Charles Donald Albury, Miami-born co-pilot of the plane that dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki — and a longtime Eastern Airlines captain after World War II — died May 23 at an Orlando hospital. He was 88.
On Aug. 6, 1945, "Don" Albury flew a support plane – the Great Artiste – for the mission of another Miamian, Col. Paul Tibbets Jr., who unleashed the nuclear age with an A-bomb attack on the Japanese city of Hiroshima.
Three days later, Tibbets dispatched 1st Lt. Albury, co-pilot Maj. Charles Sweeney, an eight-man crew and a nuclear weapon called Fat Man aboard the B-29 Bockscar from the Mariana Islands. Two other planes accompanied them as they headed for Japan.
Though plagued with complications and missteps, the mission ultimately succeeded. At 11:02 a.m. Aug. 9, Albury's crew released the bulbous, 10,200-pound explosive over the city of Nagasaki, a secondary target, instantly killing an estimated 40,000 civilians.
Another 35,000 subsequently died from injuries and radiation sickness. Japan surrendered on Aug. 14.
For the rest of his life, Albury – as did Tibbets, who died in 2007 – said he felt no remorse, since the attacks averted what was certain to be a catastrophic U.S. invasion of Japan.
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