Cameron Poe is the main protagonist of the film Con Air. He is an honorably discharged U.S. Army Ranger and native of Alabama. His wife is named Tricia (maiden name never revealed) and father to their daughter Casey. Poe is portrayed by Nicolas Cage.
Poe's early life is described as being a bit of a troublemaker during his childhood, though nothing serious. It is hinted that he was easily provoked into fighting with others. His military career helped to shapen up his attitude into a more disciplined and mature person.
Poe first appears attending his honorable discharge ceremony from the Army Rangers. He arrives in his hometown of Mobile, AL and greets his pregnant wife Tricia at a bar. After taking a moment to playfully speak to their unborn daughter, Poe and Tricia are briefly harassed by a drunken bar patron. They ignore him, but are later threatened by the same patron and his accomplices while leaving the bar. Poe takes a stand to protect his wife and ends up killing the ringleader. At his trial, he pleads guilty to manslaughter, hoping to face a short sentence. Unfortunately, due to his army training, he is declared too dangerous under normal circumstances, and is given a sentence of 7-10 years in San Quentin State Prison.
During Poe's incarceration, he writes to both his wife and daughter, learning of their lives without him. He also befriends a fellow decent inmate nicknamed "Baby-O". After several years, Poe is paroled and released from San Quentin to fly home aboard the prison plane called the Jailbird.
However, the plane is hijacked by a team of transfer prisoners aboard, including mass murderer Billy Bedlam, black supremacist leader "Diamond Dog", and mastermind Cyrus "The Virus" Grissom, seeking to rendezvous with convicted South American drug cartel leader Francisco Cindino, and escape to a non-extradition country. Poe's restraints prevent him from aiding the guards, who are all subdued or killed by the prisoners. To make matters worse, Baby-O's diabetic condition is jeopardized by requiring a shot of insulin, all the syringes destroyed during the takeover. Poe also fails to protect Willie Sims, a DEA agent sent aboard undercover as a convict, which devastates him and earns him the respect of Grissom, unaware of Poe's status as a free man.
With a required transfer of six prisoners, three of them (Benson, Karls, and Popovich) killed, Poe and Baby-O volunteer to get off the plane, hoping to alert the police. Baby-O is refused and Poe changes his mind, unwilling to let his friend die. Instead, he plants Sims' hidden tape recorder inside Falzon, a guard disguised as one of the separatees, when the plane lands at Carson City for the transfer. Poe's plan works only partially, as the authorities are alerted to the plane's hijacking, but are unable to stop it from leaving Carson City. Poe is then informed by Grissom that their next stop is Lerner Airfield, and that U.S. Marshal Vince Larkin is trying to track down the plane.
Poe is ordered to check on the plane's reason for not maintaining full speed and finds "Pinball" Parker, another convict involved in the hijacking, crushed to death by the plane's landing gear. Poe hastily scribbles a message to Larkin of the plane's destination on Pinball's shirt and drops his body over Fresno, CA, where the local police inform Larkin of the news.
Poe keeps a low profile against suspicion from Billy Bedlam and others of his opposition to their plans, but is forced to kill Bedlam when the latter discovers his letters to Casey and a birthday gift for her. Poe also verbally clashes with mentally insane convict Garland Greene on the semantics of murder.
When the plane lands at Lerner Airfield, Baby-O is near death. Poe goes in search of a syringe, preventing Diamond Dog from executing the captured guards, and learns that Cindino is planning to betray the others in an escape with associates, who have a plane hidden in a hangar. After dispatching Cindino's men, Poe meets Larkin face-to-face, the latter having called in for police and SWAT team members to capture the prisoners. Poe refuses to stand with Larkin, as he needs to save Baby-O first. Upon finding a syringe, Poe dodges a firefight between the prisoners and the arrived authorities. He ties up the plane and prevents the rape of captured guard Sally Bishop, by serial rapist Johnny 23, who had been lusting after her since the hijacking. Unfortunately for Poe, Baby-O, and Bishop, the plane takes off before they can leave.
With the Jailbird being pursued by Larkin and authorities, Poe is almost exposed as the opposition to Grissom's plans, when Baby-O claims he was responsible. Grissom shoots Baby-O, much to Poe's horror. While military helicopters fire on Grissom, Poe angrily charges through other prisoners (Viking, Conrad, and "Sally Can't Dance") to the cockpit and takes control of the plane. He orders a landing in Las Vegas and is almost killed by Grissom, when the plane crashes into the Sands Hotel. Most of the prisoners are recaptured by the police, but Grissom, Diamond Dog, and Swamp Thing escape on a firetruck. Poe and Larkin give chase, eventually killing all three of them, and avenging Sims in the process. Poe is reunited with his wife and daughter, though they are initially disturbed by all that has happened. Poe embraces his family and they smile understandingly.