The Role a Former Maine Air Force Base Played in the 1983 Movie “War Games”
A 1983 movie about a teenage computer hacker who accidentally triggers a supercomputer to start a nuclear war has a scene that prominently features a real-life Air Force Base that used to exist in Maine.
War Games, starring Matthew Broderick was released during the Cold War when nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union was still a very real possibility.
In 1950, Loring Air Force Base was opened in the Aroostook County town of Limestone, a location chosen because it was the closest point in the continental United States to Europe. Nuclear weapons were stored at Loring making it a launching point if necessary but also making it a target.
Though the actual base itself is not shown in War Games, it is depicted on a giant situation map as a military General makes contact with strategic military bases across the country to maintain radio contact with them after missiles are launched by the Soviet Union and inbound to the U.S. in a nuclear strike that they cannot confirm is real or a computer simulation.
The first inbound missile is determined to strike Loring Air Force Base in Maine in one minute. Military Colonels check-in from each of the bases until they get to Loring Air Force Base in Maine, where the nervous voice of an Airman Dougherty reports that the Senior Controller is not there. No doubt this was a move to put a little humanity into the scene.
After the missiles have appeared to have struck, there's a bit of tension as the scene shows Loring Air Force Base on the situation map, waiting for a response. The General asks, "Is anyone still there?" to which the Airman responds "That's affirmative, sir. Yeah! We're here!"
The movie doesn't end there though and I won't spoil it if you've never seen it. Sure it's an old and dated movie, but it's fun to see what computers and hooking up to an online network like almost 40 years ago, something we take for granted today.
Thankfully, in the real world, the Cold War ended in 1991 and the threat of mutual destruction was not on the minds of the citizens of both countries as it was at the time of War Games release. Because of the minimized threat, Loring Air Force Base was closed in 1994. Today it's an industrial park and airport, but it will always be remembered by fans of War Games for having a brief but important role in the classic movie.
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