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The military uses the term “broken arrow” to describe any incident in which a nuclear weapon is lost, stolen or inadvertently detonated. That might seem like a rare phenomenon, but records show that the United States has experienced more than 30 such close calls since the beginning of the nuclear age. Risks were particularly high during the Cold War, when bombers armed with thermonuclear weapons patrolled the skies around the clock. With so many planes in the air, a few experienced mishaps that led to crashes and unplanned bomb drops. In 1957, a 42,000-pound hydrogen bomb accidentally fell through the bomb bay doors of a B-36 bomber as it flew over New Mexico. The bomb’s non-nuclear conventional explosives detonated upon impact, killing a grazing cow and leaving behind a crater 12 feet deep. Luckily, the nuclear payload did not blow. Another famous near-disaster came in 1961, when a B-52 bomber suffered a fuel leak and exploded over Goldsboro, North Carolina. The plane broke apart and released two Mark 39 hydrogen bombs. All that prevented one of them from detonating was a single low-voltage safety switch.
Similar fail-safe measures have ensured that no broken arrow has ever resulted in a nuclear blast, but there have been a few incidents in which a weapon was lost and never found. During the Vietnam War, a plane carrying a nuclear bomb slid off the aircraft carrier Ticonderoga and disappeared in the Pacific. In 1968, the submarine Scorpion mysteriously sank with all 99 hands—and two nuclear-tipped torpedoes—off the coast of the Azores. The Soviet Union experienced a similar disaster two years later, when the nuclear submarine K-8 went down in the Bay of Biscay. All told, the combined broken arrows of the United States and Russia have left several dozen nuclear warheads lost at sea.
What is a broken arrow? - HISTORY
To lose or miss an object of great importance.
Taken from the military code(fact or fictional)to lose a nuclear weapon.
"What the Fuck are you up to Hale" (Travolta to Slater)
"Ah Fuck" - Travolta (Deakins)
"God Damn You Hale" Travolta (Deakins)
"Son of a Bitch, radiation took down the god damn chopper" Long (Kelly)
"What the Fuck are you doing?" Long (Kelly)
"Shut that son a bitch down now, this ain&apost what I signed on for, I&aposm not ready to die not for you" Long (Kelly)to Travolta
This tornado touched down 3 miles southwest of Drumright in Payne County and struck the Oak Grove Community at about 3:55 pm CST, heavily damaging the school. The tornado moved east-northeast into Drumright a few minutes later, causing extensive damage through the northwestern portion of the community. Six people were killed in a nursing home and another 6 persons died at various locations in the city.
It continued moving northeast and struck the community of Olive, destroying parts of the school along with 2 mobile homes and several frame homes. One person was killed in Olive. The tornado then continued on a northeasterly course and damaged Pier 51 on Lake Keystone. It destroyed several mobile homes about 7 miles west-southwest of Sperry and one person was killed in this area. The tornado then turned a more north-northeasterly track and produced damage to several brick homes west of Skiatook before it dissipated.
The tornado killed a total of 14 people, including 12 in Drumright, one in the town of Olive, and one near Sperry. Approximately 150 people were injured along the path of the storm.
A violent squall line brought heavy rains and tornadoes to the Tulsa area during the late afternoon of June 8, 1974. The heavy rains and tornadoes combined to produce one of the worst natural disasters in Tulsa's history. Two deaths were attributed to one of the tornadoes and one death to flash flooding.
One of the tornadoes touched down just west of Tulsa at about 17:50 CST and moved east-northeastward across the city. Some of the worst damage occurred near the intersections of 51st and Union, 41st and Peoria, and 21st and Garnett. A 17-year-old girl living near the 21st and Garnett area was fatally injured. The Red Cross also reported that a 71-year-old man in Tulsa was also killed.
Upon leaving Tulsa, the tornado took a more northeasterly track and produced more damage near Catoosa, Claremore, and Big Cabin before it dissipated. In addition to producing 2 fatalities, the tornado also injured 80 people. The damage path was 45 miles long with a width up to 100 yards in some areas.
The second tornado to strike the Tulsa area on June 8, 1974 also touched down at 17:50 CST near Sapulpa and moved into Tulsa near 91st Street and Elwood Avenue. At the Riverside Airport, the anemometer pegged 100 knots for several minutes. The tornado moved in an east-northeastward direction causing extensive damage to Oral Roberts University (ORU) and the residential additions of Walnut Creek and Southridge Estates which are adjacent to the ORU campus. Extensive damage also occurred at the Player Park housing addition north of 71st Street.
The tornado continued in the east-northeasterly direction, and caused damage at or near Broken Arrow, Inola, and Chouteau before dissipating. The damage path was 45 miles long and up to 100 yards wide. A total of 42 persons were injured by the tornado.
The tornado touched down 1.5 miles south of Glenpool and moved east before turning to the east-southeast and passing through the Bixby Heights area south of the town of Bixby. All 5 deaths occurred in a mobile home park in the Bixby Heights area. The majority of the injuries occurred when the tornado struck a small church while evening services were in progress, and the roof collapsed upon the attendees at the church. The church was adjacent to the mobile home park.
A tornado touched down on the north edge of Collinsville, OK and skipped intermittently east-northeast along a 5-mile-long path. A trailer house on the northern side of Collinsville was destroyed, resulting in the death of the woman occupant. Tree damage was heavy along the tornado's path with numerous twisted trees being observed.
This tornado touched down in East Tulsa near 6th Street and 135th East Avenue at 550 pm CST. The tornado moved northeast for about a mile before entering Rogers County at 553 pm CST. There, a truck stop near Interstate 44 and 161st East Avenue took a direct hit from the tornado. Numerous tractor-trailers and cars were destroyed in the vicinity of the truck stop. Six people were killed at or near the truck stop.
The tornado then continued northeast into Catoosa where several residential neighborhoods and the Colonial Port Mobile Home Park received heavy damage. The seventh and final fatality associated with this tornado occurred at the mobile home park. The tornado dissipated at 603 pm CST 1 mile west of State Highway 66 north of Catoosa. Total damage was estimated at $500, 000.
The tornado developed over Keystone Lake, west of Appalachia Bay Recreation Area. The beginning of this tornado was filmed by storm chasers. The tornado moved east-southeast across the lake waters and adjacent uninhabited land areas. Damage is strongly suspected to trees in this segment of the tornado but those suspected areas were not accessible by road.
The tornado crossed into Osage County over Keystone Lake and quickly crossed OK State Highway 412. It then moved through a wooded area that was inaccessible by road. The first damage that was accessible by the survey team was at S 209th W Avenue, where the tornado damaged a church, snapped large tree limbs, and damaged a home. It moved east- southeast toward W Archer Road snapping or uprooting trees and damaging homes.
The tornado moved into Tulsa County at W Archer Road to the east of S 209th W Avenue. The roofs of several homes were damaged and trees were uprooted as it crossed S 193rd W Avenue. The tornado moved southeast crossing OK State Highway 412, where it snapped or uprooted numerous trees and blew a tractor trailer off the road . A doughnut shop was destroyed at S 177th W Avenue, homes were damaged, and trees and poles were snapped. It crossed the Arkansas River and moved through the River Oaks Estates Mobile Home Park where it destroyed 58 mobile homes and two permanent homes. One fatality and about 30 injuries occurred in this park. The tornado crossed the Arkansas River again as it moved east-southeast toward Sand Springs, uprooting numerous trees before dissipating on the south side of Sand Springs, south of OK State Highway 412 and just west of OK State Highway 97. Based on this damage, maximum estimated wind in the tornado was 125 to 135 mph.
Records taken from the Storm Prediction Center archive data, "Storm Data", and data from the National Weather Service office in Norman. Data modified as described in NOAA Tech Memo NWS SR-209 (Speheger, D., 2001: "Corrections to the Historic Tornado Database").
Historic data, especially before 1950, are likely incomplete.
Mr. Tornado is the remarkable story of the man whose groundbreaking work in research and applied science saved thousands of lives and helped Americans prepare for and respond to dangerous weather phenomena.
The Polio Crusade
The story of the polio crusade pays tribute to a time when Americans banded together to conquer a terrible disease. The medical breakthrough saved countless lives and had a pervasive impact on American philanthropy that continues to be felt today.
Explore the life and times of L. Frank Baum, creator of the beloved The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
THE SONG ANALYST: “Broken Arrow”
Today we’re going to talk about “melodic rhythm” it’s used in Robbie Robertson’s song “Broken Arrow.”
by Robbie Robertson
Today we’re going to talk about “melodic rhythm” it’s used in Robbie Robertson’s song “Broken Arrow.”
It’s always been amazing to me that all of Western music comes from only 12 notes. That’s it, that’s all you’ve got. From Mozart to Metallica, it’s all those 12 notes. Granted, some folks bend them, but the fact remains that somehow, from just 12 notes, we get all of the music that has roots in Europe. And what’s even more amazing is that most of this music is made from only seven of these 12. Each complete major scale (and the related minor scales) is made up of only seven notes.
So how is it that we don’t have just a few melodies? I mean, how many ways can you arrange 12 notes (or just seven) into a melody? A lot, it turns out.
First of all, even though we have only seven notes in most songs or compositions, each note can be played or sung in different octaves. For example, the first two notes of the song “Over the Rainbow” are the same (i.e. the same letter) but they’re sung an octave apart. Try it. Sing the first word of the line “Somewhere over the rainbow.” I’ll give you a moment. The note for “some” is the same as the note for “where,” only they’re an octave apart. So one way we get variety is by using the same notes in different octaves. The letter is the same. The pitch is different.
Another reason there is such variety in music is mathematical. Leaving aside different octaves for a moment, you have a choice of seven notes to start your melody. The second note can be-at a minimum-any of the seven different notes in that key. So, there are 49 unique two-note combinations to start your melody with. And you have seven times seven times seven or 343 different, unique combinations for a three-note melody. And as you add more notes to your melody, the possibilities grow exponentially! Not all these combinations will sound fantastic, but they all exist.
Faced with so many possibilities for his melody, Robbie Robertson made some interesting choices to generate a powerful melody for “Broken Arrow.” For the first seven notes of the chorus, he uses the exact same note! He’s got lots of possibilities but he chose to stay right where he was! The shape or contour of this part of the melody is completely flat.
Now in theory, it seems like a flat melody would be boring. But keeping a melody flat does a number of things. For one, there’s a sense of consistency, solidity and strength, and there’s emphasis. In the case of this song, the repetition has a feeling of urgency, of the same message being repeated over and over. And, in fact, the melody is emphasizing the urgency of the lyrics:
Who else is gonna bring you a broken arrow?
Who else is gonna bring you a bottle of rain?
Robertson is showing just how strongly he feels about these questions and how important they are by the power of melodic repetition.
And he uses two techniques to make this flat melody interesting. First, he doesn’t place all the notes on the beat. Put another way, if you were clapping along with the song, he doesn’t sing all the notes when you’re clapping-he fills in between the claps. He syncopates the rhythm of the melody.
Second, he didn’t sing just any note. He chose the fifth note in the key, a note which-because of the music Westerners are accustomed to hearing-has a very tension-filled sound. Check it out. If you can sing do-re-mi-fa and so on, you can hear the fifth note. Just pick any pitch and call it “do.” The fifth note you sing is sol.
So Robertson created a beautiful and haunting melody in part just by varying the rhythm of the notes. As an exercise, pick a melody you’ve written (or one you love) and take keen notice of the rhythm. Clap along and notice where the notes fall. Then, try changing the rhythm of the notes and see what happens.
Another great exercise is as follows: sing a melody and notice its shape. Is it flat like Holland? Does it go up and down quickly like Switzerland? Or is it more of a gently sloping sonic landscape like water swells in the azure waters off the coast of the Bay Islands of Honduras? (Oops, just got caught up in a travel fantasy for just a moment.)
Have fun and listen deeply. Melodic rhythm isn’t a rule it’s just a tool to help melodies reach people more powerfully.
What's in a Name?
One of the most common questions asked of Broken Arrow personnel is, “How did the name come about?”
Andy Leggett, the Clinical Director of Broken Arrow and co-founder, was responsible for the unusual name.
“I am often asked if the name came from one of many songs with Broken Arrow as a part of the title and/or lyric”, responded Mr. Leggett. “And, although it is partially true, I just thought that the idea of a “Broken Arrow” was a wonderful metaphor for the youth with whom we work. Once an arrow is broken, it is never really fixed. But we can repair an arrow to fly again. And there is nothing more beautiful in flight than a broken arrow. I think it describes the work we do with the youth and families very well.”
To provide treatment services to children and youth within a group of specialized therapeutic homes that foster the growth and development of the individual to achieve their optimum potential.
To improve the health and well-being of the children and youth in our care.
Everyone has the right to have their needs and challenges met
Working together as a team to achieve goals
We do what is right even though it is not always the easiest choice
Regardless of where they come from and how it has shaped them, we will meet their needs
The city’s name comes from an old Creek community in Alabama. Members of that community were expelled from Alabama by the United States government, along the Trail of Tears in the 1830s. The Creek founded a new community in the Indian Territory, and named it after their old settlement in Alabama. The town’s Creek name was Rekackv (pronounced thlee-Kawtch-kuh), meaning “broken arrow”. The new Creek settlement was located several miles south of present-day downtown Broken Arrow.
In the 1960s, Broken Arrow began to grow from a small town into a thriving suburban city. The Broken Arrow Expressway was constructed in the mid-1960s and connected the city with downtown Tulsa, fueling rapid growth in Broken Arrow. The population swelled from a little above 11,000 in 1970 to more than 50,000 in 1990, and then more than 74,000 by the year 2000, with current population at over 110,000. During this time, the city was more of a bedroom community. In recent years, city leaders have pushed for more economic development to help keep more Broken Arrowans working, shopping and relaxing in town rather than going to other cities.
Broken Arrows: Nuclear Weapons Accidents
Since 1950, there have been 32 nuclear weapon accidents, known as "Broken Arrows." A Broken Arrow is defined as an unexpected event involving nuclear weapons that result in the accidental launching, firing, detonating, theft or loss of the weapon. To date, six nuclear weapons have been lost and never recovered.
Date: November 10, 1950
Location: Quebec, Canada
A B-50 jettisoned a Mark 4 bomb over the St. Lawrence River near Riviere-du-Loup, about 300 miles northeast of Montreal. The weapon's HE [high explosive] detonated on impact. Although lacking its essential plutonium core, the explosion did scatter nearly 100 pounds (45 kg) of uranium. The plane later landed safely at a U.S. Air Force base in Maine.
Date: March 10, 1956
Location: Exact Location Unknown
Carrying two nuclear capsules on a nonstop flight from MacDill Air Force Base near Tampa, Florida to an overseas base, a B-47 was reported missing. It failed to make contact with a tanker over the Mediterranean for a second refueling. No trace was ever found of the plane.
Date: July 27, 1956
Location: Great Britain
A B-47 bomber crashed into a nuclear weapons storage facility at the Lakenheath Air Base in Suffolk, England, during a training exercise. The nuclear weapons storage facility, known as an "igloo," contained three Mark 6 bombs. Preliminary exams by bomb disposal officers said it was a miracle that one Mark 6 with exposed detonators sheared didn't explode. The B-47's crew was killed.
Date: February 5, 1958
Location: Off Georgia, United States
In a simulated combat mission, a B-47 collided with an F-86 near Savannah, Georgia. After attempting to land at Hunter Air Force Base with the nuclear weapon onboard, the weapon was jettisoned over water. The plane later landed safely. A nuclear detonation was not possible since the nuclear capsule was not on board the aircraft. Subsequent searches failed to locate the weapon.
Date: February 28, 1958
Location: Great Britain
A B-47 based at the U.S. air base at Greenham Common, England, reportedly loaded with a nuclear weapon, caught fire and completely burned. In 1960, signs of high-level radioactive contamination were detected around the base by a group of scientists working at the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment (AWRE). The U.S. government has never confirmed whether the accident involved a nuclear warhead.
Date: January 24, 1961
Location: North Carolina, United States
While on airborne alert, a B-52 suffered structural failure of its right wing, resulting in the release of two nuclear weapons. One weapon landed safely with little damage. The second fell free and broke apart near the town of Goldsboro, North Carolina. Some of the uranium from that weapon could not be recovered. No radiological contamination was detectable in the area.
Date: July 4, 1961
Location: North Sea
A cooling system failed, contaminating crew members, missiles and some parts of a K-19 "Hotel"-class Soviet nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine off Norway. One of the sub's two reactors soared to 800 degrees Celsius and threatened to melt down the reactor's fuel rods. Several fatalities were reported.
Date: December 5, 1965
Location: Pacific Ocean
An A-4E Skyhawk attack aircraft loaded with one B43 nuclear weapon rolled off the deck of the USS Ticonderoga. Pilot, plane and weapon were never found.
Date: Mid-1960s (Date undetermined)
Location: Kara Sea
Soviet nuclear-powered icebreaker Lenin was forced to dump its reactors in the Kara Sea. Some accounts said the Lenin experienced a reactor meltdown.
Date: January 17, 1966
Location: Palomares, Spain
A B-52 carrying four nuclear weapons collided with a KC-135 during refueling operations and crashed near Palomares, Spain. One weapon was safely recovered on the ground and another from the sea, after extensive search and recovery efforts. The other two weapons hit land, resulting in detonation of their high explosives and the subsequent release of radioactive materials. Over 1,400 tons of soil was sent to an approved storage site.
Date: April 11, 1968
Location: Pacific Ocean
A Soviet diesel-powered "Golf"-class ballistic missile submarine sank about 750 miles northwest of the island of Oahu, Hawaii. Reports say the submarine was carrying three nuclear-armed ballistic missiles, as well as several nuclear torpedoes. Part of the submarine was reportedly raised using the CIA's specially constructed "Glomar Explorer" deep-water salvage ship.
Date: November 1969
Location: White Sea
The U.S. nuclear-powered submarine Gato reportedly collided with a Soviet submarine on November 14 or 15, 1969, near the entrance of the White Sea.
Date: April 12, 1970
Location: Atlantic Ocean
A Soviet "November"-class nuclear-powered attack submarine experienced an apparent nuclear propulsion problem in the Atlantic Ocean about 300 miles northwest of Spain. Although an attempt to attach a tow line from a Soviet bloc merchant ship the submarine apparently sank, killing 52.
Date: November 22, 1975
Location: Off Sicily, Italy
The aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy and the cruiser USS Belknap collided in rough seas at night during exercises. Although it was declared as "a possible nuclear weapons accident," no subsequent nuclear contamination was discovered during the fire and rescue operations.
Date: October 3, 1986
Location: Atlantic Ocean
A Soviet "Yankee I"-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine suffered an explosion and fire in one of its missile tubes 480 miles east of Bermuda. The submarine sank while under tow on October 6 in 18,000 feet of water. Two nuclear reactors and approximately 34 nuclear weapons were on board.
Date: April 7, 1989
Location: Atlantic Ocean
About 300 miles north of the Norwegian coast, the Komsomolets, a Soviet nuclear-powered attack submarine, caught fire and sank. The vessel's nuclear reactor, two nuclear-armed torpedoes, and 42 of the 69 crew members were lost.
Date: August 10, 1985
Location: Near Vladivostok, Russia
While at the Chazhma Bay repair facility, about 35 miles from Vladivostok, an "Echo"-class Soviet nuclear-powered submarine suffered a reactor explosion. The explosion released a cloud of radioactivity toward Vladivostok but did not reach the city. Ten officers were killed in the explosion.
Date: September 27, 1991
Location: White Sea
A missile launch malfunction occurred during a test launch on a "Typhoon"-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine.
Date: March 20, 1993
Location: Barents Sea
The U.S. nuclear-powered submarine Grayling collided with a Russian Delta III nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine. Both vessels reportedly suffered only minor damage.
Date: February 11, 1992
Location: Barents Sea
A collision between a CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) "Sierra"-class nuclear-powered attack submarine with the U.S. nuclear-powered attack submarine Baton Rouge. Both vessels reportedly suffered only minor damage. There is a dispute over the location of the incident in or outside Russian territorial waters.
Date: August 12, 2000
Location: Barents Sea
The CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) "Oscar II" class submarine, Kursk, sinks after a massive onboard explosion. Attempts to resuce the 118 men fail. It is thought that a torpedo failure caused the accident. Radiation levels are normal and the submarine had no nuclear weapons on board.
Amazing Story of the Lost H-Bomb
First flying on December 17, 1947, the Boeing B-47 Stratojet gave the U.S. Air Force intercontinental nuclear bombing capability and established the pattern for the sweptwing jet bombers to follow.
Timothy Karpin & James Maroncelli
May 13, 2019
When an F-86 Sabre Dog collided with a B-47 Stratojet during a training exercise in 1958, the bomber pilot was forced to ditch his payload—a 1.69-megaton nuclear weapon.
Seven and a half hours into their training mission, Major Howard Richardson and his Boeing B-47B Stratojet flight crew finally began to relax after an evening of deploying electronic countermeasures and chaff to evade prowling North American F-86 fighters. The sky was clear and full moonlit. Heading south at 35,000 feet and 495 mph over Hampton County, S.C., their next stop was home.
Suddenly, without warning, a massive jolt yawed their aircraft to the left, accompanied by a bright flash and ball of fire off their starboard wing.
The three airmen assumed they had been struck by something, but observed nothing. Training and experience took over as Richardson delicately descended his bomber to 20,000 feet to assess the damage and stability of the aircraft. At the far edge of the right wing, the crew could clearly see the no. 6 jet engine pointing upward at a 45-degree angle and strips of metal extending off the normally smooth aluminum-clad wing. The starboard wing external fuel tank was gone.
Richardson ordered his crew to prepare to eject as he pushed the fire shutoff switch to cut fuel to the still-thrusting engine, which was now nudging the aircraft into a left roll. His copilot, seated directly behind him, transmitted mayday alerts over the UHF Guard Channel. Richardson reduced his speed to 240 mph, extended the landing gear and wing flaps, and found that he could control the bomber. To trim it correctly he soon dropped the 1,780-gallon port wing tank after his navigator confirmed they were over an unpopulated area. With a barely flyable aircraft, Richardson soon realized he needed to lighten his load to increase his chances of landing safely. That load was an almost 4-ton hydrogen bomb. Thus began what is to this day one of the most controversial U.S. Air Force Strategic Air Command “broken arrow” events of the Cold War.
A Strategic Air Command (SAC) B-47 squadron maintains standby alert amid the Cold War. (U.S. Air Force)
During the late 1950s, SAC worked diligently to improve its ability to quickly deploy strategic bombers and accurately deliver nuclear weapons onto target. To train aircrews for that role, SAC conducted Simulated Combat Missions (SIMCOMs), during which B-47 crews would typically carry unarmed nuclear weapons and perform electronic bombing, radioing the data back to ground stations for accuracy scoring. The onboard weapons served to give the flight crews the most realistic weight and handling experiences in case they ever had to respond to an actual Soviet attack.
By 1954, SAC could deliver a “Sunday punch” of 750 strategic bombs from a combination of B-36s, B-47s and B-50s stationed in the U.S., Britain and elsewhere. Not long after, SAC implemented a 24-hour alert program for its strategic bomber force. Beginning in 1955, selected bomb wings had their B-47s and KC-97 aerial refueling tankers armed, fueled and parked on the runway, ready to go.
Midafternoon on February 4, 1958, Major Richardson began to prepare his B-47B-50-BW serial no. 51-2349A and crew for a SIMCOM, codenamed Operation Southern Belle. A member of the 19th Bombardment Wing, 30th Bombardment Group, at Homestead Air Force Base (AFB) in southern Florida, Richardson was an experienced B-47 command pilot and flight instructor with more than 1,800 hours on this type. His aircraft had been upgraded the prior October to the same configuration as the newer E model, part of an extensive modification program to remove alarming structural and safety weaknesses in the B-model fleet. Copilot 1st Lt. Robert J. Lagerstrom and radar-navigator/bombardier Captain Leland W. Woolard accompanied him as the ground crew prepared their 95-ton combat-weight aircraft, call sign Ivory II. A second B-47 (Ivory I) would join them that night, forming the Ivory Cell. In the bomber’s nose beneath the cockpit, Woolard would focus his attention that night on the AN/APS-64 search radar and accompanying scopes to accurately deliver the electronic “bomb.”
The nuclear weapon specialists from the Homestead aviation depot squadron prepped Ivory II’s thermonuclear payload at its munitions storage area. There they informed Richardson that his bomb was transportation-configured and thus contained no uranium pit, or capsule, which would have been required for a nuclear detonation. In the video documentary America’s Lost H-Bomb, Richardson recounted, “Before takeoff you would go down to the munitions center and you would sign a document signing for the weapon. And it would give the serial number identification of the weapon and what aircraft it was loaded on board and who its aircraft commander was, and that’s where I signed my name.” That document, an Atomic Energy Commission to Air Force “Temporary Custodian Receipt [for maneuvers],” stated that the signatory “will allow no assembly or disassembly of this item while in my custody, nor will I allow any active capsule to be inserted into it at any time.” The word “simulated” was scribbled on line C, reportedly for the capsule. Some historians have interpreted this to mean that the bomb contained an inert lead ball in place of the nuclear pit. Armed only with .45-caliber pistols, the specialists towed the bomb from the storage area to the flight line at a crawling 5 mph.
During the summer of 1955, SAC had begun to deploy the “lightweight” 1.69-megaton-yield Mark 15 Mod 0 hydrogen bomb, a blunt-nosed 7,600-pound beast that was about 11½ feet long and a little less than 3 feet in diameter. The 400 pounds of high explosive in the fission primary surrounded a 15-pound highly enriched uranium pit. If called upon, the crew would arm this “open-pit” weapon by activating the automatic inflight insertion system, a screw jack that pushed the capsule into the center of the explosive lenses. Otherwise, the capsule was accessible only by removing and replacing the parachute package in the rear of the bomb casing. In any case, the Mk. 15 filled most of the bomb bay, rendering it impossible for crew members to modify it in flight. Inflight insertion of the capsule was not planned for that night. The thermonuclear secondary contained about 165 pounds of highly enriched uranium, which would provide 80 percent of the bomb’s yield.
Richardson directed the loading of the Mk. 15 into the bomb bay. As aircraft commander, he had the final responsibility for ensuring the bomb was properly stowed and its monitoring, control and release systems were connected. Since this was a training flight, the weapon specialists did not hand over a separate capsule to the flight crew, which would normally have been encased in a metal cylinder called a birdcage. “We didn’t carry a capsule on the plane,” Richardson later recounted. At that time, President Dwight D. Eisenhower would not permit SAC bombers to carry fully armed nuclear weapons on training flights. SAC had yet to deploy “sealed pit” weapons, which precluded their removal from the primary.
At 4:51 p.m. that cool, crisp afternoon, Ivory Cell took off from Homestead and headed west over the Gulf of Mexico. After rendezvousing with a KC-97 Stratofreighter and topping off their fuel load, the two B-47s turned north, flew over New Orleans and headed for the Canadian border over Minnesota. With about 2,000 miles logged, they rolled back to the southeast toward the small town of Radford, Va., their simulated bombing target for the night. On the way, the crew practiced evading fighter interceptors by deploying electronic countermeasures and dispensing chaff to confuse radar.
Over Radford at 37,000 feet at 11:55 p.m., Woolard completed the electronic bomb drop (most likely targeting the Radford Arsenal), with the required signal transmitted to SAC leadership for evaluation. Although they spotted more interceptors in the distance, the crew were informed that the airspace south of Virginia was “friendly” and assumed their evasion exercises were finished for the night. Ivory I soon advanced about a mile ahead of Richardson’s Ivory II.
To fend off any incoming Soviet bombers on the East Coast, Air Defense Command had established the 444th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron under the 35th Air Division at Charleston AFB in South Carolina in early 1954. ADC tasked pilots in F-86L Sabre Dog fighters with intercepting bombers on their training flights. That night, they were not informed that the airspace south of Virginia was friendly territory. Three Sabre Dogs—some of the first deployed with the Hughes AN/APG-37 air-to-air radar and E-4 fire-control system—were fueled, armed and connected to engine start-up power carts for a rapid response.
A North American F-86L Sabre Dog of the 444th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, 1st Lt. Clarence A. Stewart’s unit, sits at Charleston AFB, S.C., where his flight originated. (U.S. Air Force)
First Lieutenant Clarence A. Stewart was one of the pilots waiting in the alert shack at the end of the runway when the horn went off at 12:08 a.m. Stewart strapped into his interceptor and climbed out five minutes later with his two wingmen. Radar crews at the 792nd Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron soon directed Stewart to intercept Ivory Cell and position his aircraft less than a mile above and about 15 miles behind Ivory II. In fighter pilot vernacular he called “Judy,” signaling that his quarry was in sight and he was now using his airborne radar to track and dive down to the bomber in a tail chase. With his face pressed against the hood of his radar scope, he steered a blip on the greenish-yellow radar screen toward the target. But he was unaware that his radar had locked onto Ivory I, and he was descending unknowingly toward Ivory II. During the final seconds before the computed impact time of his simulated rocket attack, Stewart felt unusual turbulence buffeting his fighter, like the wash from a jet engine. At 12:33 he momentarily looked up from his radar scope and later remembered seeing the sky “filled with airplane.”
Stewart reflexively rolled his fighter 30 degrees right to avoid a collision as Ivory II’s starboard wing guillotined off 8 feet of his port wing and external fuel tank. His fuselage impacted the rear of the B-47’s no. 6 J47 engine mount and tore off the bomber’s external tank. The Sabre Dog’s starboard wing then quickly tore away. Tumbling in a fireball, Stewart ejected and survived a 22-minute, frostbitten parachute ride from 35,000 feet into a swamp near Estill, S.C. In a strange twist of aerodynamics, the wingless fuselage glided onto a field mostly in one piece near Sylvania, Ga., about 14 miles west of the South Carolina border. Five weeks after the collision, search crews found Stewart’s radar recorder, which was attached to his canopy. Analysis clearly indicated that the fighter’s radar had incorrectly locked onto Ivory I, instead of the closer Ivory II, another one in a long line of software failures of this technology. Stewart was vindicated.
Once Richardson gained positive control of his damaged bomber at 20,000 feet, he raised the landing gear and flaps. Lagerstrom contacted Hunter AFB about 50 miles to the south and requested permission to land there. The base’s control tower informed him that renovation work on the main runway was incomplete, leaving an 18-inch vertical lip of concrete exposed at its eastern end, where Ivory II would be landing. Richardson knew that if he landed short and snagged the drooping engine or landing gear on that lip, the force of the deceleration could cause the bomb shackle to fail, and the 4-ton payload would tear forward through the aircraft, possibly detonating the impact-sensitive high explosives. Richardson later explained, “If we hit it, that doggoned weapon would be just like a bullet going through a rifle barrel”—and at the end of that barrel was his cockpit.
Lagerstrom also requested the tower to contact SAC Headquarters and Homestead AFB, notifying them of their emergency and requesting permission to release their “hot cargo” before landing. Richardson, however, could not wait. SAC tactical doctrine prioritized the safety of the crew in the event of an emergency. Richardson thus had the intrinsic authority to dispose of the weapon offshore, and he took matters into his own hands after a short discussion with the crew, recounting, “So I decided then we better release this weapon.”
As he headed south, just east of Savannah, Ga., a little past 1 a.m., Richardson reduced his altitude to about 7,200 feet, slowed to 230 mph and prepared to turn east into the downwind leg prior to landing. Turning east somewhere over Wassaw Sound, at the mouth of the Wilmington and Bull rivers, he instructed Woolard to release the bomb and record the coordinates. Woolard leaned to his bombardier instrument panel on his right, flipped a toggle switch to hydraulically open the bomb bay doors, rotated back the red cover over the bomb release toggle switch and flipped it. A later comparison between the drop locations recorded by Richardson and Woolard showed little match. Art Arseneault, a former lieutenant commander of one of the Navy’s explosive ordnance disposal units who was involved in the attempt to recover the weapon, recounted in the America’s Lost H-Bomb video, “Unfortunately, the no. 6 engine had been damaged, and that’s what 50 percent of the power to the radar was generated by. So, we ended up with a very distorted radar picture.”
The bomb arced downward for 20 to 25 seconds. The crew searched the dark sea, but saw no detonation or splash. As Richardson continued through the landing pattern from base to final, the tower informed him that SAC had given permission to drop the weapon, but only 20 miles out over the Atlantic Ocean. Richardson informed the tower that they were too late.
Ivory II sustained damage to its vertical stabilizer and rear fuselage, left wing and right outboard J47 turbojet in its midair with an F-86L Sabre Dog. (U.S. Air Force)
Refocused on landing, Richardson dropped his speed on final to 225 mph, about 48 mph above stalling speed. As he fought to keep the right wing up, the bomber impacted the runway and bounced. Lagerstrom immediately deployed the braking parachute, and Ivory II settled onto the runway for the last time. By about 1:30, the emergency was finally over.
Richardson later said that upon exiting through the lower hatch, “I think all three of us kissed the tarmac.” Only then could they fully see the extent of the damage. A 9-square-foot wing section at the right aileron was crushed inward to the aft main wing spar, leaving it cracked. Debris from Stewart’s fuselage and wing had ripped holes in the vertical and horizontal stabilizers of the bomber’s tail, and had penetrated the auxiliary fuel tank in the main fuselage. Inspectors later found a chunk of the F-86’s port wing leading edge embedded in the B-47’s vertical stabilizer, jammed against the rudder post. Some aircraft mechanics were surprised that the bomber had not disintegrated in flight. Although Air Material Command deemed the aircraft repairable, the Air Force totaled it.
Responding personally to this broken arrow incident, SAC commander General Thomas Power and his staff hastily arrived at Hunter AFB that morning. After Richardson and his crew had slept a few hours, they completed their debriefing with Power and then rode back to Florida in Power’s KC-135 Stratotanker. During the return flight, the general approached Richardson and his crew and unexpectedly pinned a Distinguished Flying Cross on Richardson and commendation medals on Lagerstrom and Woolard for their skilled and heroic acts.
The loss of the Mk. 15 spurred an immediate and intensive nine-week search. Expecting the bomb to be buried nose-down beneath 5 to 15 feet of silt at a depth of less than 40 feet in estuarine water, the Air Force’s 2700th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Squadron and approximately 100 Navy personnel deployed sonar, galvanic (magnetic) and cable drag equipment in the search area. Years later, Art Arseneault recounted: “The general showed me a map of the East Coast of the United States. Right off Savannah he showed me a pencil mark and said that the bomb is right there. The only problem with that was the pencil mark was a half mile wide and four miles long.” Abandoning the search on April 16, the Air Force declared the bomb irretrievably lost.
In the 60-plus intervening years, the lost Mk. 15 has generated a cloud of controversy. Following pressure from his constituents and the media, in early August 2000 U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston of Georgia requested the Air Force to re-investigate the lost bomb. After consultations with the Navy, the Department of Energy, the Savannah District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography, the Air Force continued to hold firm that it was in the best interest of the public and the environment to leave the bomb in place and to perform no additional searches.
Further controversy has surrounded whether the weapon contained a nuclear pit. Policy and procedures in 1958 prevented Air Force personnel from loading armed nuclear weapons onto training flights. If depot personnel did not accurately identify a pit-equipped weapon, however, then one with a pit could accidentally be loaded. In his book 15 Minutes, L. Douglas Keeney described the skill set of some depot squadrons: “One group was monitored as they loaded and unloaded no fewer than six different bombs on a B-47. They flunked because of errors in assembly.” Such observations raised doubts regarding the presence of a pit in Ivory II’s bomb.
The Air Force could settle the matter by providing evidence that the capsule was stored and properly inventoried at the munitions depot. To date, however, it has yet to correct the record regarding the type of pit in question, continuing to state inaccurately there was no “plutonium” pit in the weapon. Further muddying the historical assessment, in April 1966 W.J. Howard, assistant to the secretary of defense for atomic energy, wrote a letter to the Congressional Joint Committee for Atomic Energy claiming that the Mk. 15 bomb lost near Savannah was a complete weapon—that is, it contained a nuclear capsule. The Air Force later provided data to Howard that challenged the facts of his letter, and he retracted his earlier conclusion.
One fact is clear. The extreme deceleration of the bomb as it impacted the water at a little less than 500 mph and then plowed into the silty bottom must have caused massive internal damage. The thinner nose would have crushed inward, potentially coinciding with the thermonuclear secondary driving forward through it and separating from the cast-iron outer casing, rendering the weapon no longer fusion capable. This effect had been observed in another 1950s broken arrow incident. Over time, the batteries would have disintegrated in the seawater and lost any charge needed by the electrical detonators. The shape of the high explosives would likely have been distorted, preventing the precisely symmetrical implosion required for any nuclear yield. Decades of seawater exposure would have seriously corroded the casing and exposed the explosives to further chemical alteration. In the unlikely event that the explosives detonated, the bomb would certainly be a dud. Even then, though, fragments of uranium metal could be dispersed throughout the local seabed.
Richardson’s decision to ditch his hydrogen bomb over the waters 12 miles from midtown Savannah has understandably generated a range of emotional responses from the local citizenry. Until it can either be located or retrieved, the presence of this nuclear device in Georgia’s coastal waterway will continue to produce an unending litany of doubts, fears and conspiracy theories regarding the dangers it harbors.
Timothy Karpin and James Maroncelli are the authors of The Traveler’s Guide to Nuclear Weapons: A Journey Through America’s Cold War Battlefields, available at atomictraveler.com. Additional reading: A Technical History of America’s Nuclear Weapons: Their Design, Operation, Delivery and Deployment, by Dr. Peter A. Goetz 15 Minutes: General Curtis LeMay and the Countdown to Nuclear Annihilation, by L. Douglas Keeney and Boeing B-47 Stratojet: Strategic Air Command’s Transitional Bomber, by Robert Hopkins III and Mike Habermehl.
This feature originally appeared in the July 2019 issue of Aviation History. Subscribe here!
History of Broken Arrow Oklahoma -74012
The city’s name comes from an old Creek community in Alabama.  Members of that community were expelled from Alabama by the United States government, along the Trail of Tears in the 1830s. The Creek founded a new community in the Indian Territory, and named it after their old settlement in Alabama. The town’s Creek name was Rekackv (pronounced thlee-Kawtch-kuh), meaning broken arrow. The new Creek settlement was located several miles south of present-day downtown Broken Arrow.
The community of Elam, located in present day Broken Arrow near 145th East Avenue and 111th Street, began around 1901. It consisted of a cluster of stores, a gin, and a few homes. 
In 1902 the Missouri–Kansas–Texas Railroad planned a railroad through the area and was granted town site privileges along the route.  They sold three of the as-yet-unnamed sites to the Arkansas Valley Town Site Company. William S. Fears, secretary of that company, was allowed to choose and name one of the locations. He selected a site about 18 miles (29 km) southeast of Tulsa and about five miles north of the thlee-Kawtch-kuh settlement and named the new town site Broken Arrow, after the Indian settlement. [ citation needed ] The MKT railroad, which was completed in 1903, ran through the middle of the city. It still exists today and is now owned by Union Pacific which currently uses it for freight.
For the first decades of Broken Arrow’s history, the town’s economy was based mainly on agriculture.  The coal industry also played an important role, with several strip coal mines located near the city in the early 20th century. The city’s newspaper, the Broken Arrow Ledger, started within a couple of years of the city’s founding. Broken Arrow’s first school was built in 1904.  The city did not grow much during the first half of the 1900s. During this time Broken Arrow’s main commercial center was along Main Street. Most of the city’s churches were also located on or near Main Street as well. A 1907 government census listed Broken Arrow’s population at 1,383. 
The Haskell State School of Agriculture opened in the Broken Arrow, Oklahoma Opera House on November 15, 1909. The school closed in 1917 for lack of funding, and the building was then used as Broken Arrow High School. The building was razed in 1987.  Only a marker, shown here, remains at 808 East College Street in Broken Arrow. The front of cornerstone reads, “Haskell State School / Of Agriculture / J. H. Esslinger Supt. / W. A. Etherton Archt. / Bucy & Walker Contr.” The side of cornerstone reads “Laid by the Masonic Fraternity / May 25, A. D. 1910, A. L. 5810. / George Huddell G. M. / Erected by The State Board of Agriculture / J. P. Conners Pres. / B. C. Pittuck Dean.”. The school is commemorated on the National Register of Historic Places.
In the 1960s, Broken Arrow began to grow from a small town into a suburban city. The Broken Arrow Expressway (Oklahoma State Highway 51) was constructed in the mid-1960s and connected the city with downtown Tulsa, fueling growth in Broken Arrow. The population swelled from a little above 11,000 in 1970 to more than 50,000 in 1990, and then more than 74,000 by the year 2000. During this time, the city was more of a bedroom community. In recent years, city leaders have pushed for more economic development to help keep more Broken Arrowans working, shopping and relaxing in town rather than going to other cities.
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