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Nellis - Aviation Nation 2006

Aviation Nation 2006 by Victor G. Archer

The fifth annual Aviation Nation air show presented by the U.S. Air Force located at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada is the premier air show of the U.S. Air Force and one of the largest aviation events in North America. This year several military air demonstration teams including one from Belgium and some of the nation’s top civilian air performers participated in this two-day event and is one of the most diverse, entertaining and well run air shows in America.

The aerial demonstrations at Aviation Nation were a salute to the past, present and future of American airpower. Demonstrations from present day aircraft included the General Dynamics/Lockheed Martin F-16 “Fighting Falcon”, one being flown by the U.S. Air Force and another F-16 was flown by the Belgium Air Force. The Belgium F-16 demonstration was a really amazing display of brute strength; most of the maneuvers were performed with full afterburning power at high angles of attack pulling lots of positive and negative G's. The jet twisting and turning through the sky really lived up to its other name, the Viper. Other present day aircraft demonstrated were the McDonnell Douglas/Boeing F-15C "Eagle”, the McDonnell Douglas/Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet and a flyby from a Lockheed F-117A Nighthawk.

Aircraft representing the future of the Air Force were the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor and the CV-22 Osprey, built by Bell Helicopter Textron Inc., and Boeing. The Demonstration by the F-22 Raptor was short but did show some of its climbing and maneuvering abilities. The CV-22 Osprey is truly an amazing aircraft. It can take off vertically and, once airborne, the turboshaft engines one on each wing can rotate into a forward position allowing it to fly like an airplane. This versatile, self-deployable aircraft can do the job of both a helicopter and an aircraft combined.

Some of the aircraft representing the past included from the United States, North American P-51 Mustangs, Chance Vought F4U Corsair, Grumman F8F-2 Bearcat, Grumman F6F Hellcat, Lockheed P-38 Lightning, Douglas AD Skyraider, North American F-86 Sabre and a North American B-25 Mitchell Bomber. From The United Kingdom there was a Hawker Sea Fury, Fairey Firefly Mk. 5 and a Supermarine Spitfire.

There were also Heritage, History and Legacy flights which combined aircraft of different eras. The Air Force Heritage flight was the most diverse with aircraft from ranging the 1940's North American P-51 Mustang to the modern day F-22 Raptor. The U.S. Navy Legacy flight had a Grumman F8F Bearcat, Grumman F6F Hellcat, Douglas AD Skyraider and McDonnell Douglas F/A-18F Super Hornet.

Some of the nation’s top civilian aerobatic pilots that performed demonstrations were; Sean D. Tucker flying his custom built Oracle Challenger biplane, Craig "Brute" Teft flying a Pitts S-2C Biplane, Michael Hunter the world’s only insulin-dependent air show pilot performing aerbatics in a Laser 230 and Bill Reesman flying the Russian built Red Bull Mig-17.

The closing act each day of Aviation Nation is, as always, the United States Air Forces Premier demonstration team, the World Famous Thunderbirds!

On the ground more than 100 military and civilian aircraft were on display including: F-22A Raptors, the Air Force's new CV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft, A-10 Thunderbolt II, B-52 Stratofortress, C-17 Globemaster lll, KC-10 air refueling tanker, X-45 UCAV unmanned reconnaissance vehicle, Douglas DC-3, P-51 Mustangs, T-28 Trojan’s and many more.

Aviation Nation celebrates the history of American aviation and also salutes the recent accomplishments of America’s military in operations around the globe. The air show serves many purposes, it gives recruiters an opportunity to educate interested young men and women about a career in the Air Force and is an excellent opportunity to show what the Air Force and Nellis Air Force Base does for the local community and our country. The Air Show is also a chance for Nellis Air Force Base and the Air Force to say thank you to the general public.
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