A Girl’s Guide to Missiles: Growing Up in America’s Secret Desert by Karen Piper


Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥

This is the story about the author’s life – having grew up at China Lake – a missile range that was located in Mojave Desert.  I liked the story at first, but then I feel like she went off the path to unrelated stories that had nothing to do with her life when she lived on the base.  I think the title and how the story starts out was great, but then she lost me.  The story of when she did live at China Like, that was a very interesting story, so I would still recommend it to other readers!

Both of Karen’s parents worked at different jobs while living at China Lake and eventually her and her sister worked there as well.  Her dad designed the Sidewinder, which was ultimately used catastrophically in Vietnam. When her mom got tired of being a stay-at-home mom, she went to work on the Tomahawk. Once, when a missile nose needed to be taken offsite for final testing, her mother loaded it into the trunk of the family car, and set off down a Los Angeles freeway. Traffic was heavy, and so she stopped off at the mall, leaving the missile in the parking lot.

The author lived through several major events in history including JFK’s assignation, whom he actually visited the base shortly before the tragic event that took his life. Along with fears of a Lemurian takeover and Charles Manson.  The little story of JFK’s visit to the base was interesting in itself – they took him to the area where they test missiles and one particular one they were working on which included a camera on the end of the missile.  The base sent the missile toward the president and he saw his own face on the camera – the missile would, as they hoped turn at a particular moment – which it did, but it was also a ‘test’ of this new equipment and could of easily failed.

Available on Amazon – A Girl’s Guide to Missiles: Growing Up in America’s Secret Desert by Karen Piper