Lost Nuke

The Last Flight of Bomber 075

Reviewed by Mark Collin Reid

September 18, 2013

In a story seemingly drawn out of a Hollywood action script, the tale of America’s first “broken arrow” — code for a lost nuclear weapon — is gripping stuff. The fact that the weapon disappeared over Canadian airspace makes this a unique chapter in Canadian aviation history. The drama began on February 13, 1950, when the crew of an American B-36 bomber reported fire in three of the plane’s engines. As the crew parachuted to safety, the plane, along with its radioactive and potentially devastating payload, plummeted towards the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest. What followed was a period of intense searching — for survivors and for the bomb — followed by a cover-up by U.S. officials eager to keep news of a lost nuke out of the headlines. In Lost Nuke, aviation historian Dirk Septer does an admirable job of pulling the story together in a fashion that’s both informative and enjoyable.

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