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How Las Vegas Became Home to Nellis Air Force Base

The first airport in Las Vegas was Anderson Field, opened in 1920 on the southeast corner of what is now Sahara and Paradise. It was renamed Rockwell Field in 1928 and the lease expired in 1929.

At the end of the Korean War, Nellis Air Force Base had expanded exponentially since its pre-World War II days, as seen here in 1956.

What we now know as Nellis Air Force Base traces its physical origins to a new airfield built in 1929 by W.A. “Pop” Simon eight miles northeast of Las Vegas along US 91, the Salt Lake City Highway. This was initially known as the Las Vegas Airport.

In 1933, the airfield was bought by Western Air Express, and was a primary passenger and mail stop on the Los Angeles-Salt Lake City route.

In the fall of 1940, the airfield was surveyed for use as an Army Air Forces Flexible Gunnery School to teach aerial gunners, who would fly the B-17 Flying Fortress into combat. The city of Las Vegas bought the field on Jan. 2, 1941, for $10, and on Jan. 5, 1941, the U.S. Army leased the field. Initially, the airfield was a dual-use facility, with one side operating as McCarran Airport. Construction on the military side started in March 1941, and Las Vegas Army Air Field was dedicated in October 1941. The first class started training January 1942… read more >

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