Sean Smyrichinsky had no intentions of solving a mystery almost half a decade old. The scuba diver was hunting for sea cucumbers off the coast of British Columbia when he discovered what he thought looked like a crashed flying saucer.
It was not a flying saucer. That much is clear. The Canadian Department of National Defense believes it could be Mark IV Nuclear bomb dropped from a ill-fated American B-36 bomber that crashed in the area in 1950.
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The Canadians are sending naval ships to the site, which lies off the Haida Gwaii archipelago, to see just what it might be.
Mr Smyrichinsky says it was “bigger than a king-size bed.” He described the object as flat on top with a rounded bottom. He said it looked “like a bagel.”
“I found something really weird, I think it’s a UFO,” he joked when he came to shore.
As word spread through the sparsely populated coastal area, an “old-timer” thought he might have found something big. “Maybe you found that nuke they lost here in the 50s!”
An American B-36 Bomber crashed near British Columbia en route to Carswell Air Force Base in Texas. This was 1950–the early days of the Cold War. The crew’s mission was to practice a nuclear strike, and their target was San Francisco. Though it was a practice run, they had a real MArk IV in the B-36, to see how the plane would deal with the weight.
When the engines caught fire, the crew had no choice but to bail out. 12 of the 17 crew members survived. This image below is thought to be the last known photo of the plane before it went down.
News of the crash, and the bomber’s payload, wasn’t made public immediately. When news leaked, the Air Force assured the public that the bomb wasn’t capable of a nuclear explosion. Though the Mark IV contained a large amount of TNT, this bomb had a lead core instead of a plutonium core, meaning it wasn’t capable of nuclear reaction.
The crew reportedly set the autopilot so the plane would crash at sea, but it didn’t. The wreckage was found in Canada, three years after the crash.
Dirk Septer, an aviation historian, says the US government scoured the area for the bomb, but is was never found. It was not in the wreckage.
“It was a mystery to everyone,” he told the BBC. “It was the height of the Cold War and they were just paranoid that the Russians would get a hold of it.”
The crew, who didn’t want to risk a crash landing with a bomb bay full of TNT, reported that they’d dropped the bomb in the ocean.
While authorities are checking on the item, historians are dubious about the claim. The location, based on the accepted flight path of the doomed aircraft, doesn’t fit with this new discovery.
“It could be anything,” Mr Septer said. “Whatever he found, it’s not the nuke.” Speculation about what it is that he found is now running rampant. Until we know, the bomb remains a mystery. This documentary below explains much more about the crash, and contains a number of theories that make the question much more compelling.