Fighters on the Strip

All / Auto / Lifestyle & Culture / Travel / August 11, 2023

Las Vegas hosts Aviation Nation at Nellis Air Force Base

Nellis Air Force Base hosts Aviation Nation

I always get excited when I can head out to Vegas. It’s such an exciting place. It’s some kind of weird, mythical dreamland that is constantly changing shape. Every time I head out that way the landscape has changed and new buildings have been raised. The level of development in that town is just extraordinary and I can’t believe just how fast it is changing all the time. So, when my friend and I decided to head out there to check out the Nellis Air Show (Aviation Nation) I couldn’t have been more excited. My friend had not been out there in over ten (!) years and it had been over a year for myself, so we knew that we would be seeing a lot of new things. Little did we know that the strip wouldn’t be the only amazing thing that weekend. The show that we went to go see was the highlight and just the cherry on top of a great weekend.

I had wondered for years what the Nellis Air Show was like. I have been going to air shows since I was a kid and have had the fortune of seeing some amazing things in those years. I still have a place in my heart for El Toro and the amazing experience that air show gave to me. I also have a place in my heart to a lot of other local air shows. However, for whatever reason I never made it out to Vegas to watch a show. It’s always been on my bucket list but I never made it out there. Well ladies and gentleman, this was about to change. And not only would I finally got to check out the show but I would get the chance to do it with one of my best buddies. Hell yeah! Nothing better than a weekend in Vegas and shooting some of the sexiest aircraft ever to grace the earth. Yes, we were in it and it was going to be amazing.

So, when the day finally came to check out the show would we find what we were looking for? Would Vegas provide the perfect backdrop to what we imagined in our heads would be the perfect show? Well, let’s just say, other than the crummy parking situation (yes, that setup for parking was awful, and I suggest that if there is one thing that the show can do better is to route people to the raceway where the parking is easier) the show was epic. A lot of that had to do with the way everything was laid out and just how much was going on.

The setup on the runway was fantastic and there were plenty of food and merch vendors all over the place. Spacious and full of aircraft there was plenty to see there at the show. And the schedule was relentless. From the moment we got to the show aircraft of all types were screaming in the sky. From F-16’s to F-35’s and everything else in between it was awesome. My favorite moments had to do with the flight/combat demo (of which I wish I had photos for. Sadly I did not have more than a 200mm lens to shoot that way so it was a bit out of reach) and the Thunderbirds at the end (of course). The layout of the show and how near it was to the runway was a dream to shoot. Unlike most of the other shows I have been to (that are near neighborhoods), this show was far enough away from houses that the planes would really close to the audience. I love this fact and that alone makes me want to come back. Any show that gives us photographers a great setup to shoot what we want is really nice. It also helped that the weather that whole weekend was amazing.

All I can say is this, if you are in Vegas in early November I totally recommend that you check out this show. Entrance is free and the weather and time of year is very welcoming to be in the area. I just happened to be there for SEMA just a few days prior and I stayed in Vegas for his event. I am mad at myself for not having gone sooner. But, now having been there I will definitely make it out to the show again. Of course, the show was just the beginning of the adventure that my homie and I could have that weekend, but that is just what the setting of Vegas provides. But, check out some of the pictures down below of the show from that day. I definitely recommend that you check it out. You definitely won’t regret it.

The legendary F-22 Raptor made an appearance at this show
The Thunderbirds spooling up their engines
Walking into the show your first get to see just how massive the C-5 Galaxy is
The Thunderbirds’ make a beautiful pass for the crowd
Everyone wanted their picture with the Top Gun F-18. Even if it’s just part of the plane
The BONE shows off its sleek lines and dangerous guts
A beautiful example of a Douglas C-47 Skytrain was at the show
The new F-35A looking absolutely incredible
A view of the KC-10 that only pilots and the very few get to see
The B-1 Lancer spreads its wings on the runway at Nellis
A brand new Growler shows us some of its new hardware
The Russian adversary paint scheme on this F-16 is just pure sexiness
Here we go
HH-60 Pavehawk being looked over by the masses
This was my first look at the UH-72 Lakota helicopter. Awesome
The F-15 never fails to impress. This is one superb example
One more shot of this fine EA-18G Growler
Aggressor F-16 in splinter/Russian paint scheme. Just awesome
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Words and photos by Daniel Navarrete

This article was prepared or accomplished by Daniel Navarrete in his personal capacity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Spektrum Magazine, or its affiliates.

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Daniel Navarrete

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