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As Russian ships closed in on the American blockade of Cuba, the world was essentially a giant powder keg with President John F. Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev each holding a lighter.
The White House put a number of restrictions on its military in hopes of preventing any sparks that could ignite a full-blown war.
One of the restrictions was an order that all pilots stay at least miles away from Soviet airspace. However, on October 26, the same day Vasili Arkhipov saved the world in a sub off Cubaone American U-2 was flying an intelligence mission over the Arctic.
Due to magnetic anomalies, flying over the top of the world is tricky business. Yep, a pilot flying so high that he can see the curvature of the earth was using the same instrument as an 18th century pirate.
Continue Reading Below Continue Reading Below Advertisement While the primitive system had worked in the past, with the fate of the world hanging in in the balance, the shit took this opportunity to hit the fan. The pilot lost his way and ended up over Siberia, deep in Soviet territory. As Soviet Migs raced to intercept the plane, the U.
For good measure, the Air Force armed the American fighter jets with nuclear missiles and gave the pilots clearance to launch them as they saw fit.
The U-2 made it out of Soviet airspace safely, but for a good 15 minutes, while everyone was watching the world almost end in Cuba, the fate of humanity was being controlled by a handful of fighter pilots, who are notoriously cocky, erratic loose cannons who have trouble following orders.
Admittedly, we learned everything we know about fighter pilots from Top Gun. America controls this "Hammer of God" power via an electronic device, known as the football, carried by the president all the time. To activate the football, you need to first type in codes, which are kept on a card nicknamed the "biscuit," which is also kept with the president at all times.
Without the biscuit, the president is essentially carrying around a bag of useless wires. Clinton and his staff realized what a huge deal this was, and lied about having lost them to the military.
An aid told the general in charge of checking on the biscuit that Clinton had it, but was in a very important meeting. Eventually, like a student caught without his homework, Clinton came clean that he had misplaced the biscuit and that America was defenseless against nuclear attack.
Getty "Hey, at least I told the truth this time. I totally almost fucked our country.
Even the hawkish Republicans have been known to lose track. Inwhile presiding over a Peace Conference in Paris, the White House was too busy puzzling over that wacky long French bread and misplaced the Nuclear Doomsday Football.
No, I thought you had the football. Much to his horror, inside the case full of sensitive electronic gadgetry somebody in the Ford administration had placed an empty beer can and a "large condom used by horse breeders. In fact, the Brits never even had codes for their nuclear weapons.
They had something much more secure: Their military never included fail-safes on their nuclear weapons, and kept them secured behind a bike lock. Asked why they were so trusting, officials gave the most British answer ever: For more ways planet earth was and is endangered, check out Nuke the Moon: Do you have an idea in mind that would make a great article?
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