An inactive and rusted rocket that once could have carried a nuclear warhead was found in the cluttered garage of a Washington homeowner who recently died.
The discovery of the military-grade rocket sparked an urgent visit last Thursday from a local police bomb squad — which quickly determined the remnants of the missile were inert and not a danger to the surrounding area.
A neighbor of the late homeowner told cops the deceased man initially bought the defunct equipment at an estate sale, Bellevue police said in a news release.
The police were alerted about the rocket when the National Museum of the US Air Force in Ohio contacted them last Wednesday after the neighbor offered to donate it, cops said.
The police officials determined the hunk of metal was a Douglas AIR-2 Genie, which is an unguided air-to-air rocket that is meant to carry a 1.5 kiloton W25 warhead dating back to the Cold War.
“Bomb squad members confirmed that the object was inert and contained no rocket fuel – essentially meaning that the item was an artifact with no explosive hazard,” Bellevue police said.
Because the missile was no longer usable and the military had no interest in taking possession of it, the historical piece was left with the neighbor who has plans for it to be restored for display at a museum, authorities said.
The Douglas AIR-2 Genie was first tested in 1956 and went into service at the start of the following year, according to the Air Force museum.
In July 1957, a Genie was fired from 18,000 feet from a fighter jet and detonated over Yucca Flats in Nevada — the first and only test of its kind by the US.
The rare relic shocked the local police department in Bellevue — a West Coast city of about 150,000 people — so much so that they decided to share a pic of the bizarre find on social media.
“And we think it’s gonna be a long, long time before we get another call like this again,” the department tweeted in a nod to Elton John’s hit single “Rocket Man.”