During World War II Japan launched thousands of balloon bombs into the jet stream in hopes that some of their deadly cargoes would reach the U.S. mainland to ignite forest fires, blow up buildings, and kill and terrorize citizens.
Of the thousands launched, a few hundred did reach our shores.
Pastor Archie Mitchell, his wife Elsye, and five Sunday school children were heading up Gearhart Mountain for a picnic on May 5, 1945. It was a pleasant spring day. They pulled over to let Elsye, who was pregnant, get some fresh air. She and the five children wandered a ways from the freeway and found what they may have thought was a weather balloon. In any case they somehow disturbed the mystery payload, and just as Ms. Mitchell shouted towards her husband “Look what I found, dear,” a huge explosion ripped through the forest, killing her and the five children.