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Uploaded on Nov 21, 2011
Vintage 8MM home movie of several nuclear bomb blasts from 1962 on Christmas Island. This was part of Operation Dominic. The pilots in the movie were flying B57 high altitude planes collecting air samples from the bomb clouds. This shows the decontamination process and their living quarters. A longer description is below:
A typical mission went like this. Each pilot would have a specific take-off time. It could be five, ten or fifteen minutes before detonation or immediately after detonation time. We would climb to a designated altitude and toward the mushroom cloud. (If we took off before detonation we would make sure we were heading in the opposite direction at zero time). Another B57 pilot with an engineer in the back seat would join up with us for a few minutes to give us an exact heading to hold while we flew through the cloud. We would also be given an emergency exit heading should the cloud become too hot. We would know this by the reading of the radiation detection instruments, which were installed in the back seat. My navigator would read these gage numbers over the air as we flew through the cloud. I would be responsible for opening the air sampling valves on the empty tip tanks. If the gages did not max out I would hold the heading until I came out the other side of the cloud, I would immediately head back to the airstrip, land, and taxi to the decontamination area. After shutting down the engines, I would raise the canopy. This allowed the decon specialists, who were dressed in white protective gear and wearing big gloves, to drive a forklift with a raised wooden platform on its tongs to the edge of the cockpit. An airman on the platform would first lift the navigator, then me out of the cockpit. This procedure prevented us from touching the outside of the airplane. The only protection we wore was a lead vest over our thin summer flight suit. Instead of the usual heavy flight boots, we wore light athletic sneakers. The reason for this was that after we were taken to the decontamination building we discarded all of our clothing into a large empty oil drum. I guess these were then washed and used again. We were then directed to the shower area where we used some strong hard soap to wash off any external radiation we might have accumulated. After drying off we were checked with a Geiger counter and if the numbers were too high we returned to the showers until we got the numbers down to a safe? Number. Normally two showers would suffice, but I heard the record for one crew was seven showers. Short hair was a must, as hair would trap the radiation. To measure how much radiation each crewmember accumulated, we would wear a dosimeter attached to a string around out neck and would also swallow a radiation detection pill. It was about one inch long and shaped like a football. It was hinged in the center to allow a dosimeter in its center to be read after retrieval. The method of retrieving it was not something we looked forward to.