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It’s a bird, it’s a plane, yep, it’s a plane

The plane truth: Southern Nevada’s affinity for high-flying fun emerges once again when Aviation Nation 2008 takes flight Saturday and Sunday at Nellis Air Force Base.

The largest free public event in the Silver State, the annual Aviation Nation attracts thousands of visitors — about 200,000 last year, Nellis officials estimate — to a two-day program featuring daring aerial demonstrations, plus military and civilian ground displays featuring more than a hundred aircraft.

The Air Force’s Thunderbirds lead the military demonstration team lineup; several civilian teams also are scheduled to participate.

With a "21st Century Air Force" theme, this year’s Aviation Nation traces the history of aviation — from air to space to cyberspace — through displays featuring early planes and the latest military aircraft.

Visitors also will have the chance to meet veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts — and see their aircraft.

Also on the schedule: historical displays, community exhibits and a Kids’ Zone. Food, beverages and novelties will be available for purchase.

Those planning to attend Aviation Nation 2008 must park at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway and ride shuttle buses to and from Nellis. (Special handicapped parking and handicapped-accessible shuttles will be available at the speedway.)

A $3 donation per person (ages 10 and up) and $1 per child (younger than 10) is requested for the round-trip bus transportation; donations will benefit the nonprofit Aviation Nation Foundation, which supports the air show. (This year, the Regional Transportation Commission has canceled Citizens Area Transit bus service to the speedway from the Downtown Transportation Center.)

Spectators must ride shuttles to and from the speedway and clear security checkpoints to attend the show; visitors are subject to search. The public will not be allowed to walk onto Nellis Air Force Base.

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