Aviation Nation 2012

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The much anticipated spotting weekend in Las Vegas has come and gone.  It was an amazing weekend filled with commercial spotting, military spotting, night landscape photography, and members also took part in some non-aviation related extra-curricular activities because, well it is Las Vegas you know!  All in all it was a very successful trip despite some less than perfect weather conditions.

When the sun came up on Friday morning it did not look like a promising spotting day.  It was a mostly cloudy sky, windy, and for us desert folk it was a bit chilly.  Members headed out to the Sunset Road viewing area anyways to see what we could get.  After spending an hour or so out there with the sun only peaking out occasionally, we decided to pack it up and take a long lunch break.  A few hours later the skies began to clear and the crew headed back to Sunset Road and got some great shots of the arrivals coming into 25L, and the weather at the “golden hour” was simply perfect!  Members were able to snag some amazing shots of the Virgin Atlantic 747 and the Korean 777 thanks to the clearing skies.   The day ended with some dinner, editing, and some much needed rest for Aviation Nation 2012.

The alarm clock sounded early in the hotel room on Saturday morning in order to get the members out to Nellis Air Force Base for Aviation Nation 2012.  Members Jason Bong, Felipe Garcia, Stephen Furst, and Jared Romanowicz fueled up with some coffee and breakfast, and then it was off to get our media passes for the air show. It appeared that we were going to have a beautiful day on our hands for the show and the forecast was for partly cloudy skies.  As we moseyed on through the statics, someone said “hey, what direction do you think that stuff is moving?”  We all took a look off to the southwest to see an enormous build-up of clouds and I think we all sighed and put our heads down in unison!   Unfortunately for us, it was moving our direction.  Members did the best we could with the lighting (and non-lighting) conditions that existed.  The aerial demonstrations began with an F-86 Sabre, MiG-15, T-33, A-1 Skyraider, and a T-6 Texan.   By the time the Learjet demonstration began the sun had begun to go behind the clouds and our chance at some great light for the rest of the show had gone away with it.  The highlight of the show for me was the F-15 and F-16 air-to-air demonstrations.  There was lots of action, and during the demonstration the aircraft dropped multiple IR flares to add to the reality.  The F-22 Raptor demonstration was excellent as well.  As the pilot taxied by the media pit he proceeded to show his “guns”, give the “thumbs up”, and even did the “raptor” which was photographed by member Jason Bong!  This guy was obviously excited to fly and loved his job!  The B-1 bomber also did some great fly-bys as well, and then the main attraction of the show, the USAF Thunderbirds, finished up the festivities.

After the airshow we met up with members Joe Kates and Dave Budd along with other members from Photorecon at the Sunset Station Hotel and Casino for dinner.  Good food and good conversation between fellow members never gets old.  After dinner we took off back to the strip for some night photography, and then it was on to our extra-curricular activities.  What?  You thought I was going to describe those events as well?  Sorry, but the standard Vegas phrase is going to have to apply for that, what happens in Vegas…stays in Vegas! (except for plane spotting stories)

Sunday began late for all of us, but we did make it back to the airport for some more commercial spotting.  The weather was perfect, but all of us had our different departure times and we slowly trickled out of town.  Stephen Furst and myself were able to stick around until sunset and were treated to a daylight arrival (just barely) of the Phillipine A340!  So, despite some disappointing weather and a little confusion the morning of the airshow, it was a fantastic weekend.

Thanks goes out to A1C Young from the PAO office for making this happen for PHXSpotters.com. We are already for next year!


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