Con Air (1997)

At Wendover Airfield, located near the border of Nevada and Utah you’ll find one of the planes used in the Nicolas Cage action film “Con Air.”  The plane isn’t the only attraction to be seen, however, as the area was also used as one of the major locations of the film.

First, we’ll cover the plane.  There were actually several planes used during filming.  The plane used during flight scenes has a rather tragic history.  After being sold to a variety of owners, both military and private, in 2010 the plane crashed into Mt Healy, Alaska, killing three flight crew on board.  However, the Jailbird plane used for filming taxi scenes fared much better and now sits on display at Wendover Airfield and it’s completely free to see.  It can be found near the parking lot and while it is surrounded by fencing, during daytime business hours at the nearby museums, the plane is accessible for free to the public.  Here are several different views of the plane.

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LOCATION: 345 Airport Way, Wendover, UT 84083

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Here is a view inside the plane.  The interiors seen in the film were actually a set built at Sunset Las Palmas Studios (1040 N Las Palmas Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038).  Nevertheless, we’ve included a few shots inside the plane at Wendover.

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Here is a view of the cockpit, facing out towards the airfield.

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Wendover Airfield is still an operational airport, which has a long history dating back to World War II.  Bomber groups trained here during the war, which included three Medal of Honor recipients.  There’s a museum documenting the history of the airfield, which attracts a lot of tourism.  However, our focus is of course on the filming history.

Wendover Airfield has often been used in films, dating back to 1982’s “The Philadelphia Experiment.”  “Independence Day,” “Mullholland Falls,” The Core” and Ang Lee’s 2003 version of “The Hulk” all filmed at the airfield as well.  The scenic vistas have also been filmed as plates and stock footage in untold numbers of productions.  However, arguably the film most widely associated with the airfield is “Con Air.”

The bad news is that all of the filming locations are located away from the main roads, out on the airfield.  The good news is, for a fee, you can arrange a personal escort out to the filming locations.  Simply look up the Historic Wendover Airfield and reach out to management to arrange a tour.  Do not book one of the regular museum tours, as that is a separate attraction and they typically do not venture out to the filming locations.  Instead, contact management and tell them exactly what you’re wanting to see and when.  They are very friendly and accommodating.

Now we’ll take a look at which scenes filmed at the airfield.  Midway through the film, the plane makes a stop at the fictional “Lerner Airfield” for a rendezvous, where the criminals are supposed to change planes and escape the country.  When they arrive however, the other plane does not appear to be there, leaving them waiting at the airfield for an extended portion of the film.

The filming area is surrounded by this barbed-wire fencing.  In the movie, Steve Buscemi plays a Hannibal Lector like killer named Garland Greene.  Garland roams off from the others out past the fencing.  Due to the fact the fence runs the entire perimeter, it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact spot of the shot, but here is a general view of the fencing.

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Garland spots a little girl at a nearby trailer park having tea time in this empty pool.  He comes over and joins her.

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This is the airstrip where the plane takes off again, dragging a car in tow.

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This tower was featured prominently in the film, including when Johnny-23, played by Danny Trejo, warns the others they’ve got company.  It’s also where the car crashes into the tower and detaches from the plane.  There is a similar looking tower visible from the road near the entrance of Wendover Airfield.  That is not the one seen in the film.  The filmmakers saw the real tower and had a replica built specifically for the film, which is seen below.  It is not visible from the main road.

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Vince Larkin, played by John Cusack, stands beside the inept Duncan Malloy near these buildings, as they watch Malloy’s car crash back down to the ground.

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Near the end of the film, an action sequence takes place at in a tunnel supposedly located in Las Vegas, as Poe pursues Cyrus The Virus, played by John Malkovich, on a fire truck.  This was actually filmed in the Second Street Tunnel in Downtown Los Angeles.  The tunnel is a popular filming location, appearing in such films as “Kill Bill,” “Blade Runner,” “Independence Day” and many more.

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LOCATION: 620 W 2nd St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

If you’re a filming location fan, we highly encourage a visit to Wendover Airfield.  Just be sure to plan a bit in advance with management to confirm you can get an escort out to the locations.  It’s well worth the time and expense if you can make the trip.

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