If you've learned anything from reading Cracked, it's that the past is a bizarre and confusing place. That's why so many of its photos, when viewed out of context, are bizarre and/or terrifying. And in many cases, adding the context just makes them worse.
So let's do that now ...
13Pass the Popcorn
National Nuclear Security Administration
Don't pop it first. We got that covered.
It looks like somebody cut the bleachers out of a photo of a little league game and cleverly pasted them onto this pic of a mushroom cloud, maybe for an awesome album cover or something. But this is in fact an unaltered photo depicting more or less how they passed the time around the beginning of the Cold War -- just gathering together to sing songs and share stories around the nuclear campfire.
Between 1951 and 1992, over 900 nuclear detonations were conducted there in the Nevada desert, and the mushroom clouds could occasionally be seen from Las Vegas. And people did see them -- as weird as it is to see military personnel just hanging out watching the detonation of a doomsday device, civilians around town would organize viewing parties on rooftops to get a good view of the blast (admit it -- you'd watch a nuclear explosion if you had the chance).
There's no real word on how many of these folks got leukemia or turned into Hulks, but let's just say there is a reason this is no longer a popular pastime.
12I Never Actually Passed Flight School
Luckily, they taught "bail out" on day one.
If you look closely, you might notice something strange about the direction this plane is flying. Skilled aeronauts should be able to pick it out fairly easily.
Apparently, a farmer was in the process of snapping a photograph of his buddy riding a tractor in 1962 when, by a billion-to-one chance, he accidentally took an interesting photo instead. That's test pilot George Aird ejecting from his fighter jet as it was cruising a little too vertically for his comfort.
Aird survived, but not without injury -- rather than landing on the pillow-like soft grass of the farmer's field, he crashed Wile E. Coyote style through the roof of a nearby greenhouse and sustained several fractures. Here's a picture of the crash site from above -- check out the second greenhouse from the left. That's where Aird landed. The big smear in the field is obviously the wreckage of his plane.
The smear he left on the plane's seat is something else.