Aviation Nation, the United States Air Force’s annual premier aerial event, is held annually each November over Veteran's Day weekend at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Nevada. Nellis is home to the Air Force's Thunderbirds air demonstration squadron.
Some of the nation’s top civilian aviators join the Thunderbirds at the air show. More than 15 additional demonstrations take to the skies, as well, ensuring the two-day event has something for everyone. Approximately 100 aircraft, covering everything from the earliest days of aviation to some of the nation’s newest military aircraft, are on static display.
Aviation Nation is the largest, free public event in Nevada and draws spectators from around the world.
History of Aviation Nation
Also known as "America's Air Show," Aviation Nation debuted in 2002. It was suspended in 2013 because of budget cuts, and there was no show in 2015. But the show resumed in 2016, and the 2017 Aviation Nation celebrated the 70th anniversary of the U.S. Air Force.
Planning a Visit to Aviation Nation
Aviation Nation is open to the public over Veterans' Day weekend. Gates open each day at 9 a.m. and flying begins at approximately 9:30 a.m. It fills up quickly, so your best bet is to arrive early.
If you're visiting for the first time, remember that Las Vegas is a dry, desert climate. Dress accordingly and don't forget to bring sunscreen and water. There are refill stations throughout the base. It gets hot, and you'll be there for several hours.
Sounds at Aviation Nation
Since these are military aircraft, they can be quite loud, so if you are sensitive to noise, also bring earplugs or some kind of ear protection. If you have kids, you may want to bring a wagon or stroller. It can also be beneficial to bring a cushion for the bleacher seats if you plan to stay for an extended period.
Parking and Extras at Aviation Nation
The event is free, but if you want to buy food or souvenirs at one of the vendor stands, bring cash.
Avoid parking and traffic and take a shuttle. The event offers buses to help minimize congestion, so you can park in an assigned parking lot at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway and take a bus to the Air Force base. Not only is admission to the show free, but parking and the shuttle bus are also free.
You cannot park on the air force base unless you are with the Department of Defense.