Nellis AFB is the home to the Air Force Thunderbirds jet demonstration team, as the sign on the building behind this F-15 so proudly proclaims.
As this shot shows, it's pretty close to the Las Vegas downtown strip. Don't let the zoomed picture fool you though, it's still a good 25 minutes away by car!
Here's one of the stars of the show, and current darling of the air force - the F-22 Raptor!
For the Aviation Nation airshow, parking was off-base at the Las Vegas Speedway. There, buses would shuttle the visitors on to base after going through a security screening.
Here's a distant shot of the base with the iconic Vegas skyline in the background.
The front end of a USAF RC-135V Rivet Joint. The planes' extensive sensors allow it to detect, identify, and locate various electromagnetic signals - fairly crucial on the modern battlefield in determining enemy threats and location.
One of the 2 B-25 Mitchells at the show, here about to start up the engines.
A view of the other B-25, 'My Buck'. Curiously enough, the other side of the plane has the noseart of 'Executive Suite'.
The V-22 Osprey is one of those simple ideas, which proved devilishly tricky to execute. With the rotors pointed up, it could hover and fly like a helicopter. With the rotors facing forward, it would have the speed and range of a conventional airplane. Meant for shipboard operations, the blades can fold up (shown here), and the wings can scissor sideways to take up less storage space.
After a fairly long and painful development period, V-22 Ospreys began operational deployment in such far away places as Iraq and Afghanistan. Quite recently, MV-22s were used in the recovery of a downed F-15E crew member in Libya.
On static display only, the Osprey did not fly a demo at Nellis. Here, the engines are shown in a transitional position - with the rotors locked in the operational position.
The A-10 'Warthog' is as close to a flying tank as one can get. Designed to fight off hordes of invading enemy armour, the A-10 sports a killer GAU-8 30mm gatling gun, which can turn the toughest main battle tank into smoldering junk in short order.
Though the Avenger gun is often the center of attention and awe, the A-10 can carry a large assortment of precision guided bombs and missiles for close support of ground units. Seen here is a AIM-9 sidewinder missiles for air to air engagements.
The Warthog can carry a combined 16,000lbs of bombs, missiles, rockets, and pods on 11 hard points. This is twice as much weight as a WWII B-17 bomber can carry (for a short mission at that)!
The rear end of the Warthog looks like a cute anime character. :-)
This brightly painted F-18 is operated by NASA. Sounds like a pretty cool gig!
NASA uses the F-18s as chase planes, camera platforms, as well as for routine flight training.
Some of the displays there were quite interactive and fun, as this young lady trying on combat gear shows!
On display is a Cessna Skymaster 337/O2. With twin tail booms and pull/push propellers, the Skymaster functioned as a Forward Air Controller during the Vietnam war.
The B-25 'Heavenly Body' getting ready to start up.
This amphibious flying boat is a Seabee Warbird made by Papa November. Flew from 1947 to 1955.
Kids got a chance to spin the knobs (which worked by the way) on an anti-aircraft gun.
Soviet style anti-aircraft missile launcher.
Pair of B-25s in the evening light.
A-1 Skyraider with wings folded.
2 Seater Skyraider. These planes are huge, and I believe the largest single engined pison airplane built!
C-17 Globemaster III was open for tours all day long.
Nice light for the venerable B-52 stratofortress.
The B-52 soldiers on more than 55 years after they were first introduced. Few weapon systems, let alone front line combat aircraft, can lay claim to such a long service life. In fact, the air force plans to keep flying them till at least 2040!
The immense wingspan of the B-52 can be felt in this shot. In the background, Air Force personnel are forming a scrimmage line to begin shooing out those pesky lingering guests!
Had time yet to grab a few shots here and there on the way to the bus lines. Here's a F-18 hornet in the last bits of evening light.
E-2 Hawkeye provides early warning radar capabilities.
The EA-6B Prowler is still being used by the Navy for jamming enemy radar and gathering electronic intel. They are slowly being phased out though.
An F-5 in agressor squadron colors.
Another look at the prowler. Sun was setting pretty quickly!
Nice shinny WWII era twin engined transport. Didn't catch the name though.
This A-10 is from the 442nd Fighter Wing out of Missouri.
Can't get enough of the Warthog!
There were some cool looking RAF Eurofighter Typhoons there as well.
Too bad I didn't get to see them fly! Might have to go all the way to Europe to see them in the air! :-)
Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin.
The Dolphin is used by the USCG for Search and Rescue operations. Here, the rotors are tied down - so they don't spin about in the wind!
A much bigger helicopter is the HH-60 Jayhawk. This one flown out of Coast Guard San Diego.
Twilight shot of the Osprey with the rotors folded.
Yes, expect a LONG line for the buses back to the LV Speedway. Unlike Easy Bake, there's no easy-on, easy-off!