The Doomsday Blueprints

How times change. Though the Soviet Union is gone, Washington was once convinced that World War III could break out without warning. Children practiced hiding under desks, parents built bomb shelters, and in case of nuclear attack the U.S. government hoped to save the President and keep the country running by relying on . . . THE DOOMSDAY BLUEPRINTS

The project was known simply as the Outpost Mission -- one of the cold war's most closely guarded secrets. Beginning in the mid-1950s, an elite unit of helicopter pilots and crew, the 2857th Test Squadron, was stationed at Olmsted Air Force Base in Pennsylvania posing as a rescue team for military and civilians in distress. Their real mission, so sensitive that only the pilots and base commander knew, was to rescue President Dwight D. Eisenhower -- and, later, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon -- in the event of a nuclear attack. Posted outside the blast range of an...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

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