Every fall, Nellis Air Force Base hosts Aviation Nation on the outskirts of Las Vegas. This event invites children, community members, and aviation enthusiasts to learn about the field of aviation and the military. The 2022 event was the first event in two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since 2002, visitors have traveled to Clark County, Nevada to observe the annual air show featuring the United States Air Force Thunderbirds. Headquartered at Nellis Air Force Base, this group of Air Force pilots performed alongside other aircraft piloted by civilians. Visitors at the event also toured static displays of aircraft and liaised with community vendors.

Against the backdrop of the Air Force’s 75th anniversary and the 247th anniversary of the Marine Corps, both military branches were in attendance to showcase their respective capabilities to the public and connect with visitors.

8th Marine Corps District Marines set up a virtual reality gaming setup called Battle Position for the first time at Aviation Nation. This system introduced civilians to virtual pugil stick fighting and proved popular with guests of all ages. Over 100 attendees visited the Marine Corps booth to get a hands-on experience with the Battle Position as well as conduct pull-up bar challenges.

A Marine Pilot also provided a high-tech aviation experience to visitors with an on-site mobile flying simulator. Marine Aviator Captain Caleb “Toe” Knapp was on-hand to assist visitors to operate a flight simulator and answered questions from visitors about the Marine aviation program. The Marine Corps is the only branch that can guarantee qualified students to fly for the Marine Corps upon graduation from college and The Basic School.

If you are interested in learning about opportunities within the Marine Corps, please visit https://marines.com/officer.


This piece is written by Capt. Obakai Grandisson from the 8th Marine Corps District. Want to feature your story? Reach out to us at [email protected].