Entries in Doomsday (4)


'Doomsday Plane' Can Survive Nuclear Attack

U.S. Air Force(OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb.) -- In the event of nuclear war, a powerful meteor strike or even a zombie apocalypse, the thoroughly protected doomsday plane is ready to keep the president, secretary of defense, joint chiefs of staff and other key personnel in the air and out of danger.

It may not deflect a Twitter photo scandal, but it can outrun a nuclear explosion and stay in the air for days without refueling.

The flight team for the E-4B, its military codename, sleeps nearby and is ready to scramble in five minutes.  It was mobilized in the tumultuous hours after planes crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and southern Pennsylvania on 9/11/2001.

"If the command centers that are on the ground in the United States have a failure of some sort, or attack, we immediately get airborne.  We're on alert 24/7, 365," Captain W. Scott "Easy" Ryder, Commander, NAOC, told ABC News' Diane Sawyer as she traveled to Afghanistan with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates on the apocalypse-proof plane.  "Constantly there's at least one alert airplane waiting to get airborne."

All E-4B aircraft are assigned to the 55th Wing, Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska.  The modified 747s can travel at speeds up to 620 miles per hour, 40 miles per hour faster than their commercial counterparts.

The $223 million aircraft is outfitted with an electromagnetic pulse shield to protect its 165,000 pounds of advanced electronics.  Thermo-radiation shields also protect the plane in the event of a nuclear strike.

A highly-trained security team travels with the plane.

"The first people off of the airplane are these guys, they'll position themselves appropriately around the airplane," Ryder said to ABC News.  "The secretary also has his own small security staff that does similar things.  So these guys are predominately designed to protect our airplane, and the secretary's staff protects him, as an individual."

Even though it carries VIPs, their staff and security personnel, the plane is highly fuel efficient. It can stay in-flight for days without refueling, a necessity if circumstances demanded the plane's use by the nation's top officials.

A precision tech team mans the sensitive onboard electronic technology -- so much of it that a specially upgraded air-conditioning system is necessary to keep it cool and functional.

It can even communicate with submerged submarines by dropping a five-mile-long cable out the back of the plane.  "[We] drop it down and [it] transmits coded message traffic to U.S. submarines," Ryder told ABC News.

Although the extreme amount of survival technology on the plane more than makes up for it, the plane lacks the amenities found in bases on the ground.  The secretary of defense, for example, only gets a tiny bathroom with a sink, but no shower.  A small trade-off for being able to board this plane as the rest of us dive for cover in a worst-case scenario.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Preacher Says Rapture Prediction Was Wrong but It's Still Coming

EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images(OAKLAND, Calif.) -- Harold Camping, the radio evangelist who predicted the apocalypse would begin Saturday, May 21, said on Monday that his understanding of God's plan was just a little off.

Speaking to reporters outside his Family Radio International office near the Oakland, California airport, Camping said his prediction that the Biblical Rapture would occur Saturday might have been wrong, but he stands by his prophecy that the world will come to an end as forecast on Oct. 21.

God did "bring judgment on the world" on Saturday, Camping said, but there will not be any terrible buildup to the end.  When it comes, it will happen quickly, he said.

"We have to be looking at all of this a little bit more spiritual, but it won't be spiritual on Oct. 21," he said.  "Because the Bible clearly teaches that then the world is going to be destroyed altogether."

His radio station will no longer preach about the end of the world, he said, because God's judgment has already come.

The 89-year-old retired civil engineer had pinpointed May 21 at 5:59 p.m. as the exact time the Rapture would occur, when those chosen by God would ascend to Heaven, while sinners suffered through five months of disasters until the Earth was consumed in a fireball on the End of Days, according to the Christian Bible.

On Sunday, after the Rapture failed to occur Saturday as he had predicted, Camping was "mystified" and "a little bewildered," an associate of the California preacher told ABC News.

Tom Evans, a board member of Family Radio International, said on Sunday that Camping's wife told him her husband was at their home and had no intention to speak or issue any statement for at least two days.

However, the evangelist did speak on Monday, saying he had been disappointed by the apparent failure of his prophecy, so he and his wife had gone to a hotel room so that he could sort out what had happened without distraction.

"When May 21 came and went, it was a very difficult time for me, a very difficult time," he said.  "I really, really was praying and praying and praying, 'Oh Lord, what happened?'"

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Doomsday Prophet 'Bewildered' by Failure of Rapture

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Harold Camping is "mystified" and "a little bewildered" that the Rapture did not go as he predicted, an associate of the California preacher told ABC News.

Tom Evans, a board member of Camping's Family Radio International, said that Camping's wife told him her husband is at their home in Oakland and has no intention to speak or issue any statement on Sunday or Monday.

Camping's wife described him as being "somewhat bewildered" and "mystified" that events did not unfold on May 21 as Camping had predicted, Evans said.

Evans said his personal position is that the public is owed an apology and he wants the board -- and Camping -- to meet on Tuesday to figure out what to say and do next.

Camping, 89, had pinpointed May 21, at 5:59 p.m. as the exact time the Rapture would occur, when those chosen by God would ascend to heaven while cataclysmic earthquakes would begin to rock earth.  He spread the word on billboards, posters, fliers and digital bus displays across the country.

Robert Fitzpatrick of New York had put his money where his faith is: The 60-year-old retiree spent $140,000 -- almost everything he had -- on hundreds of billboards proclaiming the Armagedon that Camping predicted.

When it didn't come, he was standing in New York's Times Square, surrounded by jeering tourists in a drizzling rain.

"I can't tell you what I feel right now," he said.  "Obviously, I haven't understood it correctly because we're still here."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


As May 21 Doomsday Looms, What's Behind Armageddon Appeal?

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- This Saturday in Times Square, amidst bewildered tourists and hot dog vendors, Robert Fitzpatrick will be waiting for the world to end.

The 60-year-old MTA retiree from Staten Island joins the hordes who follow the Biblical calculation of Family Radio preacher Harold Camping.  Camping predicts that the end of days is near -- in fact, it's May 21, at about 5:59 p.m. ET.

"Judgment day will begin very shortly before midnight Jerusalem standard time.  I think it's going to be instantaneous.  Everything will be destroyed and God is going to create a new heaven and a new earth," says Fitzpatrick, who spent his $140,000 life savings to have 3,000 posters put up in New York City's subway and bus system, warning of this impending End of Days.

Though many are chalking up this May 21 hysteria to religious zeal, leaders among mainstream Christian denominations have largely condemned date-setting, citing Bible verses that say no man can know the time of The Rapture.

Why are Fitzpatrick and those on Family Radio's recent proselytizing tour convinced that the end is upon us, despite centuries of failed predictions?

That's hard to answer, but psychologists and religious scholars say it derives from a number of very human urges: from the fear of death to the desire for justice to the fatalistic despair that this world is too broken to ever be fixed.

Although there's no way to gauge how many people actually think the world will end with a bang (or a whimper) on Saturday, doomsday is big in the U.S.

"Thirty to forty percent of Americans report believing that the end times are coming eventually, so while most reject the teachings of Camping, there is a strong strain of this kind of thinking in this country," says Christian Lane, author of The Age of Doubt: Tracing the Roots of Our Religious Uncertainty.

So for some, anxiety spurred by the recent natural and economic disasters makes apocalyptic thinking more appealing, he says.

"It becomes easier to convince people that things are getting worse and that the answer will come through divine dispensation, rather than have them face the fact that humanity must fix its own problems."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio