Did you ever wonder how the United States is protected from possible incoming nuclear missiles? Are you interested in the Medal of Honor, America’s highest military honor? Would you like to see a variety of military aircraft, dating back decades? Would you like to view a variety of missiles, including nuclear missiles that were used to protect America? You can learn about all of these things and more at the Peterson Air and Space Museum in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
The Peterson Air and Space Museum seeks to maintain and portray the space and aviation history of the Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, and it is located within an 8.3 acre area. If you visit, you will be able to see 16 aircraft and 6 missiles. You can also learn about the North American Aerospace Command, which protects the United States against nuclear war, and learn about the Medal of Honor and past recipients.
The North American Aerospace Command (NORAD) provides aerospace warning for the United States and Canada and provides for the defense of the two countries from military threats, including nuclear threats, and protects air sovereignty for both countries. NORAD was founded May 12, 1958, as a joint command between the two countries. It was founded because of the growing belief that Soviet long range bombers armed with nuclear weapons might pose a threat to the Arctic area of the country. Other means were already available to detect an attack from other areas. In the early 1960’s a worldwide space surveillance and missile warning system was built, so that any attack because of the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) threat would be detected.
Work on the Missile Warning and Space Surveillance Exhibit at the Peterson Air and Space Museum began in June 2004. The exhibit contains such things as radar equipment from Beale Air Force Base in California, the VELA satellite, which shows an example of satellites which were built to monitor Soviet compliance with a 1963 nuclear treaty, various computers, and other items designed to protect the United States.
The Peterson Air and Space Museum also contains the Medal of Honor Park, which honors servicemen and women who have received the highest military honor an American citizen may receive. The medal is only given to those who have risked their lives for their country in manner above and beyond the call of duty. President Abraham Lincoln signed a bill in July 1862 to create the medal. More than 3,400 medals have been awarded to men and one woman, with 19 men receiving two medals. When the Air Force separated from the Army in 1947, Air Force members continued to receive the medal until 1965 when the Air Force created its own medal. The park contains an exhibit honoring Air Force Medal of Honor winners.
The Peterson Air and Space Museum contains the Avro CF-100 “Canuck,” the only Canadian designed and built jet fighter used in operational service, which was armed with machine guns and radar. Other planes displayed include the CF-101B S/N101044, the Convoir F-106-A, the McDonnell CF-101B “Voodoo,” the Lockheed F-94C “Starfire,” and a variety of other aircraft. The F-94C was involved in withdrawal operations during the Vietnam War.
A variety of missiles are displayed at the Peterson Air and Space Museum in Colorado Springs, Colorado, including the Bomrac, the Nike Hercules, the Genie, the Nike Ajax, the Hawk, and the 2.75 inch Mighty Mouse. The Bomrac was the only surface-to-air missile deployed by the Air Force. All other such missiles have always been under control of the army. The Nike Hercules was armed with nuclear capabilities, the only such surface-to-air missile so armed. The Genie was the first nuclear armed air-to-air missile in the history of the world. Development began in 1955. The Nike Ajax was the first surface-to-air guided missile system in the history of the world.
The aircraft and missiles are displayed outside. The museum has a variety of indoor exhibits. The terminal building displays uniforms, exhibits, models, and other items from the 1940’s. There are exhibits relating to prisoners of war during World War II, the home front during the same war, and many types of aircraft. The City Hangar contains the Air Defense exhibit with history posters, models of the Iceland radar site, an image of Bubble Check, and a variety of other items. There is also an ICMB display and a variety of other items.
Admission to the Peterson Air and Space Museum is free. The museum is open on Tuesdays to Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Because the base is a restricted military facility, those desiring to visit who do not have a military or Department of Defense identification, or are not visiting with those who do, must contact the museum in advance to arrange the visit at 719-556-4915 or 556-8314. Even if a person does have military identification, he still should contact the museum before a visit to be certain visiting hours have not changed. Those without a military identification will need to give the names of adults 17 and older who will be visiting, driver’s license numbers for each, and the state of issue, passport information and country of issue for foreign visitors, and the last six digits of each visitor’s Social Security number. A background check will be done before the visit is allowed. Visitor information must be provided 24 hours before a visit, unless the visit will be on Saturday, and in that case the information must be provided 72 hours in advance.
Citations: Peterson Air & Space Museum Foundation , no author listed, Petemuseum.org
North American Aerospace Command, no author listed, en.wikipedia.org