The U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, the “Thunderbirds,” are flying over the Las Vegas metropolitan area during their return to Nellis Air Force Base from air shows outside the city limits.
The Thunderbirds, in conjunction with McCarran International Airport and Nellis Air Force Base, are integrating the flyover to showcase their appreciation and support to the city, provide inspiration to local residents and visitors and strengthen the Air Force’s partnership with the local community.
“We’re excited and honored to incorporate a flyover of Las Vegas into our flying operations,” said Lt. Col. John Caldwell, Thunderbirds commander and leader. “This route change allows us to provide a visual display of our appreciation, commitment and support to our hometown on a routine basis.”
The flyover will typically occur on Mondays between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. when the squadron returns from an air show or event outside of the city limits. It will feature six to eight F-16 Fighting Falcons flying close in precise formation, soaring approximately 400 miles per hour at low altitudes between 500-1,000 feet above ground.
The Thunderbirds will use one of the following flight paths for their return to Nellis Air Force Base:
• South Arrival Route: the formation will start flying at low altitudes at South Point Casino before soaring eastbound down the Las Vegas strip into North Las Vegas and landing at Nellis Air Force Base. This flyover will last approximately 2 minutes.
• East Arrival Route: the formation will start flying at low altitudes at Fiesta Station and head west before turning right at the South Point Casino. Then, it will soar eastbound down the Las Vegas strip into North Las Vegas and land at Nellis Air Force Base. This flyover will last approximately 4 and 1/2 minutes.
• West Arrival Route: the formation will start flying at low altitudes over downtown Summerlin and head south past Ikea before turning left at the South Point Casino. Then, it will soar eastbound down the Las Vegas strip into North Las Vegas and land at Nellis Air Force Base. This flyover will last approximately 3 and 1/2 minutes.
The arrival routes were coordinated and selected to maximize efficient air traffic flow and cover key Las Vegas landmarks. Additionally, the formation and route selection will depend on operational and mission requirements, air traffic, aircraft availability and weather.
Residents along these routes can expect to see white, non-hazardous smoke emitting from the high-performance aircraft and a few seconds of jet noise as the aircraft pass overhead.
The Thunderbirds welcome and encourage viewers to tag the team on social media in photos and videos of their formation with the hashtags #AFThunderbirds and #LasVegasArrival.
It is important to note that the Thunderbirds will not fly over the Las Vegas metropolitan area upon return from routine flying training in the Nevada Test and Training Range.
For more on the team, follow @afthunderbirds on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Upcoming air shows include:
Oct. 17-18: Fort Worth, Texas
Oct. 24-25: Rome, Ga.
Oct. 31-Nov. 1: Orlando, Fla.