A-Bomb Witness…………#26 (the 50’s)

A Light in the Sky

A Light in the Sky


It was June 3rd, a school night but that didn’t matter, Gary Michael Willson gathered what he needed to sleep outside in the backyard of his home. The most important item besides his sleeping bag was his wind-up alarm clock, making sure it was set for the early morning event.  The weather forecast for the Bay Area was typical, low ground fog entering thru the Golden Gate, tracking north up the delta and Marin and Sonoma Counties.  The East Bay getting  some broken overcast, but as darkness set in,  the sky coming to life with Venus and Jupiter broadcasting their presence.  From his backyard on Greenly Drive, Mike settling in for the night, his alarm set to waken a beholder.


The 12 year old having heard about am upcoming powerful atmospheric nuclear weapons test at the Nevada test site and that on May 5th 1953, the Director of Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory had requested permission from the AEC, (Atomic Energy Commission), to add Project Climax, a nuclear device, to Operation Up-Shot-Knothole at the Yucca Flats Nevada nuclear test site.  Climax having been planned for the castle nuclear testing series in the pacific ocean.


The morning of the scheduled detonation at O340 hours on June 4th,  six B-36 aircraft of the 57th air division, from Fairchild Air Force  Base Washington, flew in formation at 33,000 feet over the Nevada test site for 47 minutes to simulate strike, and support activities.  While over the test site, the crews tested IBDA,   indirect bombing damage assessment equipment, and familiarized themselves with operations pertaining to the use of nuclear weapons.  Preceding thee squadron, was a B-36 weather reconnaissance aircraft of the 19th air division from Fairchild Air Force Base.



The time having arrived operation Climax was about to commence.  At 0415 hours,  after several practice runs on a 268 degree heading at  26,000 feet, and a air speed of 250 knots,  a B-36 Peacemaker,  from the 4925th Test Group, Kirtland Air Force Base, with the climax nuclear device,  A 30 point five inch wide, 183 inch long nuclear bomb, weighing 1840 pounds with an 900 pound implosion unit was released and detonated at a height of 13 hundred and 34 feet above area 7 of Yucca Flats.  The bottom of the cloud reaching 35,000 feet, while the top of the cloud attained a height of 42,000 feet.


Mike watched as Project Climax’s nuclear flash briefly lit up the eastern horizon, even with a dim slightly overcast morning sky, this blast was by far the largest Mike had witnessed.  The air dropped atomic device was projected to discharge over 60 kilotons  of explosive, and after viewing the prodigious horizon impression, justified their calculation.  The last verification test Mike had witnessed was on an April Saturday morning, and reported as a 43 kilotons tower detonation, the illumination brilliance of climax was by far eminent.


Mike knew that the news broadcast that night would be as customary,  announcing that a nuclear explosion rocked the Nevada Test Site desert, producing a giant mushroom cloud, bellowing up into the stratosphere, and being observed  as far away as Las Vegas.  He wondered how many people  had taken time out of their life to even acknowledge this page of history.  The youth also having many other congruous questions, why didn’t more of humanity attest to the events of an ever present macrocosm.  Was their inquisitiveness imprisoned, or were they just jaundiced in their resolve and egocentric in their search for the Unrevealed.


2 Responses to “A-Bomb Witness…………#26 (the 50’s)”

  1. Dee Chisolm Says:

    How often do you write your blogs? I enjoy them a lot 2 9 8

    • gwillson7 Says:

      Thank you for asking. I write everyday and have a lifetime of events to tell about. Its fun reliving and writing about them.

      Take care………………………….Gary

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