Browsing Posts published by Hank Plumley

Photography by Hank Plumley website

Rachel Nevada is home to the Nellis Bombing and Gunnery Ranges which are better known as Area 51. For anyone that has even the remotest interest in aviation, they have heard of Area 51. The town of Rachel is a three hour drive North from Las Vegas in the Tikaboo Valley on Route 375, Extraterrestrial Highway.Extraterrestrial Highway sign at the junction of Route 375 and Route 95 near Alamo, Nevada

As you leave I-15 for Route 93, you are suddenly thrown into the desolation of the Nevada landscape. There are only two towns along the way, Ash Springs and Alamo. If you are heading out this way it’s a good idea to get gas at Alamo, no gas is to be found in Rachel. As you depart the gas station at Alamo it’s a short drive to the Route 375 junction. Once on 375 the first photo op is on the right at the Extraterrestrial Highway sign, if it is still there. Souvenir hunters like snatching the sign from time to time.

The pull of in front of the sign is also an area where workers from Area 51 get picked up by buses and shuttled into the base. From the amount of cars parked here you can get an idea of work activity at the base. Although the majority of workers are flown in from Las Vegas, allegedly.

The next stop along the way is the UFO Researchers building on the left a short drive up the road. You can’t miss it, it has a five story metallic alien in front of it.

The resUFO Research building and five story alien near Rachel Nevada on Route 375 photot of the drive is pretty straight forward desert landscape. Once you hit the summit you will see the valley below you and Main Gate Road heading straight into the horizon. It’s a gravel road that is usually in excellent shape and can be traveled on by a car. This is the road to take if you want to see the border, warning signs and the ever present “cammo dudes” or base security. Little warning, do not try to cross the border into the base, you will be detained until Nye County Sheriff arrives and checks you out. I imagine they will detain you for a good amount of time also. The border and base are not things you can happen upon, you have to know where you are going to get there so the security take border crossings very seriously, but there is know top secret base there, lol.

Rachel Nevada is a few miles from Main Gate Road, don’t blink or you’ll miss it. The town is comprised of some trailers and houses and the Little Ale’Inn Little AleInn on Route 375 in Rachel Nevada photo by Hank Plumleybar, eatery, museum and souvenir shop. The food is great, I recommend the famous Alien Burger, very tasty. While Rachel’s biggest claim to fame is Area 51, it is also a great location for plane spotting during Red Flag exercises conducted by Nellis Air Force Base. You will be able to see a wide variety of aircraft coming and going to the ranges. Often sonic booms are heard as the fighters conducted supersonic training during Red Flag. The fighters are usually low and fast around the area, so be prepared, they sneak up you fast ! Dreamland Resort is a great resource for Red Flag and Rachel trip reports, check them out before you go.

If you are going to Rachel in the summer be prepared for heat. It can get well past 100 degrees so bring a good bit of water, especially if you want to hike to get a better view of the fighters. In the winter in can dip below zero with a good bit of snow.

Area 51 Warning Signs on Main Gate Road in Rachel Nevada photo by Hank Plumley

Photography by Hank Plumley website

E-6 Sentry AWACS arrives at Nellis Air Force Base before a Red Flag exercise photo by Hank PlumleyUploaded Red Flag photos to the gallery. For me, this is one the most exciting topics to cover as a photographer. Aviation is a huge interest and has been for most of my life. Using photography to capture the moments at an airshow is special, using it for coverage of a Red Flag exercise is amazing.

Red Flag is the name given to the United States Air Force training exercises held at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Nevada. They run roughly four Red Flags a year. They also host Green Flag and Maple Flag exercises which include Fort Irwin army base and Canadian Forces respectively.

Each Red Flag is different in the list of participating units. The usual playersF-15D Eagle returns to Nellis Air Force Base with air brake deployed photo by Hank Plumley include KC-135s, AWACS, F-16 Fighting Falcons and F-15 Strike Eagles. The last Red Flag I attended was in March 2010 and the players were varied a great deal. F/A-18 Hornets, Harriers and B1-B Lancers were some of a large sampling of aircraft taking part.

I should make note that I attended Red Flag like anyone else can, from the areas around Nellis Air Force Base. I have included GPS on my photos so you can find the locations if you are going to Nellis for some plane spotting.

Even though Red Flag is almost a guarantee for plane spotting, normal day Squadron of F-15 Strike Eagles returning to Nellis Air Force Base during Red Flag photo by Hank Plumleyto day operations at Nellis offer very good plane spotting as well. While I was in Vegas I was usually hanging out around Nellis. The sight of F-15s taking to the sky never became dull. To see F-22 Raptors roaring into the air was  something to see. The base is usually a hive of activity on any given day.

For more information on Red Flag History please visit my site. On my blog I have a page I will update on Red and Green Flag schedules and players as the information is released.

Enjoy !

Photography by Hank Plumley website


The first of many update posts. Added Valley of Fire photos to the photography by Hank Plumley photo gallery.

One horned mountain goat in Valley of Fire State Park, Overton, Nevada photo by Hank PlumleyValley of Fire State Park is located in Overton, Nevada about a one hour drive North of Las Vegas. The park is Nevada’s first and oldest state park. The park has seen many settlers make their homes in the area, all of which have disappeared from the area. The Valley was the location of a large lake millions of years which is the cause of the sandstone deposits that make the splendid colors you will see when you visit. The park offers camping, hiking, picnicking, and biking. The visitors center has a wealth of information on the history of the area as well as information on the natural inhabitants of the park.

Pointers Rock formation in Valley of Fire State Park, Overton, Nevada photo by Hank PlumleyThe beauty of Valley of Fire State Park is amazing. From deep rust colors to vibrant yellow and greens are abundant, and I am speaking of the rock formations! During the summer there is little plant life that survives, but where it does it adds a nice contrast to the rocky scenery. Fall, Winter, and Spring offer better variety of brush and flowers in the Valley. The summer is the best time to see why the park has gotten it’s name. Make sure to bring a good deal of water if you visit in the summer, if not, you will regret it.

Scenic drive through the mountains in Valley of Fire State Park, Overton, Nevada photo by Hank PlumleyThere are so many photo ops in the park it’s hard to choose where to start. When arriving from I-15, you have a splendid drive to the entrance through a desert plain then a canyon. Rarely did I make it to the entrance without stopping for pictures. Once inside the park it’s like fishing in a bucket. The views and rock formations come at you from every direction. Thank god for the park map, otherwise I would have been doing circles for days instead of hours.

So if you get the chance to visit Las Vegas, make a day trip to The Valley of Fire State Park. It is worth the trip to see nature’s beauty of the desert.

As always, enjoy !

Well, never did I realize that rebuilding could be so much fun. Due to unforeseen issues, my former site, blog and gallery had to be rebuilt from scratch. So, rolling up my sleeves, I dove right in and began the task.

So far I have a new website, Photography by Hank Plumley that is far easier to navigate and use and am working on my Gallery 3 installation now. Soon will be back to updating you all on the new pictures I will be capturing.

For now here are some free use pictures from the new site:

Keep checking back for more info as I will chronicle my rebuilding here.

Thanks for reading and enjoy !

Pit road busy during the March 2007 Sam's Town 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway


Ryan Newman in the pits during the 2007 3M Performance 400 at MIS


New York New York Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada

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