The discovery of a large World War II-era bomb buried at a Florida regional airport prompted an evacuation that extended half a half in every direction, according to investigators.
A construction company is credited with finding the 1,000-pound explosive, as crews were digging along Helicopter Drive near Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport, the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office reported in a Tuesday, Feb. 6, Facebook post. The airport is about 50 miles north of Tampa.
It was buried at the northeast corner of the airport, an area that “was used as a bombing range back in the day,” the sheriff’s office told McClatchy News.
Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis said the bomb was “so rusted and decayed there is certainly no way of telling whether it’s live ammunition or inert.” The evacuation included closing roads in the area, he said.
The discovery was made around 3 p.m. on Tuesday, and it was approximately three hours later that experts with the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office bomb team declared the weapon inert, officials said.
“A team from MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa still plans to respond to the scene to help dispose of the ordnance,” the sheriff’s office said.
The bomb was found at a spot designated to host the Wilton Simpson Technical College campus in Brooksville, officials said.
Ordnance experts identified it as an AN-M65 GP bomb.
“The M65 1,000-pound general purpose (GP) bomb was typically used against reinforced targets like dams and concrete or steel railroad bridges,” the National Museum of the United States Air Force reports. “The P-47 Thunderbolt could carry two M65s, while the B-26 medium bomber could carry four.”
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