What caused the nuclear disaster that could have obliterated large sections of Central Arkansas? On the evening of Sept. 18, 1980, Airmen David F. Powell and Jeffrey L. Plumb were performing routine maintenance at the Titan II silo in Damascus, Arkansas. At the age of 21, Powell was considered a highly experienced missile technician; Plumb, who had just turned 19, was still in training. As the two stood on a platform near the top of the Titan II, a socket fell from Powell’s wrench, plummeted 70 feet and, shockingly, punctured the missile. A stream of highly explosive rocket fuel began pouring into the silo.
Nothing like this had ever happened to a Titan II before, and the Air Force had no procedures in place to deal with the event. For the next eight hours, the leadership of the Strategic Air Command (SAC) frantically struggled to figure out how to prevent a massive explosion and retain control of the thermonuclear warhead – a weapon so powerful that it could destroy much of Arkansas and deposit lethal radioactive fallout across the East Coast.
Woven through the Damascus story is a riveting history of America’s nuclear weapons program, from World War II through the Cold War, much of it based on recently declassified documents. A cautionary tale filmed in an abandoned Titan II missile silo in Arizona, “Command and Control” forces viewers to confront the great dilemma that the U.S. has faced since the dawn of the nuclear age: How do we manage weapons of mass destruction without being destroyed by them?
Friday, Oct. 7, 2016
Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival Opening Night Film Ticket Required
Saturday, Oct. 8, 2016
South Side Bee Branch Fine Arts Center, 6 p.m. 334 South Side Rd., Bee Branch Free and open to the public
Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016
In partnership with the Clinton School of Public Service Ron Robinson Theater, 5 p.m. 100 River Market Ave., Little Rock Free and open to the public RSVP required: please contact The Clinton School of Public Service at email@example.com or (501) 683-5239. “Command and Control.” “ premiering on AETN in early 2017 “Barnes and … A Conversation With Eric Schlosser” *Tickets are required for entrance to the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival screening. All other screenings are free and open to the public.