11 Dec 2007

Las Vegas - Day 5 Nellis AFB

F22 Raptor by Tim Beach

I must admit to being slightly concerned that in all the time we had so far been in Vegas I had not seen one advertisement or flyer for the weekend's airshow. Who knows perhaps it had been cancelled whilst we were in Los Angeles.
Because we now had no car, getting to the airshow was a challenge in its own right. We took the monorail up to the Stratosphere early on a glorious Saturday morning and then asked one of the passing buses for advice. The result was basically like a scene from Dumb and Dumber so in the end we took a cab and set off for Nellis AFB. As we approached the base it became obvious the main entrance was off limits to the general public and only for military personnel and the state governor so our taxi driver asked what on earth he should do with a couple of poor souls who were foolish enough to try to walk to an event. The solution was to drop us off in the middle of the desert at the NASCAR speedway arena where 200,000 other people had arrived by car, then get bussed back to the base. I'm already wondering how we're going to get back to the hotel but we will worry about that later.

Jackie enters a KC-10

Fantastic displays throughout the day against the backdrop of clear sparkling blue skies and terracotta mountains. Plenty of space between the ground items and numerous of aircraft open for a good nosey around inside. A reasonable selection of food was on offer as well which made a change from the usual airshow fare. It was interesting to see how the average American seemed reluctant to queue for anything other than burgers and hot dogs, the lines for these items being as long as a Disney ride in peak season whilst the delicious Indian cuisine on offer had no queue at all.


The flight line was well placed and despite the vast numbers attending it was always easy to find a prime viewing spot, especially with lots of people choosing to view from under the shade of a B52s wing.

The butt ugly or beautiful A-10. The Warthog

Favourites of the day had to be the old, ugly versatile A10, an aircraft which for some reason has always had a place in my heart. The great Korean and Vietnam set pieces which as Jackie pointed out gave great instruction on how different aircraft designs were developed for specific purpose. The Canadian Hornet team must have heard I was in the crowd sporting a RUSH tour t shirt, as its display was performed to a track from Snakes and Arrows. The Thunderbirds put on a superb and lengthy display: the missing man formation was particularly poignant as it flew out from the mountain landscape opposite.

F22 Raptor by Tim Beach

The F22 Raptor stealth bomber took to the skies late afternoon, this was the first time we had seen this beast in action. An unbelievable example of man and machine performing the almost impossible. The manoeuvres were breathtaking, if a little deafening! This was the ultimate highlight for us. Raptor pictures kindly supplied by Tim Beach who we met at Maclaren Airport on our return home, instinct telling us that a man with a lens that long snapping shots must have been at the airshow.

In the evening as the light faded the question of how we were to get back to the city still remained unanswered. The mobile had no signal and being shipped back in the opposite direction out into the desert would be a mistake. I began to look for a sympathetic looking individual among all the AF personnel, call me a sucker for a lady in uniform. After overseeing the State Governor's departure, her superior officer kindly sorted us an escorted ride off the base to the town of Nellis. Our lucky streak remained and we jumped on a bus opposite heading in vaguely the right direction. Phew- Vegas bound for a reservation that evening at Rosemary's Restaurant. ( Highly recommended place off the strip). Review to follow.

Below I have included two links. The first takes you to our gallery from the airshow and the second is a link to the website of photographer Tim Beach

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