In a scenario that could’ve been extremely devastating, the United States narrowly averted a nuclear disaster in 1961 when an atomic bomb nearly detonated after falling out of a B-52 bomber that broke up in the sky.
According to the Washington Post, the incident took place on January 21, 1961 – less than 20 years after nuclear bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki – and is explained further in a recently declassified report published by the National Security Archives.
When the US Air Force aircraft went into a tailspin and broke up, the two bombs fell towards Goldsboro, North Carolina. The parachute for one of the weapons failed to deploy, and the plane crash had actually pushed the bomb into “armed” mode by the time it hit the ground. Luckily for North Carolina, the plane’s destruction also damaged the switch necessary to trigger detonation