Plane Spotting at Creech Air Force Base
- What can you see?
Creech Air Force Base is located roughly 1 hour North of Las Vegas in Indian Springs. It is the airfield used by The USAF Thunderbirds for practice throughout the year. Along with the Thunderbirds, it is also home to the UAV drones that the Air Force flies. The surrounding area is littered with targets that range from aircraft to jeeps and tanks. Many of the targets are visible from the highway. Occasionally A-10s from Nellis will use the range at Creech as well as some bombers.
- Where do you go?
Indian Springs is tiny, really tiny. There is a casino, 2 gas stations, a motel and the base. One good spot for watching the Thunderbirds is between the casino and the gas station, behind the motel. The parking lot is almost at the center of the airfield so you are decently close to view the formations the Thunderbirds are practicing.
Also just South of the base there are a few areas that you can pull off Route 95 and watch the practices, as well as a few North of the base also.
The area is pretty open for viewing, if the Thunderbirds are flying you will see them.
What are the best hours to spot?
The Thunderbirds vary the times they practice. Usually they leave Nellis around 10:30am and arrive at Creech 10:45am – 11:00am for an hour long practice run. Outside of that, separate flights take place throughout the day anywhere from one solo to the full diamond will leave Nellis for more flying time. This is during the off season, the winter.
During the season, as noted in 2009, they will generally fly around noon to 1pm for a typical air show demo run. If the Thunderbirds are in Las Vegas, they will practice daily. The only exception to this are the two days prior to the Nellis Air Show, which they practice at Nellis(refer to Nellis Air Force Base plane spotting).
Before going to Creech, check the Creech Air Force Base NOTAMs which will show if the Thunderbirds are scheduled for a full practice. If no listing is on the NOTAMs, then it is hit or miss as to when and how many Thunderbirds will be flying. The NOTAMs are also valuable for large drone activities.
Creech’s ICAO is – KINS which needs to be typed into the search box on the NOTAM website.
Approximate gps for the parking lot mentioned above – N 36.57873,W -115.672131
If you are driving from Vegas, the town of Mercury is a short drive past Indian Springs. Mercury is 100% secured, but is worth the trip to see. It is a very historic town, without it we would not have won WWII.