Defense: The Big Bird Sanctuary

The "PMR" is a wasteland of sand and water. It covers more than 50 million square miles and extends almost halfway around the earth. Its inhabitants hunt goats in fern-forested Kauai. and missile nose cones in the sleepy lagoon of Eniwetok. It is the habitat of strange "birds" with peculiar names—Samos, Discoverer. Midas, Nike-Zeus—whose flights are scratched across the sky in weird contrails and tracked by missile-watching machines on a California mud flat and in such far-flung outposts as Alaska, Hawaii, Kwajalein and Christmas Island. The PMR—for Pacific Missile Range—is the...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!