|Nellis Air Force Base
|USGS aerial photo as of June 9, 1994|
|IATA: LSV – ICAO: KLSV – FAA: LSV|
|Airport type||Military: Air Force Base|
|Owner||United States Air Force|
|Operator||Air Combat Command|
|Location||North Las Vegas, Nevada|
|Occupants||99th Air Base Wing, 57th Air Base Wing|
|Elevation AMSL||1,867 ft / 569 m|
|Sources: official site and FAA|
Nellis Air Force Base (IATA: LSV, ICAO: KLSV, FAA LID: LSV) is a United States Air Force base located in North Las Vegas, Nevada. It is seven nautical miles (13 km) northeast of the central business district of Las Vegas. It was named in honor of P-47 pilot 1st Lieutenant William Harrell Nellis, who was killed in WWII during the Battle of the Bulge.
An installation of the Air Combat Command (ACC), Nellis is the location of the United States Air Force Warfare Center and is a major training location for both U.S. and foreign military aircrews. The base is named for William Harrell Nellis, a Las Vegas resident and Army Air Force P-47 pilot who died in action during the Battle of the Bulge.
The main base covers approximately 11,300 acres (4,600 ha). Sixty-three percent of it is undeveloped, while the remaining area is either paved or contains structures.
The base consists of three major functional areas.
As a result of its varied roles, Nellis AFB is home to more squadrons than any other Air Force Base.
Area 2 is widely regarded as one of the largest weapons storage sites in the United States. When atomic testing was occurring at the Nevada test Site, Area 2 was used for the storage of the weapons.
The history of the base began with a survey in October 1940 by Major David M. Schlatter of the Army Air Corps, who examined various sites in the Southwest looking for a location for an aerial gunnery school. Las Vegas was attractive for its clear weather and year-round flying, and the then-impoverished city was eager for a military base. On January 2, 1941 the city bought an airstrip run by Western Air Express and leased it to the Air Corps three days later, the plan being to use the strip for both military and civilian aircraft. One fallout of the opening of the base was the closing of Block 16 brothels in Las Vegas.
Construction of the "Las Vegas Army Air Field" began in March 1941; the first commander, Colonel Martinus Stenseth, arrived in May. Much of the early gunnery training, originally set to begin in September, but not underway until January 1942, used machine guns mounted in trucks and targets on railroad cars, used to accustom students to firing at a moving target. World War II made the base's mission especially urgent, and by the end of 1942, 9,117 gunners had graduated, with aircraft in use including Martin B-10s, AT-6s, A-33s, B-17 Flying Fortresses, B-24 Liberators, and B-26 Marauders. Remains of Clay Pigeons from these guns still exist today in the desert north of Las Vegas. Many pieces of the destroyed aerial drone targets litter the hillside north of the gunnery range and can be seen in town when the sun reflects off of them.
At the height of training in 1943 and 1944, over 15,000 men and women were at the base. Actors Ronald Reagan and Burgess Meredith came to help produce the film Rear Gunner. Much of the training was for B-17 gunners, then at the beginning of 1945 emphasis shifted to the B-29 Superfortress. An innovation was the use of a specially-designed target aircraft, the RP-63, which was sufficiently armored to be shot at with frangible bullets. At war's end, the school had trained more than 55,000 gunners including more than 45,000 B-17 gunners, and more than 3,000 for the B-29.
The gunnery school closed in September 1945, and the base itself was officially inactivated in January 1947. It was reactivated by the newly-created United States Air Force in March 1948, who organized an advanced single-engine school. The first Air Force Gunnery Meet was held at the base on May 2, 1949, with competitors from 14 Air Force units, flying both prop and jet aircraft.
The base was renamed Nellis Air Force Base on April 30, 1950 from Las Vegas Air Force Base. Shortly thereafter the base was again needed to prepare pilots for the Korean War, first with P-51 Mustang training, and then with F-80s and F-86 Sabres. The base also became a part of testing programs for new aircraft.
The Air Force air demonstration squadron, the Thunderbirds came to Nellis on June 1, 1956, along with F-100 Super Sabres. The F-105 Thunderchief arrived in 1960; in June 1962, two crashes in one day at Nellis forced the grounding of all F-105s for evaluation and modifications. The last USAF F-100s were retired in 1969, although the aircraft continued in use in the Air National Guard into the 1970s.
In 1969, the 57th Fighter Wing was activated to start then-named USAF Fighter Weapons School. Now known as the USAF Weapons School, it provides to this day graduate level training on all weapons systems that a USAF officer would be expected to utilize. This includes air to air combat with both gun and missiles and air to ground combat. The graduates are also given basic courses in fighter system maintenance in particular how to tell if a system is installed wrong during the preflight walk around.
Housing shortages had been a perennial problem for the base, but in the early 1970s Las Vegas' growth resulted in a new problem, with residential areas beginning to encroach on the flight paths. Although the problem was handled by modifying operations, the issue continues to plague both Nellis and Las Vegas planners.
Lessons from the Vietnam War led to the establishment of Red Flag exercises at Nellis. Pilots from the 64th Aggressor Squadron now fly F-16s according to the doctrines of possible enemy forces, and engaging in mock dogfights with visiting squadrons from the United States and countries friendly to the United States. The 65th Aggressor Squadron was activated and flies the F-15 in its first adversary role.
Continuing with the trend of competitive training, in 1981 the ten-day Gunsmoke '81 was the first gunnery meet to be held since 1962, and featured teams from all over the world. The event would continue to be held every two years. The 1980s were a busy time for Nellis, with a dozen types of aircraft being supported, as well as visiting aircraft from the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and foreign nations. In 1988, the F-117 Nighthawk was unveiled here; it had been developed and tested at the Tonopah Test Range, a smaller facility in the northern part of the nearby Nellis Air Force Range in the desert northwest of Las Vegas.
The Indian Springs Air Force Auxiliary Airstrip was a part of Nellis. While little known, it was home to the 11th, 15th, and 17th Reconnaissance Squadrons which operate the Predator RQ-1, MQ-1 and MQ-9 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV). On June 20, 2005 the field was renamed Creech Air Force Base.
On January 14, 2003 the first production F-22A Raptor was delivered to the base. Nellis Air Force Base was selected as the location for the F-22 Force Development Evaluation program and Weapons School for the reason of weather similar to that in Iraq and Afghanistan. On December 21, 2004 one F-22A crashed on takeoff, marking the first accident at the base since March 1996 and the first accident of an F-22 since 1992. As of July 2008, there were 12 Raptors assigned to the 422d Test and Evaluation Squadron for various development and evaluation missions.
The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Center for Excellence was established at Creech Air Force Base in 2005.
On November 14, 2006 the Air Force declassified information regarding an American-manned Russian MiG unit used in training at Nellis from the late 1970s to early 1980s. This unit was known as the Red Eagles and used MiG-17s, MiG-21s and MiG-23s to simulate combat to test the capabilities of the F-4 Phantoms, F-15 Eagles and F-16 Fighting Falcons.
On April 23, 2007 construction was started on a 140 acre, 70,000 solar panel power generation system. The installation on the west side of the base was completed in December 2007. The 14 megawatt system is expected to provide 25% of the base's power requirements. On May 27, 2009 President Barack Obama toured the photovoltaic array during a visit to the base where he promoted the Recovery Act of 2009 and renewable energy.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the base has a total area of 3.1 sq mi (8.0 km2), all of it land. It is also treated as a census-designated place by the United States Census for statistical purposes, and so specific demographic information about residents of the base is compiled. As of 2000, the base had a population of 8,896.
As of the census of 2000, there were 8,896 people, 2,873 households, and 2,146 families residing in the base. The population density was 2,895.9 people per square mile (1,118.8/km²). There were 3,040 housing units at an average density of 989.6/sq mi (382.3/km²). The racial makeup of the base was 68.46% White, 14.34% African American, 1.37% Native American, 4.97% Asian, 0.73% Pacific Islander, 4.90% from other races, and 5.23% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 11.72% of the population.
There were 2,873 households out of which 52.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 61.5% were married couples living together, 7.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 25.3% were non-families. 17.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 1.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.91 and the average family size was 3.36.
In the base the population was spread out with 33.4% under the age of 18, 19.7% from 18 to 24, 38.5% from 25 to 44, 7.1% from 45 to 64, and 1.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 24 years. For every 100 females there were 117.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 124.8 males.
The median income for a household in the base was $33,118, and the median income for a family was $34,307. Males had a median income of $25,551 versus $19,210 for females. The per capita income for the base was $13,601. About 10.0% of families and 11.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.4% of those under age 18 and 16.1% of those age 65 or over.
This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.
This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Government document "Nellis Air Force Base".
Redirecting to Nellis Air Force Base