On November 24, 1961, all communication links between the U.S. Strategic Air Command (SAC) and the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD) suddenly went dead, cutting cutting off the SAC from three early warning stations in England, Greenland and Alaska. The communication breakdown made no sense, though. After all, a widespread, total failure of all communication circuits was considered impossible, because the network included so many redundant systems that it should have been failsafe. The only alternative explanation was that a full-scale Soviet nuclear first strike had occurred. As a result, all SAC bases were put on alert, and B-52 bomber crews warmed up their engines and moved their planes onto runways, awaiting orders to counterattack the Soviet Union with nuclear weapons. Luckily, those orders were never given. It was discovered that the circuits were not in fact redundant because they all ran through one relay station in Colorado, where a single motor had overheated and caused the entire system to fail.
* Entry from "The Limits of Safety: Organizations, Accidents and Nuclear Weapons" (book by Scott Douglas Sagan): @
* Entry from "Book of Lists: Subversive Facts and Hidden Information in Rapid-Fire Format" (entry by Alan F. Phillips, book by Russell Kick): @