Like the garish and cheeky illustrations etched across the noses of World War II aircraft, these images in launch control centers across the United States testify to the bravado of the men (and, from the mid-1980s onward, women) of what has been called "America's Underground Air Force." But they also reflect the sometimes surreal pressures faced by two-person missile crews on 24-hour duty alerts, waiting for a call to turn their missile launch keys and perhaps end civilization as we know it. "You're sitting there waiting for the message you hope never comes," says Tony Gatlin, who painted the Domino's homage as a young deputy flight commander at Delta One in 1989. "That's a pretty screwed up way of looking at the world."Link (Thanks, William!)
Now an Air Force major and deputy director of staff with the 100th Air Refueling Wing, based at the Royal Air Force's Mildenhall Base, in England, Gatlin was struck by the similarity of Domino's delivery time and that of his missiles. "One went with the other kind of well," he deadpans. Gatlin's painting is one of only a few the public can see, following the transformation in 1999 of the Delta One control facility and the nearby Delta Nine missile silo into an historic site by the National Park Service (NPS). Under the terms of the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty between the then-Soviet Union and the United States, many Minuteman missile sites have been deactivated or destroyed.