Home Forgotten History Ghosts of the Past: Historic Wendover Airfield

Ghosts of the Past: Historic Wendover Airfield

by Jennifer Jones
Wendover Airfield Paranormal Experience - The Dead History
Reading Time: 6 minutes

If you’re from northern Utah, you’ll know the main reason people visit Wendover, Nevada is to gamble. Located about an hour and a half from Salt Lake City, it’s a fairly quick drive and a popular weekend destination.  The Bonneville Salt Flats which are just outside of Wendover is also a tourist destination, but somehow the Wendover Airfield has mostly been forgotten.

I had heard of the Wendover Airfield before our visit but didn’t know much about it or its history. I was also aware that it was said to be haunted and figured we should check it out before making the trek back to Ogden.

Matt and I checked out of the hotel and drove down Wendover Blvd towards the old Lincoln Highway, accidentally taking the long way to the Air Field. We found Airport Way and soon could see barbed wire fencing with US Air Force Installation warning signs posted here and there. We could see large, old hangars off in the distance and the control tower and knew we were heading in the right direction. That, and the fact that Wendover is tiny and there’s not much else out there.

Wendover Early 1940's

Image Courtesy of Utah Department of Heritage and Arts

One of the neat things about the Wendover Airfield is that it is still in use as an airstrip, and they still utilize a couple of the old WWII era hangars and other buildings. While this was once a large airfield, most of the original buildings are no longer standing, and many of the ones that are left are slowly becoming the victims of time and neglect.

Why Is The Wendover Airfield Historically Important?

In 1940, the United States Army was looking for new bombing training bases. The small, desolate town of Wendover, Utah fit the bill perfectly. There were miles of land that was uninhabited, the nearest “big” city (Salt Lake) was over 100 miles away, and the weather was perfect for flying. The town also had a rail connection. Construction began on September 20th, 1940 and by the time it was deemed a sub-post of Ft. Douglas in Salt Lake City in July 1941, it had acquired 1.8 million acres of surrounding land. The first military group arrived in August 1941, and they must have been in for a shock.

Wendover Airfield Paranormal Experience - The Dead History

To put it lightly, Wendover Airfield was not the most hospitable place. The barracks had practically no insulation and for a while no source of heat. (They never had any form of air conditioning) As a result, they were freezing in winter and broiling in the summer. There was no town to speak of nearby so there was nothing for the men to do in what little free time they had. But things would change for the bombing base when the United States formally entered WW2.

In March 1942, the army activated Wendover Airfield and it became a training base for B-17 and B-24 bomber crews.  It gained its notoriety and historical importance when it was named as the training site of the 509th Composite Group. This group was the B-29 unit that carried out the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Enola Gay was based and loaded here prior to leaving for her fateful mission. Wendover Field was now part of the Manhattan Project and was given the code name Kingman. The atomic weapons training was given the codename Project W-47.

Enola Gay Hangar - The Dead History

Enola Gay Hangar

By 1943 the base was home to over 2,000 civilian employees and almost 18,000 military personnel. Although it’s hard to picture it now, during the height of the war the base had over 668 buildings, including a 300-bed hospital complex, and 361 housing units.

Paranormal Activity?

Following the war, the airfield was used less and less until it was finally declared surplus in 1972. By that time, though many of the buildings had been destroyed, a few managed to survive, and it appears a few ghosts of the past have survived along with them. Could it be that the restoration efforts in recent years have stirred up some paranormal activity?

When we visited the Service Club it was only myself, Matt and our friend Helmey in the building along with a volunteer. We really had no intention of looking for ghosts when we were there, but Helmey just happened to have his voice recorder with him. While Matt was in another part of the Service Club talking to the volunteer, Helmey and I walked into the big open room that held a model of the Little Boy atomic bomb. What I didn’t realize then, was that this model was signed by people involved in Project W-47, including the pilot of the Enola Gay, Lt. Col. Tibbets.

Little Boy Bomb Model - The Dead HistoryHelmey pulled out his voice recorder and set it on the glass case and we began talking about the airfield, the men,  and their mission. I think that sometimes the best paranormal experiences are ones that you aren’t expecting, and we just so happened to capture one of the most intriguing EVPs I’ve heard.

There’s a couple of things I want to point out about this EVP. The first is that Helmey set the voice recorder on the glass case and did not touch it again until he turned it off. Neither of us were moving around, and we were standing 2-3 feet away from the recorder. Lastly, we were the only people in this part of the building.

So we started talking with the staff who have been working for years to maintain and restore these historic buildings about possible ghosts at the airfield. They confirmed that yes, they have heard stories over the years about spooky incidents at the airfield.

Just a couple of weeks ago as we were taking a tour of the airfield, Helmey did some quick on the spot EVP sessions in various buildings. This was captured in one of the old barracks.

Why Would There Be Ghosts Here?

While there’s no rhyme or reason as to why some places are haunted, an old WW2 airfield might not be a place that one would expect to find ghosts. But when that airfield dealt with some really heavy, top-secret missions, it’s not too surprising to me that this place has some ghosts hanging around.

Wendover Field was full of young men (and women) who were facing war, away from their families, and isolated from the rest of the world. Most of these men could not talk about what they were working on to anyone, including their fellow airmen. This was a location that dealt with the casualties of training for war on a daily basis. There were quite a few plane crashes here in the 1940’s. The survivors were brought to the hospital, where many did not survive. There were also natural deaths and suicides.

Wendover Airfield Paranormal Experience - The Dead History

Wreckage of a military plane crash near Wendover Field Image Courtesy of Utah Department of Heritage and Arts

For many years this was a location where stress was often very high, and as a result, emotions ran high.  I personally believe that most haunted locations are a result of residual energy. And Wendover Field is the perfect place for this.

If you’ve ever wanted to investigate a location that has never been open to the general public for investigation before, now is your chance!

Join us for an evening of historical and paranormal presentations, dinner, and investigations of 6 separate locations. You’ll learn the history behind each location and the paranormal activity reported there before you get the chance to experience it for yourself.

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1 comment

Carson November 23, 2018 - 4:47 pm

I live in West Wendover and my dad works at the air base and he lets us investigate the air base

Reply

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