Major Hank McCutcheon's B-29 was one of three bombers carrying atomic bombs to hit the city. They were accompanied by other B-29s carrying high-explosive bombs and who would serve as decoys. The bombers flew low, as close to the taiga or pine forests as they could. While en-route, Bill Staley saw flashes of blinding light that told him other bombers had hit Khabarovsk with atomic bombs. This alerted the Soviet defenders who found and shot down McCutcheon's aircraft before it could drop its bomb.