Confederate Air Force Pad #1
This is a retired US Air Force Titan 1 intercontinental ballistic missile on display adjacent to Interstate highway I-75 in Cordele, Georgia. This example is serial number SM-49, tail number 60-3694, built in 1960 and retired after only a few years in service.
A total of 163 Titan 1 missiles were built. 70 were launched, with 53 of those launches being successful. These missiles were operational from 1961 to 1965, and unlike their larger brothers, the Titan II, the original Titan 1 missiles were not reused as space launch boosters. As a result, 33 missiles were saved for museums and displays, of which, about two dozen still survive today.
After Interstate highway I-75 opened, the city of Cordele wanted to develop an attraction that would pull people off of the highway and into town. The local Rotary Club president, John Pate, had a dream of acquiring and displaying an ICBM. He was able to convince the USAF to donate the missile to the city. It was removed from service in California, flown to Warner Robins Air Force Base near Macon, then trucked down I-75 to Cordele. The missile was erected in 1968 and was christened on July 17, 1969.
The display site was donated by a local business. Since that time, a Gas and Go station was built south of the missile and a Krystal restaurant was built on the north side. The missile site itself fell into disrepair, yet it remained a popular attraction. The gas station clerk reports that as many as 50 people a day stop and take photos of the missile. The site was spruced up and maintenance on the missile was performed in 2008. Some parts were stolen off of the missile over the years. The local tourism committee is working to obtain replacements to visually restore the missile.
The sign in front of the missile states that this is the Confederate Air Force Pad #1. There is a group that preserves retired military aircraft called the Commemorative Air Force that was known as the Confederate Air Force from the 1960s to the 1980s. The group started informally and used the name as an inside joke. However, the CAF became a serious organization that operates a large fleet of World War II aircraft. However, there doesn't seem to be any connection between the CAF and this missile display. As a result, it appears that the Confederate Air Force moniker is local reference to Georgia's role in the Civil War. At any rate, this is certainly the only Krystal outlet in the world that is protected by its very own nuclear missile.
Authored by John A. Weeks III, Copyright © 1996—2016, all rights reserved.
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