Historic Wendover Airfield
This page presents our personal notes on our visit to the Historic Wendover Airfield in Utah.
Saturday, August 27, 2011
We drove from Sandy to East Wendover and arrived at the Airfield just before the 10:00 a.m. guided tour was to begin. There were about 20 of us in this first group to take the official tour of the historic base. They were using us as test subjects to see what works and what doesn't, what sites around the base are interesting to a tour group, and which are not. The $20.00 per person fee included the tour and a box lunch.
They gathered us in front of the Operations Center, gave us some general information about the tour and the facility, then loaded us onto vintage vehicles to begin the tour. We rode on the open back of a World War II personal carrier, while others rode in an old open jeep, and yet others, with less inclination to ride in the wind and sun, rode in a small air conditioned bus. We all got to the various locations just fine.
On this particular day there was a lot of activity at the airfield. A marine troop was practicing parachuting, so we got to see them loading up on their old prop job transport, got to see them take off and climb high up to altitude, then got to watch them all come floating down to their targets. It seemed that the whole time we were there (several hours) there were parachutes in the sky.
There was also a small vintage jet fighter that was practicing touch and goes on the main runway. It was interesting and exciting to watch him blast off, turn out in the distance, and then circle the base to come in for a landing, over and over. At various points on the tour we were pretty close to the runway as he came in. And finally, in the late morning, he came in for one final landing and taxied close to where we were inspecting an old bomb loading facility.
And, early on, as we rode out to see the storage bunkers, we passed a group who were out target practicing with high powered rifles. It was amazing at how far away their targets were from where they were set up with their tripods and long rifles.
We visited just about every location noted as Within the Airfield on our Landmarks page. At some locations they kept us a bit long, while at other locations I wish we could have stayed a bit longer and had more time to explore. But, in general, they did give us a good tour and we saw enough to get a good idea as to what went on here during the war.
Our volunteer guides were obviously enthusiastic about their chance to act as tour guides, but it was obvious that they still needed to work on their presentations. The casual question and answer portions at each stop were actually more informative than the more formal descriptions. However, I'm sure as they get into the routine and get more experience they'll get it all down and things will go more smoothly.
The lunch was simple submarine sandwiches from a local fast food deli chain, with chips and plenty of cold drinks. In fact, they took coolers along on the entire tour, so there was always something cold to drink when out in the hot sun.
I haven't heard if they have begun regular tours yet, but if the chance arises to participate, and if you are a history buff or just enjoy exploring historic buildings and ghost towns and want to see the way things were "back then," then tag along. It's worth the few bucks and will give you something to think about on your drive back to the city.
We visited the Historic Wendover Airfield as a side trip while staying in Wendover for a concert. The Airfield doesn't have much to offer at this time, but if you are into aviation history, it is worth at least a few minutes to drive down to the airfield and view the historic markers, climb around inside of an old transport plane, climb the steps of the control tower to get a panoramic view of the runways and surrounding area, and explore the exhibits within the small museum. There is also a short video that describes the history of the location. All very interesting.
There is a movement to gather in the funds necessary to restore much of the old airfield, and some work is near completion on some of the hangars. Over time the scope of the location will expand and a visit will be even more rewarding.