The Open Gate
A B-57 crew faced the end of the world.
- By Edwards Park
- Air & Space magazine, January 1994
(Page 3 of 5)
“What the hell do you mean, ‘Don’t start’?”
“I mean don’t start up. Not yet. This one’s real. We can’t waste fuel. We’re on our way.”
Mugavero stared at him. “You’re kidding. Right?”
“I’m not kidding. We’re on our way tonight. But don’t start up until that truck moves.”
Mugavero stared into the night and saw the impossible: the gate was open. An Air Force blue pickup truck had driven up and parked inside the gate. Its engine was plugged into an electrical heater to keep it from freezing and the driver stayed inside. “When he moves it, we take off for our target,” said Clark, settling into his seat. “No one will tell us. We’ve got radio silence.”
“What’s happened?” Mugavero wondered aloud.
“I have no idea.”
The two men sat silently, trying to keep warm in their winter flightsuits. As the hours passed they watched the sun brighten the sky. It might well be the last sunrise they’d see. Mugavero thought of his wife, who was probably just now waking. Soon she would be getting the kids up, starting breakfast, and planning a trip to the commissary. Thinking about it now, he searches for words: “The world was going on as usual right then, and there I was, waiting to end it.”