In a bizarre twist reminiscent of Elton John’s Rocket Man, police in Bellevue, Washington, were summoned to investigate an unexpected discovery: a decades-old, rusted rocket stored in a local man’s garage. The peculiar call originated from the National Museum of the US Air Force in Ohio, reporting an unusual donation offer.
Upon inspection, Bellevue police determined that the neglected rocket was, in fact, a Douglas AIR-2 Genie, an unguided air-to-air rocket designed to carry a 1.5 kt W25 nuclear warhead. Fortunately, the warhead was missing, ensuring no immediate threat to the community. Bellevue Police Department spokesperson Seth Tyler downplayed the situation, describing the device as “just basically a gas tank for rocket fuel,” emphasising that it posed no serious risk.
The unexpected donor, who preferred to remain anonymous, expressed frustration with the media coverage and was apparently caught off guard by the museum’s decision to involve law enforcement. The rocket, initially owned by a deceased neighbour and purchased at an estate sale, was handed over to the police voluntarily. Despite the rocket’s Cold War-era history, officials ruled out the presence of a nuclear warhead, sparing the city’s 150,000 residents from any evacuation measures.
Remarkably, the relic’s connection to historical tensions between the US and Canada during the Cold War came to light. The Genie rocket, with its last live firing recorded in 1957 and production ceasing in 1962, now serves as an artefact with no explosive hazard. With no military interest in reclaiming the item, police opted to leave it with the donor, who plans to restore and display the rocket in a museum.
This unusual episode leaves the community with a peculiar tale from the past, unravelling the mysteries of a bygone era’s technological remnants.