Mark Hall-Patton

Sightseeing Airlines

Many visitors to Las Vegas take sightseeing air flights to the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam. What may be surprising is that these flight destinations have been popular since the 1930s.

North Las Vegas Air Terminal

The North Las Vegas Airport opened as Sky Haven Airport on December 7, 1941. The airport, the creation of John and Florence Murphy and their partner, John Barrett, was celebrating its opening day when news of the air raid on Pearl Harbor came. The scheduled flying demonstration was immediately put on hold as the nation progressed to war.

Nevada Airlines

Nevada's first airline was actually based in Los Angeles, and was the brainchild of a mining entrepreneur and racing pilot. Named for the state, the short-lived effort connected Reno and Las Vegas over 400 miles of desolate desert and bad roads for a short time, but showed promise for the future.

McCarran International Airport

McCarran International Airport is central to the long history of aviation in Clark County. It is the second airport to bear the name of Nevada's first native-born United States senator, and today it accounts for nearly sixty percent of all visitors to Las Vegas.

Las Vegas Army Air Base

Las Vegas has long used the warmth of its desert sun to entice residents and businesses. In January 1941, that climate and location attracted the United States Army Air Corps.

Howard W. Cannon and Deregulation

Nevada has played a crucial role in the creation of modern commercial aviation. In 1978, United States Senator Howard W. Cannon successfully sponsored the first bill deregulating the commercial airline industry, changing forever the face of aviation as we know it.

In 1934, Cannon became interested in flying while working on a law degree from the University of Arizona. In World War II, he served as a second lieutenant with the 440th Troop Carrier Group. After the war, Cannon continued to serve in the reserves, and retired as a major general.

Casino Shuttle Airlines

One part of commercial aviation history unique to Nevada is the gambling shuttle airline. Originally created to fill hotel rooms and gaming floors, this type of airline later changed through the use of individual chartered flights and "high roller" aircraft.

Bonanza Airlines

The first all-jet powered airline in the United States was Las Vegas-based Bonanza Air Lines. Though the milestone was not reached until 1960, the airline began as part of an experiment in post-World War II commercial aviation service.

Western Air Express

The first and, for many years, the largest commercial airline to serve Las Vegas, Western Air Express was instrumental in putting Las Vegas on the commercial airlines map. Las Vegas had the good fortune to lie on a natural air route between Los Angeles and Salt Lake City.

In 1925, the federal Kelly Act spurred the growth of U.S. air travel by creating a national network of airmail routes to be operated by private couriers.


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