Nellis AFB is the home to the Thunderbirds, and they end their air show season with a finale there during the Aviation Nation event.
The ground show takes a while to wrap up. In the mean time, the Thunderbird theme music keeps looping... Anticipation has to be tempered by patience! :-)
With all preflight checks done, and the jets nicely warmed up, the Thunderbirds are a GO!
Thunderbirds 3 and 4 can be seen here.
Major John Gallamore (#3) gives a 'hang loose' signal.
That's Thunderbird #5 Lead Solo, Major Rick Goodman waving the American flag.
The hot exhaust from the jet engines create a mirage like shimmer in this picture.
After another long wait, Thunderbirds 1 through 4 take off!
A shot unique to Nellis, as the bright Thunderbird F-16s are framed by the rugged mountains behind them.
The 4 planes keep in tight formation even during take off.
The glow of their afterburners can be seen as they climb for altitude.
Here's opposing solo #6 taking off.
Followed by the lead solo #5. A row of sheltered F-16s can be seen behind.
Number 5 makes a quick U turn, and flies by the crowd loudly!
From behind the crowd comes 1 thru 4 in a diamond formation.
Light conditions kept changing that afternoon. Here's the diamond making a loop in what looks like very dark skies.
This is #5 streaking left for an opposing pass maneuver.
Though some people are really good at catching the crosses, it's sort of hit or miss for me!
Here's Thunderbird #6 making a tight turn right in front of the crowd.
A beautiful calypso pass, where #5 and 6 looks like their joined by their tails!
A dramatic cross over break.
Not too shabby capture. I get lucky sometimes!
The Trail to Diamond Roll can only mean one thing...
The SNEAK PASS is on the way!
With the Sneak pass so close, the roar of the jet engine in afterburner really gets the adrenaline going!
Pretty much the highlight of the show for me! :-)
Next up, the High Alpha Pass.
A nice close look at the cockpit of #6.
Plenty of time to get this shot, as he's going pretty slow for the High Alpha pass.
Here, the lead solo zips between the slower moving 4 planes.
A head on view of the diamond comes out of a loop.
The lead solo doing a Max Turn.
A nice dramatic view with the mountains and afterburner trail.
Planes look tiny against the mountain in the Diamond 360.
The Solos Rejoin is a surprise, as they sneak up and fly overhead without warning.
Nice and loud too!
With all 6 planes together, they perform the Delta Bottom Up Pass.
A dramatic view of one of the planes after the burst maneuver.
Another sharp move by the Solos in the Reflection Pass. Note the #5 lettering is upside down - which looks right side up when he's doing this!
All too soon, the show comes to a close with the Delta Pitch, the planes split off to land individually.
Here's the #2 plane keeping the nose up after landing, and already waving to the crowd!!
Downtown Las Vegas can be seen in the distance as the Thunderbirds line up to taxi back to their parking spots.
The #1 plane.
Thumbs up from Maj Rick Goodman.
As the last act of the day, the light was fading in and out behind some low clouds. Great job on the last show of the 2010 season!
Thunderbird ground crew members secure the planes after shutdown.
A static shot of the lead solo plane and Nellis control tower.
Capt Aaron Jelinek, opposing solo.
Maj Rick Goodman, lead solo.
Maj Sean Gustafson, slot.
Maj John Gallemore, right wing.
Maj John Baum, left wing.
Lt. Col Case Cunningham, commander and leader.