In the Beginning
Aviation first came to Las Vegas in 1920. Randall Henderson, well-known as a newspaper publisher in Blythe, California, and later as the founder and editor of Desert magazine, is less known for his aviation barnstorming career. However, flying a borrowed Curtis JN-4 “Jenny”, Henderson became the first pilot to land in Las Vegas when he landed on May 7. The museum tells this and other aviation-related stories in exhibits located throughout McCarran. If you have a few minutes between flights or have some extra time before picking up friends and family, check it out. You won't be disappointed.
The museum is named for Nevada’s U. S. Senator Howard W. Cannon, who served four terms in the Senate from 1958 until 1982. Among his accomplishments was the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978, which led to a doubling of commercial traffic into McCarran International Airport between 1978 and 1980, and helped to create the commercial airline industry we know today.
The World Endurance Flight
Only one aircraft is shown in the museum, a 1958 Cessna 172 which set the World Endurance Aloft flying record in 1959. Flying for 64 days, 22 hours, 19 minutes and 5 seconds without touching ground, fliers Robert Timm and John Cook set a record which stands to this day. The flight was sponsored by the Hacienda Hotel and Casino as a fundraiser for the Damon Runyon Cancer Fund. Breaking the previous 50-day record, Timm and Cook’s flight still stands in the record books. The actual aircraft hangs over the north end of baggage claim at Terminal 1.
The Red Thunderbird
At Terminal 1, between the main exhibit area and the Cessna, is a red 1956 Ford Thunderbird, also part of the museum’s exhibits. It is the same year and make as the one used at George Crockett’s Alamo Aviation from 1957 until 1968, when it was the fixed base operation at McCarran International Airport, and has been restored to match the original.
The Exhibit Locations
The museum’s exhibits are spread throughout several airports in the Clark County Airport System, with the main exhibit on Level 2 above baggage claim at Terminal 1 at McCarran International Airport. Covering approximately 3,000 square feet, exhibits detail the rich aviation history of southern Nevada. Other exhibits are located in the gate areas, ticketing and along the moving walkway in the C Gates.
The Howard W. Cannon Aviation Museum is administered through the Clark County Museum system, and can be reached with questions at (702) 455-7968. The exhibit areas in all airports are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week year round. Except for those exhibits which are in the gate areas in McCarran International Airport, all exhibits can be viewed by any visitors to the airports. As the most visited museum complex in Nevada, the Howard W. Cannon Aviation Museum provides the fascinating story of aviation in southern Nevada, and welcomes visitors.