Friday, November 14, 2008

Bonneville Salt Flats

As a kid I was enthralled with stories of the Bonneville Salt Flats. I finally got to visit them last week when I was in West Wendover, NV. I remembered the incredible speeds that were attained on the Salt Flats but learned some new things about them on this trip.

Abe Jenkins was the first one to set a new speed record on the Salt Flats in 1910 when he zoomed at 60 mph on a Yale Motorcycle. The next year, a car was finally driven over 50 mph there. Within only three years the new record for a car was set at 141.73 mph!

Records continued to fall until 1970 when Gary Gabelich piloted The Blue Flame at a speed of 622.40 mph, and didn’t leave the ground!

The salt flats were formed on the floor of an ancient lake, which was once over 1,050 feet deep. The lake was 145 miles wide and 346 miles long but has now retreated to what is the Great Salt Lake near Salt Lake City, a hundred miles to the east.

I knew about all of the land speed records that had been set at Bonneville, but wasn’t aware of all of the movies that have been filmed there. The Salt Flats act as a natural “green screen” which allows any background to be added to a film. Blockbuster films like Con Air, Independence Day, Pirates of the Caribbean 3, The Hulk and many others were filmed here.

The old Westover Air Base has been used for several of these films as well, the most memorable of which were Con Air, staring Nicholas Cage, where the concluding scenes were filmed, and Independence Day. That’s a picture of the Con Air plane that still sits on the base and the old hanger is the one that Will Smith as Captain Steven Hiller and Bill Pullman as President Thomas J. Whitmore, use in the last battle with the aliens to save the earth. Both are some of my favorite movies!

Can you tell that I’m having a ball traveling around this great country of ours?

No comments: