Bockscar Flight Path
On Bockscar's first pass over Kokura, clouds and smoke from recent bombings impaired visibility. Pilot Charles Sweeney made two more passes but found no window through which his bomber could see the city. He diverted toward a secondary target, about 100 miles away: downtown Nagasaki.
On the return trip, Sweeney knew Bockscar was dangerously low on fuel. He prepared to make an emergency landing at Okinawa, the closest U.S. base, but couldn’t contact the busy airstrip's tower. The crew fired all available flares to signal their arrival. As its fuel-starved engines began to fail, the plane cut into active runway traffic and bounced to a stop behind a B-24 that was taking off.