History-rich Wendover Airfield aims to draw tourists

The Historic Wendover Airfield has embarked on a large-scope restoration project that could make it the second aerospace museum in the state and a tourist destination.

The site is located about 150 miles west of Salt Lake City, near Utah’s western boarder with Nevada.

Tom Demery, a volunteer at the Hill Aerospace Museum, said the Wendover museum is looking for donations to fund several projects that will ultimately transform the decades-old airfield into something that will attract visitors from all over the region. 

Volunteer labor is also needed at the museum.

“They’re basically trying to become the state’s second aerospace museum,” Demery said. “They want to make it look like it did in the mid-1940s when bomber crews trained there, but they need some help, and they need the public to learn about what they’re trying to do.”

Wendover Army Air Base, as it was known then, was activated in March 1942 as a B-17 and B-24 heavy bombardment training base. The first unit, the 306th Bombardment Group, was made up of four squadrons of B-17 aircraft that arrived that April.

During World War II, the airfield was home to ballistic test work and the modification of B-29 aircraft that was part of the famed Manhattan Project, which was ultimately responsible for delivering the atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan during the war.

“It’s a place that has so much important history, but I don’t think many people are aware of it,” Demery said. “Ultimately, we want (Wendover Airfield) to be a place that people look at and say, ‘Hey, that had a lot to do with us winning World War II, let’s go see it.’ ”

There are currently seven different renovations ongoing at the airfield, including several buildings, a control tower, a hangar and an F-86L airplane. The airfield is also looking to procure a B-29.

For more information on the Wendover restoration, including how to donate or help with certain projects, visit www.wendoverairbase.com.