The B-47 bomber was on a simulated combat mission from
Homestead Air Force Base in Florida. It was carrying a single 7,600-pound (3,400 kg) bomb. At about 2:00 AM, an F-86 fighter collided with the B-47. The F-86 crashed after the pilot ejected from the plane. The damaged B-47 remained airborne, plummeting 18,000 feet (5,500 m) from 38,000 feet (12,000 m) when Major Richardson regained flight control.
The crew requested permission to jettison the bomb, in order to reduce weight and prevent the bomb from exploding during an emergency landing. Permission was granted, and the bomb was jettisoned at 7,200 feet (2,200 m) while the bomber was traveling at about 200 knots (370 km/h). The crew did not see an explosion when the bomb struck the sea. They managed to land the B-47 safely at the nearest base, Hunter Air Force Base. The pilot, Colonel Howard Richardson, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross after this incident.