THE BLOG

Visit Wendover Airfield, the real 'Lerner Field' From Con-Air

08/05/2014 01:22 pm ET | Updated Oct 06, 2014

When you put Nicolas Cage on a plane hijacked by prisoners, you’ve got a sure-fire recipe for cinematic gold. Cage’s fake southern accent and awesome one-liners make Con-Air Cage-tastic, but it’s the over-the-top battle in the desert at Lerner Airfield that really makes it his best performance. Did you know Lerner Airfield is a real place? Yeah it is, and we went there to root out the cons flying on the “Jailbird,” ourselves at the real “Lerner Airfield,” Historic Wendover Airfield.

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Roadtrippers made the special stop at Wendover Airfield as part of a 5,000+ mile road trip sponsored by MINI Cooper called MINI Takes the States. When we rolled in with 1,000 other MINI Cooper lovers and spied the movie prop, the “Jailbird,” we knew were on hallowed Nicolas Cage ground.

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The prop plane is the highlight of a visit to Historic Wendover Airfield, but there are plenty of other buildings you’ll recognize from the movie.

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You might even recognize Wendover Air Field from a slew of other movies like Independence Day, where it served as the exterior of Area 51, you know… where Randy Quaid and the President, we mean, Bill Pullman, suited up to save the world.

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The truth is Wendover Airfield DID help save the world in real life. The airfield was a critical training spot for bomber groups during WWII. Wendover Airfield sums it up nicely:

All told, there were 21 bomber groups and over 1,000 aircrews that completed training at Wendover airfield, enough to outfit the entire Eighth Air Force, but not all went to that organization. The crews participated in the strategic bombing of Germany, flew in support of D-Day, and conducted combat operations around the world. Three of the groups had Medal of Honor recipients.

Wendover Airfield’s most well-known contribution to the war effort, however, was its testing of inert “Fat Man” and “Little Boy” test bombs from B-29s to provide valuable ballistic and flight data for the eventual nuclear bombs dropped on Japan.

Post-war, the airfield continued to function for several years, playing an important role in weapons development:

The first were power driven bombs, from the American version of the V-1 rocket (the JB-2) to "Weary Willies", old B-17 equipped to fly remotely. The second group were bombs equipped with wings and stabilizers. These marked the first development of glide bombs and could be controlled by radar or radio. The third consisted of bombs that could be controlled by the launching plane.

Today the airfield is available for group tours including the hangar that once housed the Enola Gay. Our MINI Takes the States event in that very hangar is a perfect example of how large groups can use the airfield for parties and special events.

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In addition to tours and special event arrangements, Wendover Airfield frequently offers opportunities for flights on vintage aircraft. For more information on visiting Wendover Airfield or booking a flight, visit their website.

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If you’re planning a trip through Wendover, we suggest coordinating the dates with the annual air show held each fall. The air show features WWII planes, military vehicles, WWII re-enactors, classic cars, motorcycles, and more. You can even camp at the airfield in your RV.

With both history and pop culture at every turn, Historic Wendover Airfield is a perfect place for a quick visit or big group event.

Ok, ok, one last thing…We have to ask: What’s your favorite Con-Air Nicolas Cage quote?

-Austin Coop
@Coop1930