Saturday, August 09, 2008

Border Town

Wendover is situated not only in a pocket between two sorts of restricted airspace, but right up against the Nevada border. So while Wendover itself is a dusty Utah town with a Family Bargains store a dinosaur-themed gas station and a Days Inn, the main street continues unbroken across the border into West Wendover, where suddenly giant neon lit casinos line the road. They've actually painted the line of the border across the road, with the state names marked either side.

I can imagine the Wendover high school students all walking across the border to get plastered. We ate dinner on the West Wendover side, because the all-you-can-eat casino buffets were still open at eleven p.m. Inside was a swirl of light and neon so disorienting that I just kept my sunglasses on.

The phenomenon Phil has reported on of towns putting giant letters on the rocks outside of town is alive and well in Wendover, with this W up on the rocks behind my hotel. It's a funny geology: generally really flat, but with this rocks poking up everywhere. I think I've said this before, but I keep thinking that the whole landscape looks very much like the backdrop to a coyote and roadrunner cartoon. We kept our eyes peeled, but saw no coyotes, roadrunners or Acme birdseed-baited traps.

I was pretty sure that Wendover's military role was completely in the past, but just to be sure I asked at the FBO if there were any restricted areas on the airport. We wanted to look around at the heritage hangars and other relics. The woman at the FBO looked embarrassed to answer that yes, there was a restriction on my wandering, because there is a B737 that comes here, and the area where it parks and unloads is restricted to badged personnel. One of the casinos owns this airplane and provides very cheap flights to gamblers from a dozen or so locations around the country. I later discovered that I need to time my fuel needs around the servicing of the Boeing, because the FBO personnel are all required for handling the jet.

This Con Air airplane was sitting on the airfield, with the intention of its becoming part of a museum eventually. We went inside and you could see the lockups for the prisoners. What was left of the cockpit looked more like the cab of a truck than a flight deck.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Looks like you found one of the stand-in's for the movie Con Air. A quick search on Airliners.net brought up a few photos of the same aircraft as well as the 'real' airplane that did the flying sequences.

http://www.airliners.net/search/photo.search?regsearch=N709RR&distinct_entry=true

Tracy said...

As the photos from the previous comment link show, the flying version of the Con-Air plane was once at Reno-Stead (4SD). It sat on the ramp for several years, then was sold and ferried to Alaska to be used to haul drilling equipment. The same company bought the 'J' model (jets on the wingtips) that was sitting at Anchorage International.