FARO, WAYNE COUNTY - A plane carrying two hydrogen bombs crashed in Eastern Carolina, almost causing a blast that would have been 260 times more powerful than the weapon that flattened Hiroshima, according to a newly-released document.
In January 1961, a B-52 bomber carrying two 24-megaton bombs broke up in the air and crashed in Faro, near Goldsboro, according to the document obtained by investigative reporter Eric Schlosser under the Freedom of Information Act.
Mary Lancaster, a resident near the area of the crash, said she woke up to sounds of the plane coming down.
"A lot of people thought the world was going to end, [but] that never crossed my mind. I just thought it was an airplane falling and that's what it was," Mary said.
According to the document, the B-52 bomber from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base had problems during a training mission. It fell in scattered pieces in the area off Big Daddy's Road. One of the bombs "fell in a field without exploding."
The document also stated just "one simple, low-voltage switch" - which could easily have been shorted - prevented "bad news -in spades."
Mary's husband, Earl Lancaster, said the Air Force heavily guarded the area where one of the bombs fell for at least six months.
"They asked everybody to leave and go as far as they could because it was dangerous," Earl said.
The report was written by a senior engineer eight years after the incident, but was just recently released to the public.