Check out this mesmerizing timelapse video of Las Vegas airport

Nov 6, 2019

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It’s not every day that you get to walk on an active taxiway. Or park your car at the end of a runway to watch planes take off and land. But earlier this year, the McCarran International Airport (LAS) in Las Vegas invited us to do just that. 

TPG’s Executive Editorial Director, Scott Mayerowitz, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to spend some time AvGeeking around the airport. So, we packed our camera gear and flew out to Vegas to gamble film some behind-the-scenes action at LAS.

After 36 hours in the desert sun, we came back with some great footage that we’ve put together into a timelapse video. You can watch the timelapse above and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more exciting videos in the future.

For context, McCarran airport is one of the world’s busiest airports and is the gateway to the Las Vegas Strip and Southern Nevada. The airport now offers nonstop service to 156 markets on 35 airlines and counting. Southwest Airlines is the airport’s busiest airline with around 200 daily departures to destinations across the U.S. In fact, the airport is expected to host a record 50 million arriving and departing passengers this year.

We also spent some time with one of the airport’s largest operator of helicopters, Maverick Helicopters. The company offers helicopter tours of the Las Vegas Strip, as well as daily departures to the Grand Canyon National Park.

While filming, we saw a bunch of Janet Boeing 737s around the airport. We were so curious about Janet, the super-secret U.S. government airline, that our aviation reporter, Zach Wichter, decided to write a piece about it.

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It took lots of creativity and strategic engineering to get some of our footage, especially considering that LAS has eight miles of runways and 24 miles of taxiways. For instance, the scene overlooking the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign in the central area of Concourse D was filmed from a 48-foot-high scissor lift. Our overview shots of the airfield came from the ramp control tower.

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The nod says it all⁣ ⁣ ????: @globetrotscott

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For the scene of the airplanes taking off in succession, airport staff drove us to Taxiway A5 at the foot of Runway 26R (the second-longest commercial runway in North America) and mounted our cameras atop the taxiway sign.

We left those cameras running while we went to the international terminal to catch the arrival of KLM’s Boeing 787-9 from Amsterdam. We captured footage of the plane’s arrival and then went into the cargo hold to get the shot of the plane’s cargo being unloaded.

The next morning, we spent a few hours with Southwest Airlines. The airline’s all-Boeing 737 operation may not be exciting to an AvGeek as a KLM widebody, but we nonetheless had some fun with them. We mounted cameras to tugs and saw planes push back from angles that we’ve never seen before. We also went to the “belly” of the airport– the baggage loading area — to follow bags from the belt to the plane.

Are you wondering how many times we rode the airport’s trams to get the perfect shot? Too many. It took us six roundtrips before we got a glare-free shot.

But now that we’ve perfected the airport timelapse, we can’t wait to film some more. Let us know what you thought of this one and what other airports you’d like to see featured!

A huge thanks to the team at LAS for inviting and escorting us around the airport. Specifically, thank you to Christine and Melissa from the PR team for their tireless effort both before and during the video shoot. Also, thank you to Matt Anhalt from Airside Operations for driving us around the airfield (by the way, he posts great airside pics to Instagram for those who’d like more content). 

Thank you to KLM and Southwest Airlines for arranging access to their aircraft and ground facilities. Finally, thank you to TPG UK video team for helping make this package a reality. 

All photos by the author.

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