Mrs. H. E. Wieselman had just crossed the Arizona-New Mexico line en route from California when she saw it. She remembered:And:We had just left Safford, and it was still dark. Suddenly the tops of high mountains by which we were passing were lighted up by a reddish, orange light.William Hartshorn was piloting one of the two B-29's that had been sent aloft from Kirtland Air Base to track the cloud. "We didn't know exactly what to expect," he recalled, "but we didn't have to be told that huge mushroom cloud boiling up was what we had been waiting for.
The surrounding countryside was illuminated like daylight for about three seconds.
Then it was dark again.
The experience scared me. It was just like the sun had come up and suddenly gone down again.
Yet perhaps the most powerful statement about the blast came from Georgia Green of Socorro. A University of New Mexico music student, she was being driven up to Albuquerque for her nine o'clock class by her brother-in-law. "What was that?" she asked. This might not be unusual except that Georgia Green was blind.
The two searchlight stations, L-7 and L-8, both on Highway 380 east of Bingham, also had to be evacuated. Based on Hubbard's twelve-hour weather forecast, which proved accurate, these portable units were set there to help track and illuminate the cloud. Since the shot occurred at dawn, there was little need for illumination, but the searchlights did provide brief azimuth and elevation data before the cloud became obscured by the other clouds in the sky. It was not long, however, before roving monitor Arthur Breslow urged the L-7 crew to depart. As Breslow drove east on Highway 380, he discovered, to his dismay, that he had left his respirator back at the L-7 position. Ahead of him lay a valley covered with a stratum of sandlike radioactive dust through which he had to drive. Closing the windows, he drove into it while breathing through a slice of bread. As the smoke pots had indicated, the radioactive cloud sank into the nearby valleys.