Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Titan Missile Museum

We started early today since we had a lot to do on our schedule.  Gerry was invited to her friend Katy's house for lunch along with Katy's daughter and granddaughter.  Since it was most likely to be a hen fest, Grant and I decided to skip the lunch and just show up for dessert.  Cake with chocolate icing does that to guys.

First we dropped Gerry off and Grant and I went to a Taco Bell just down the road from the Titan Missile Museum.  Properly fortified with nourishment we went to the museum and arrived a little before 1pm and caught that tour.  I've been on the tour a couple times and each time learn something new.  This was the first time for Grant and to say he was excited would be an understatement.  He was first out the door and first down the stairs to the control center. 

They have a dummy nuclear warhead in the gift shop at the museum and Grant standing next to it gives you an idea of the size of an actual warhead.  It had 650 times the power of the bombs dropped on Japan during WWII.  Hard to believe all the power could come in something that size.

 The missile was located under the concrete doors just above and behind Grant's head in the below picure.  The Titan II missile was 103 ft long and 10 ft wide at it's widest point.

 There were 54 silos located in groups of 18 in the Tucson, Wichita and Arkansas locations.  The site we toured is the only one left that has all the original equipment left in place.  All the other sites had the equipment removed and the silo filled in with dirt and then concrete.  That came about as a result of the nuclear proliferation treaty signed between the US and Russia.

The tour guide had served in a site for 4 years and really knew his stuff.  He explained how it all worked and the safeguards to keep one person from firing the missile.  The control center was located underground and had 4ft concrete walls with rebar in it.  The doors to the underground area were 6,000lbs each and made of steel with 4 huge pins holding them in place.

 A young lady was selected to help with the demo much to Grant's dismay.  He wanted to fire the missile, but did get a chance to sit at the council after that part of the tour was over.

 The next part of the tour took us to the missile silo where another guide explained how it all worked.  They had plexiglass windows so you could see the top part of the missile with a fake warhead on it.

The photo below was taken from the top of the silo and sure does look menacing.  They leave the top doors open so the Russians can verify nothing is going on at the silo.

The photo below shows all the workings of the silo including the door above.  They had a huge water tank that was emptied into the silo when the missile was fired.

Since everything was underground and it took a 4 step identification system to get in the control area, they installed a radar surveillance system on each corner of the launch area.  One such corner is shown below in this picture.  In the background are tailings from a copper mine nearby the site.

After the tour was over Grant and I went back to pick up Gerry and get our dessert from Katy and crew.  It was delicious and really hit the spot.  We visited with them for a while and finally had to hit the road.

By this time it was getting late and we stopped at Costco for a few things and then on to a local Mexican restaurant.  As usual, they serve you more food than you can comfortably eat.  We waddled out of there and made it back to the motorhome and collapsed.  It was an early to bed night for us to catch up on some much needed sleep.

That was our day, how was yours?

1 comment:

  1. We did the tour last Fall and I loved it. It was fun to read your post and remember our time there. I missed the part about the doors being left open so the Russians would know nothing was going on.