The A380’s Never Saw Las Vegas

When I first arrived in Las Vegas, I was a chauffeur on the Strip. As a blossoming aviation geek (AvGeek), I loved being sent to the airport for an inbound international flight. That meant I would have time to just sit and ogle all the cool jets coming and going.  Especially the Queen of the Skies, the Boeing 747. That was my all-time favorite plane to spot.

I swear I used to be able to set my watch by the landing of British Airways 747 into Las Vegas.  The wheels would cross the fence line on Eastern Ave at exactly 4:45 pm almost every Mondy, Wednesday, and Friday. I’m not sure if it was always the same pilot, but whoever it was, they were the most dependable, on-time flight at McCarran!

In 2007 Airbus introduced the Airbus A380.  A widebody jet they thought could beat the 747 in size, capacity, and travel business.  However, the one problem with the jet was with its weight, its wide-body, and massive Rolls-Royce engines, it was limited to only a few airports here in the USA.

This limitation was mainly due to the turbulence caused as this massive piece of flying machinery came in for a landing.  No other jets could be anywhere near its flight path. Not to mention what it took to maneuver this beast around the tarmac!

McCarran International Airport (LAS), with its closeness to population, surrounded by tall buildings, as well as just being a very busy airport, banned the plane from landing here except for emergency purposes.

Airbus A380

Two Skybridges to help load and unload mega jets faster

However, when constructing the new terminal three in 2012, they took into consideration the future of the jumbo jet and built two gates specifically to serve an A380 or similar jet.  They built the gates with two skybridges. The A380 at 550 to 800 passengers, is truly a double-decker plane and would need at least two jetways for faster loading and unloading.  I bet you never noticed that, did you??

The A380 Never Landed Here

Las Vegas, with its millions of tourists from all over the world flying in here, we see just about every type of plane imaginable from every corner of the globe. Even the Concorde and the Russian Antonov An-225 Mriya — flew into McCarran.

Being Las Vegas and being the entertainment capital of the world, you would expect that such a plane like the A380 would have made at least one appearance here.  But nope!  The A380 has never landed here.

However, they do/did land into LAX.  In 2018, Los Angeles International Airport was handling on average, about 14 A380 flights per day.  Being Las Vegas and being located in the middle of the Mojave desert, we are designated as an emergency landing field for LAX and we could handle the A380’s.

I actually got excited last year when I heard there was a chance to finally see one here in Las Vegas.  Right before COVID hit, there was a request made by British Airlines to have two of them land here as a charter for CES Weekend.  This was to be a test for future scheduled flights.  But obviously, that never happened.  Both Virgin and BA have since mothballed or sold all of their A380’s and almost all of their 747’s. So no need to talk about that!

Emirates A380

That’s just one huge piece of flying engineering!!

The A380 will Never Land Here

With COVID lockdowns, the near-death of air travel, and now the ingrained fear of ever being able to sit or stand next to another person, the need for such a large jet no longer exists.

The last A380 rolled off the assembly line in France in August of 2020.  Of the 272 built since 2005,  Emirates, the airline owned by the government of Dubai, owns 122 of them and is taking delivery in November of the final three planes ever built.

With over half of the A380’s existing being owned by an airline that doesn’t fly into Las Vegas and the other airlines mothballing or scraping them as we speak, that makes the chances of Las Vegas-based AVgeeks seeing this big bird land here slim to none. And that’s kinda sad to know…

Boeing 747:
1969 – 2022
1,565 built

Airbus A380
2005 – 2021
272 built

Am I the only one who is sad to not see this in Las Vegas?

 

Let’s call it the Las Vegas International Airport!

The Las Vegas International Airport

The Clark County Division of Aviation, the people who run McCarran International Airport, (more commonly called the Las Vegas Airport) has now decided that they, after all these years, need to change its name.  Why?  Because suddenly the man it’s named after, Senator Pat McCarran has been discovered to be… wait for it… a racist!

What’s worse is that they want to rename it for a truly despicable and truly racist senator who is living in a time when we know racism is a bad thing.  They want to rename our main airport for the race-baiting Senator Harry Reid!! 

I know, shocking, isn’t it. A man who lived in the time when racism was a fact of life, is being demonized in order to be replaced by a man who is a racist in a time we know that it’s WRONG!  But the Democratic leaders in this state think it’s a better name.  Welcome to the great State of Nevada! 

I’m not a fan of rewriting history to appease some small group of people. And in this case, I am certainly not in favor of the name change for the simple reason is that it doesn’t make sense. You are wanting to rename an international airport because you think the man it’s named after was a racist in a time of racism, and you want to rename it for a man who used race as a political weapon when we know racism is wrong. How is that better??

 

McCarran International Airport

The airport most Las Vegas-bound tourists fly into is actually called The McCarren International Airport. It opened in 1948 and was given that name to honor the late Senator from Nevada, US Senator Pat McCarran. A member of the Democratic Party who contributed greatly to the development of aviation both in Las Vegas and the United States.

He’s the one who got Las Vegas to be the home to what is now known as Nellis Air Force Base and all the other projects that have come along because we are home to one of the most sophisticated Military pilot training bases in the world. This man’s actions resulted in thousands of new businesses being created. The airbase is always creating new technology that is adding thousands of new jobs and businesses into the Las Vegas economy annually.

And now they want to take that away for the sake of social politics.

Senator McCarran’s influence in aviation is legendary. He helped create the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB), the precursor to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).  He was one of the legislators who pushed for the creation of the United States Air Force and he was instrumental in bringing what is now called Nellis Air Base to Las Vegas.

If it were not for Senator McCarran, we might not be home to the US Air Force Thunderbirds, The nuclear test site, and of course, Area 51. His importance to the aviation industry and to the Las Vegas aviation community (and our economy) can not be stressed enough. He did great things for ALL the people in this region.

 Yes, he lived in a time when racism was normal, it was part of everyday life.  So yes, how he lived, what he did, and how he reacted to events in his life when looked at and judged by our view of life today, could be seen as being racist. Dah! It’s how people lived back then.

In reality, some of what Senator McCarran accomplished could be seen as anything but being a racist. And that may explain the need for the democratic party to expunge his name from the history books. He did something to help the people he represented and that goes against the modern-day Democratic playbook.  

The Man Did Great Things

In 1952, Senator McCarran was co-sponsor of the McCarran–Walter Act, a law that abolished racial restrictions found in United States immigration and naturalization statutes going back to the Naturalization Act of 1790. He fixed a 230-year-old wrong. And it also imposed more rigid restrictions on quotas for immigrants entering the United States. It also stiffened the existing law relating to the admission, exclusion, and deportation of dangerous aliens under the McCarran Internal Security Act.

The Alternative is a New Version of the Old Version

Now, in replace of this man who did so much for this city and state, they want to rename this airport for a man who used race as a political tool at his command. A man who has done more harm to this region’s economy, than overall good.  A man who orchestrated the racial division in America that is still active today. He made the use of race the central part of how election campaigns are run today. 

Do they want to rename the Las Vegas international airport in “honor” of the former United States Senator from Nevada, Harry Reid?? What a joke!   Remember how Harry Reid described Obama? 

In his own words, Harry Reid described Obama as a “light-skinned African American ‘with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one”  – If that came from almost anyone else, they would have been tarred and feathered.  But not for Harry… That was his normal.

Living in Las Vegas, I have heard from others who know Harry and they all said basically the same thing “and?”  Meaning, for Harry Reid, that was pretty much normal language for him, the racist from Nevada.  

 

Let’s Not and Do This Instead

How about we not do that and just give it the name most people call it? Name it The Las Vegas International Airport!  Who can be offended by that?  And it works. Ok! No politics, no games. The name makes sense. It’s a simple, generic name that a lot of people use to describe the airport anyways.

If you are serious about changing the name of the international airport that serves the Las Vegas valley, that’s the best, drama-free name for it.

50 Million Gets Las Vegas a New Airport (video)

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With over 50 million passengers going through Las Vegas McCarren International airport last year, that triggered a restart for the stalled Ivanpah Valley Airport Project.

That’s right, the long-planned, much needed, and previously stalled plans for a second Las Vegas international airport are back in play and it’s going to be at the very southern end of Las Vegas Boulevard. Serious, the southern end of the road…

The spot for the airport is about thirty miles from where the main airport (McCarren International) is now. It’s actually closer to the California border than it is to the city it will serve. The location is only five miles to the California state line and the border town of Primm, Nevada.

Don’t worry, the planned high-speed rail line already has plans for a terminal to be built there!!

The current airport was opened in 1942 and at the time, many people thought it was too far from Downtown las Vegas!  Now it sits surrounded by homes, businesses, and heavy traffic from both vehicles and aircraft! So back in the 1990’s, they began to figure out plans to replace the airport and they landed on 6,000 acres of open, barren government desert land south of Las Vegas.

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las vegas 2nd airport

The Magic Numbers

In the early 2000’s, Clark County Aviation Department, built terminal three. A reliever terminal for the already crowded terminal one and the totally obsolete terminal two. Terminal three is state of the art, is able to handle the largest of the passenger jets, the Boing 747 and the Airbus A380. As well as being easy to reconfigure as needs change.

Terminal three gave the airport a little more time to max out its capacity at 55 million passengers a year.  The idea was to open a second airport, move the cargo jets, and the long haul/heavy jets out to more open spaces first.  Like Ivanpah Valley.

McCarren International Airport (2019)

  • 8th busiest airport in the United States
  • 30 busiest airport in the world

The planners made the decision that once McCarron hit 95% of its capacity (50 million passengers) then the project for the new airport would kick in.  We hit that mark in 2019 and they were predicting we would pass it in 2020 had the pandemic not hit.

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