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 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.

    On 5 May 1953, the Director of Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory requested permission from the AEC ( Atomic Energy Commission) to add CLIMAX, a nuclear device, which was planned for the CASTLE Series in the Pacific Ocean to Operation UPSHOT-KNOTHOLE at the Yucca Flats Nevada Nuclear Test Site.

June 4th at 0340 hours at an altitude of 33,000 feet, six B-36 aircraft of the 57th Air Division from Fairchild AFB, Washington flew in formation 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 the squadron was a B-36 weather reconnaissance aircraft of the 19th Air Division from Fairchild AFB.

At 0415 hrs. after several practice runs of a 268 degree heading at  26,000 ft. and a air speed of 250 knots, a B-36 from the 4925th Test Group (Atomic), Kirtland AFB with the CLIMAX nuclear device, a 30.5 inches wide, 183 inches long bomb, weighing 1840 with an 900 lb. implosion unit was dropped and detonated at a height of 1,334 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.

Project Climax Nevada Test Site blast.

Operation Upshot-knothole Project Climax’s flash lit up the eastern horizon even in the dim slightly overcast morning sky, this blast was by far the largest Mike had witnessed.  The air dropped device atomic blast was projected to be over 60 kilotons in magnitude and the prodigious impression justified their calculation. The last verification test he witnessed was on an  April  Saturday morning and was reported as a 43 kilotons tower detonation and this one from all appearance definitely much bigger.   Mike knew that the news would flood the radio and television broadcast that night, 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 magnificence of a full moon or the streaking shower of a meteors plunging earthward displaying an effervescence tail.  Was their inquisitiveness imprisoned or were they just jaundiced in their resolve and egocentric in their search.

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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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