a few years ago. Now I only seem to find article in french. For those fluent in Moliere's language a more complete recollection of this story is here

This incident was only made public in 2000. I wonder if any studies were made to compare the cancer rate in people of this region. As I understand, blowing a nuclear bomb (even if not activated) scatters uranium over a vast distance.

[edit on 5-5-2010 by grandnic]

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