Earth Bound Misfit posted a couple of pics today, so I thought I would see if I could match them up to their locations on a map. Google Maps has a placemark for Lakehurst Naval Air Engineering Station, but it is outside of the gray area that indicates the adjacent military base, so I went to Wikimapia to see if I could get any more information. Turns out Lakehurst NAS is just one part of the entire complex. So I'm poking around with my mouse, just to see if I turn up anything interesting, and this pops up:
Site of Bomarc Missile accident
June 7, 1960 /BOMARC/ McGuire AFB, New Jersey:
A BOMARC nuclear air defense missile in ready storage condition (permitting launch in two minutes) was destroyed by explosion and fire after a high-pressure helium tank exploded and ruptured the missile's fuel tanks. The warhead was also destroyed by the fire although the high explosive did not detonate. Nuclear safety devices acted as designed. Contamination was restricted to an area immediately beneath the weapon and an adjacent elongated area approximately 100 feet long, caused by drainoff of firefighting water.
Courtesy of GlobalSecurity.org
Link to Wikimapia.org
Then there's the bit about the "high-pressure helium tank". Why would you even have such a thing? What possible use could there be? Are we blowing up balloons for the kiddies during show and tell? A little more digging turns up this on Tails Through Time:
The booster rocket of the missile used hypergolic fuels- red fuming nitric acid as an oxidant and aniline fuel that would spontaneously ignite when mixed. The fuels were stored on the missile for 90 days at a time. When a launch order was received, a helium tank on the missile would be pressurized to provide propellant tank pressurization for the booster rocket. It would take 15 seconds to pressurize the tank, during which time the Bomarc was raised to the vertical position for launch. At the end of each 90 day period, the missile would have to be defueled, decontaminated and then refueled. Pressurized helium would be used to empty the tanks to defuel them as well as in the refueling procedure.Hypergolic just means that the fuel and oxidizer spontaneously combust when they are combined. Using the word and then explaining it is redundant, and annoying when you don't connect the two. "Red fuming nitric acid"? Regular old nitric acid isn't good enough, you need not just fuming acid, but red fuming acid? And what's this aniline fuel? This one isn't nearly so nasty, but it's still not what you would call pleasant.