Sunday marks 65 years since atomic bomb was lost near Tybee Island

Published: Feb. 1, 2023 at 3:32 PM EST
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TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WTOC) - On February 5, 1958, two military planes were carrying out a training exercise.

The problem came when a fighter jet crashed into a bomber which had an atomic bomb on board.

“In order to land safely because Hunter Airfield was still under construction, in order to land safely, the only way they could do that was to drop the bomb in the water off Tybee Island,” said Sarah Jones, the executive director of Tybee Historical Society.

The U.S. Military launched a recovery effort the next day. They called off the search after a little over a month and to this day, the bomb hasn’t been found.

Since then, it has become the source of tall tales and legends.

“There was some vague notion that maybe a Russian submarine came in and found the bomb and hauled it off, but if that ever happened, it was never substantiated,” said Jones.

There are different accounts of whether the bomb was actually live when it was lost which causes people to speculate about what kind of risk it poses.

“If it were to go off, some say the explosion would be a mile wide, and that the aftereffects would be up to ten times that amount,” said Jones

Any threat from the weapon is something Tybee Islanders have taken in stride.

Joe Inglesby finds the story intriguing... intriguing enough to put it on a t-shirt.

“We got hats and T-Shirts, and sweatshirts, and all kinds of merchandise. I guess that’s been almost 20 years ago,” said Joe Inglesby, the founder of Tybee Bomb Squad.

Inglesby’s shirts have become such a hot item in local souvenir shops, he’s planning on launching a website and an Instagram page to sell more.

He finds that people just can’t get enough of the Tybee bomb.

“You find out more facts about it and this and that, so it’s- it could go on forever but there’s always someone that wants to know something about it, or thinks they know something about it. It’s a good topic. For Tybee, anyway,” said Inglesby.

The bomb itself was huge. It would’ve weighed over 7,000 pounds.

The Department of Energy believes the bomb is likely in the Wassaw Sound, which sits between Little Tybee Island and Wassaw Island.

But, the official consensus is clear.

If you think you’ve found the bomb or any bomb, for that matter- leave it alone and call 911.