Troy's Excellent Adventure: Titan Missile Museum

Troy's Excellent Adventure: Titan Missile Museum

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GREEN VALLEY, Ariz. -

If you are a certain age, you probably remember living under the threat of a nuclear war -- fallout shelters, duck and cover drills. Those things were reality, and they were pretty scary.

It's not something we think about that often anymore, but Arizona was a kind of ground zero for the cold war.

We were home to some of the most terrible weapons ever built.

In one of his excellent adventures, FOX 10's Troy Hayden showed us one of those weapons.

Doing this story was like climbing into a time machine and going back to a frightening time -- a time when the U.S. and the Soviet Union threatened to wipe each other off the map.

I went down into a missile silo that is perfectly preserved, and the doomsday weapon is still inside.

Not all that long ago, this was one of the most secret places in the world. Going down these steps would get you shot on sight.

It is the home of one of the most powerful weapons ever built in the history of man -- a 103 foot tall Titan Intercontinental Ballistic Missile.

It could rocket 800 miles into space, traveling 5 times the speed of a rifle bullet, and then hit and annihilate just about any city in the former Soviet Union with a 9 megaton nuclear bomb.

A 9 megaton bomb is sufficient to destroy a land area of 900 square miles.

To put that in perspective, a Titan warhead that hit downtown Phoenix would leave a crater a half mile wide and destroy everything in the valley from Litchfield Park to Apache Junction, from Ahwatukee to north Scottsdale. Scary stuff.

Going down into the missile's control room, with an actual doomsday clock and buttons and switches that could start Armageddon, is like taking a trip back to the height of the cold war.

The underground silo is almost perfectly preserved. Now a national historic landmark, it's called the Titan Missile Museum, just outside Tucson.

This is the only former Titan Missile Silo in the world open to the public. Tours are given here every day. But we went beyond the tour.

Museum historian Chuck Penson took us through the actual procedure to launch the Titan.

Thankfully, this never happened for real, but just being in this place, around this equipment designed to withstand a nuclear attack and still fire, is an eerie reminder of just how close mankind came to wiping itself off the face of the earth.

The Titan Missile Museum is in Green Valley, about 15 minutes south of Tucson.

The basic tour is only $9.50. It really does transport you back to the Cold War.

Online: www.titanmissilemuseum.org

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