Picture(s) A Day – Aviation Nation 2010 – Sunday At Nellis AFB
Sorry for the delay everyone, but I was just flat worn out Sunday night and yesterday wasn’t the greatest day, either. I managed to get the pictures for this post edited and the panoramas stitched together, and uploaded, but getting them built into the post and captioned took a bit too much time. I finally got that finished tonight and I hope you enjoy the results Let’s get to the pics
If you read yesterday’s post, you know that I got into the parking lot a bit later than I’d normally like to and I paid the price in a very long wait to get on the bus and therefore to the flight line. Not so on Sunday!
Something about the Base Ops building just seems right to me. The low profile, southwest architecture and the palm trees are just cool
Most people walk right by both the base ops building without noticing the details. I try to find all the neat stuff I can and I thought these seals in the helipad were interesting.
It hadn’t occurred to me in previous years to wonder who Nellis Air Force Base was named for and why, but that changed this year. The question popped into my head on Thursday or Friday and I found the answer on Sunday. This plaque is at the entrance to the base ops building. William H. Nellis was a hero in WWII and it is surely fitting to have named this base in his honor.
I use my panorama software quite a lot because I just can’t afford a camera or lens that goes to the wide angle I need it to. The C-5 Galaxy takes up a whole lot of real estate in front of a camera as well as on the ground!
Both the F-15 Eagle and the F-16 Viper have been around nearly as long as I have, but they’re still going strong and are the backbone of the US Air force. The Eagle is an unbelievably capable air superiority fighter while the Viper can go air to air or air to ground.
If the F-15 Eagle is a 10 on the scale of air superiority fighters, the F-22 Raptor is off the chart. The Raptor has a lower radar signature than an F-117 Nighthawk, more maneuverability than anything larger than a hummingbird, and more power and speed than an F-15. When the Raptors are in the air, opposing jets have a habit of falling out of the sky with zero warning. I’ve heard stories from credible sources of four Raptors starting a dogfight at a disadvantage against twelve F/A-18 Hornets only to have beaten all of their opponents in under two minutes with zero losses. This aircraft is a true marvel of aviation technology and a tribute to American excellence as are the men and women who fly and maintain them.
Dominating the air war is a necessary mission, but you need boots on the ground to take and control territory. Enemy troops and armor are of course very real threats to US and friendly ground forces and that’s where the A-10 Warthog comes into the picture. With eleven hard points capable of carrying nearly any precision or free fall weapons in the inventory, the A-10 can bring a world of hurt to anyone on the other side of the conflict. Add in the incredible seven barrel, 30mm GAU-8 rotary cannon that fires over 4,000 rounds a minute that can destroy any armored vehicle or tank in the world and you’ve got a winner when the grunts need close air support!
What do you get when you add air to ground capability and a weapons system operator in a second seat to an F-15 Eagle? You get the F-15E Strike Eagle. The Strike Eagle retains all the great speed and maneuverability of the air to air F-15, but it can take the fight to the enemy’s ground forces as well. The bulges you see on the sides of the fuselage are conformal fuel tanks allowing the Strike Eagle to go farther than it otherwise would be able to without carrying drag inducing external tanks or taking up time and space in the operational environment while refueling from a KC-10 or KC-135 tanker.
I met Joe a few months ago at New Frontier Armory / Infinite Arms. He doesn’t work there – he was just another customer along with me. We both love guns and shooting in the desert even if we have different tastes when it comes to rifles and pistols. Joe just happens to be a crew chief working on the F-22 Raptors at Nellis and though we hadn’t planned to meet up, he recognized me and gave me a very special, up-close and personal tour of the jet I’d have loved to get pictures of all the stuff I got to see, but that’s not possible without prior clearance and we didn’t have that. I’m also a supporter of secrecy when it comes to technology like the F-22 and while it may be just fine for me to see it, I don’t know what I should and should not publish so until all those conditions are met, you’ll only see pics from a distance and in a very public setting Joe, thanks again for a freaking awesome time at the airshow with the Raptor
The Nevada Highway Patrol and Department of Public Safety are always at Aviation Nation. It’s a great place for them to meet the public in a positive situation and it works well for recruiting, too.
The First Composite Group also shows up every year at Aviation Nation and they’re a great group of guys
The twin Beech is one of the aircraft that comes to my mind when I think of an airplane with style and class This C-45 Expediter just really captured my eye with its gleaming polished aluminum. I can’t imagine trying to keep that finish in that condition
Some of the pilots at Nellis are there to play the bad guys in training. The adversary aircraft are painted to represent the look of enemy aircraft and the pilots fly enemy tactics to help train our combat pilots. This F-16 is one of those adversary jets and I can’t help but think it looks really cool!
First flown in 1952, the B-52 Stratofortress continues to serve as the backbone of the USAF’s heavy bomber force. Also known as the “BUFF” which stands for Big Ugly Fat F**ker, this aircraft can carry almost any air to ground weapon in the inventory and it can carry a whole lot of them! Be it precision or free fall, laser or GPS guided, conventional or nuclear, the B-52 will carry its load of ordinance to the target anywhere on the globe and will lay wast to the target. I talked to the pilot of this B-52 and he says the earliest date that’s being considered right now for retirement of the B-52 force is 2044. Yes, some of these airplanes will be 90 years old when they’re finally retired!!!
Aviation Nation 2010 featured a flight demonstration by a variety of trainer aircraft which isn’t something you see at the average airshow.
Gregory Colyer is the pilot of the T-33 that’s known as “Ace Maker” and he does a wonderful job of showing it off! The T-33 was introduced around the time of the Korean War and served for several decades as a jet trainer. I’d hoped to meet Gregory this year, but I didn’t get the chance for a number of reasons, most of which are my fault. Thanks for bringing Ace Maker down to Vegas again, Greg!
Although the C-17 didn’t fly for the crowds this year, there were two of them on static display and I think they’re one of the best cargo aircraft flying. The C-17 can carry a huge load of cargo a very long way and is not limited to paved runways which means the goods can get to the grunts quicker and more reliably.
I’ll be honest – I drive a desk and a phone for a living and I’m not used to being on my feet and walking all day long. I figured a good place to have a seat for a little while out of the sun and to get off my feet was just behind the starboard forward landing gear of the BUFF. I also thought you’d like a little bit different view of the airplane than what you might have seen before
Yep, it’s the C-17 again I really wouldn’t mind having one of these jets if I could afford it along with the gas and maintenance. There’s a ton of remote dry lakes in Nevada and Utah that would be perfect to visit in such a plane
Aviation Nation doesn’t feature just military aircraft. Every year Nellis AFB plays host to some spectacular civilian aerobatic performers. Here we see a couple of the airplanes of those aerobatic artists over in the hot pits.
The “hot pits” are areas where aircraft are parked that will be flying at some time during the day. Sometimes the hot pits (or part of them) are open to the public and sometimes they’re not. This year saw both open and closed hot pits, but we still got a good look at the warbirds brought over for flying demonstrations by the Planes of Fame museum in Chino, CA
Here’s another view of the BUFF from the viewing area for the hot pits. This one’s based out of Barksdale AFB in Louisiana.
Despite the best efforts of our pilots, sometimes an aircraft is shot down in combat and the pilot has to be rescued. This year we were treated to a vintage Combat Search and Rescue demonstration with aircraft from the Vietnam era. The only participating aircraft you don’t see here is the F-4 Phantom which I didn’t get any good digital pictures of. You’ll have to wait for me to get the film developed for Phantom pics
Not all airplanes are produced in a factory by people whose only job is building airplanes. Quite a few aircraft air built every year by average people in hangars and garages across the land. Aviation Nation paid tribute to the home builders with a nice overflight by a large formation of some really impressive airplanes flown by the people who built them
If you don’t like F-22 Raptors, this ain’t the blog for you! These two were on hand to fly the demonstration for the crowd along with participating in the Heritage Flight. I like seeing them with the canopies open and the horizontal stabilizers not perfectly centered as they usually are. Click on the bottom pic and look at the guy by the Raptor on the left for a better idea of the size of these jets
I’ve met people at Nellis who’ve come from as far away as New York and Great Britain just to attend Aviation Nation. This guy came from southern California for some good airshow pics and I think he got some good ones
LTCDR Dustin “2Pac” Lee brought this F/A-18C Hornet down to Aviation Nation 2o10. VFA-94 is known as the Shrikes and many of my readers no doubt are familiar with a blog run by someone with more than a passing familiarity with that squadron Big thanks go out to LTCDR Lee for bringing a bit of the Navy out to Las Vegas so this expatriate from San Diego could feel a bit more at home
While this pic may be more than a bit funny, I’m definitely not trying to give the Navy any ideas With all they’ve got Hornets doing on the carriers these days, I’m sure AWACS isn’t an inconceivable role in someone’s eyes up in the Pentagon!
Here’s another time when I had to use my panorama software to make up for the lack of a very wide angle lens. The C-17 sure ain’t small!
It’s difficult to believe, but the E-2 Hawkeye has been around the Navy for 50 years! Able to see and control over three million cubic miles of airspace, Hawkeyes are the eyes of the fleet. With an E-2 up in the sky, ships can receive data linked radar information and can keep their own radars turned off thus preserving the secrecy of their location. The latest generation of Hawkeyes has some really neat gear and these eight bladed propellers are pretty cool looking, too. I wonder if those de-icing patches on the props are heated or inflated?
I’d have taken these pictures anyway, but I made sure to post a couple of the good ones for Glenn as he’s got a personal history with the Prowler The EA-6B is based on the old Grumman A-6 Intruder and it’s specialty is blinding the enemy via massive watts of radio frequency energy that can jam their systems and turn radar screens to snow.
My digital camera has a bit of a problem when it’s zoomed at all. There’s a speck of dirt or something between the lens elements that shows up anytime I try to use the zoom. This pic would’ve shown that, but I was able to crop it out in editing. You haven’t seen many pics of airplanes actually in the air for just that reason. Those pics will be along before too much longer
Never one to miss out on some good publicity, the US Coast Guard brought a couple of their search and rescue (SAR) helicopters to Nellis for the airshow. That big thing you see on the HH-60 are external fuel tanks which are needed for long range SAR missions.
OK, it’s not strictly aviation or airshow related, but I thought this picture was cool enough to include anyway
The USAF’s go-to helicopter for CSAR is the MH-60 Pavehawk. The long tube you see sticking out from the nose is a probe for in-flight refueling and if you look at the back door you’ll see an M-2 .50 caliber heavy machine gun. With the firepower to protect itself in hostile areas, the Pavehawk is also used for special forces missions.
Believe me when I say that I never want this aircraft to have to do its job. The E-6B Mercury was built to relay commands to strategic forces during wartime. By strategic forces I mean nuclear armed ICBMs and SLBMs. This is a no kidding doomsday airplane.
I could’ve stayed around the flight line for a couple of hours more, but I decided to leave while the lines for the buses were short. Yes, I know I missed out on what had to have been a gorgeous sunset and I might have seen some of the static display airplanes take off and head for home. I know this, but there comes a time when you’ve just about run out of steam and you know you have to save some energy for the drive home. Sunday at Aviation Nation was like that. I was a bit sunburned, very tired, and somewhat dehydrated due to the cost of a bottle of water, Gatorade, or soda having been set at $4.00 each. You don’t want to know the price for the pizza and funnel cake. I figured I’d get out while the gettin’ was good and you can see in this pic just how many people were all trying to leave at once. I had a great time and I can’t wait to do it all over again next year
Thanks again for stopping by! Stay tuned and you’ll get to see some of the film pics in the near future
Have a great Wednesday, everyone
5 comments to Picture(s) A Day – Aviation Nation 2010 – Sunday At Nellis AFB
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