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Landing in Las Vegas: Commercial Aviation and the Making of a Tourist City Hardcover – May 1 2012
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“This book presents a case study exemplifying a dominant theme of the twentieth-century American West—the triumph of technology over nature, space, and time. No other book so clearly demonstrates the close historic ties between the commercial passenger aviation industry and the economic growth and vitality of Las Vegas in the broader context of aviation history and the history of the American West.” -- Daniel Rust, author of Flying Across America: The Airline Passenger Experience
“Landing in Las Vegas is of considerable significance and well-handled. It explores the important issue of commercial aeronautical policy in both a regional and national setting, as well as the incursion of international travel to Las Vegas in the 1970s. This is an important subject that has not received the attention it deserves.” -- Roger Launius, senior curator of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum
About the Author
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
"Landing in Las Vegas: Commercial Aviation and the Making of a Tourist City" explores the manner in which the city of Las Vegas used the advancing technology of aeronautics and airlines from the 1920s to the present to support and even to make possible the rising tourist market in the city, especially its gaming industry. It focuses on the tight and complex relations between technology development, airline management, tourism, gaming, and building development.
Through this case study, we learn much about the important issue of commercial aeronautical policy in both a regional and national setting, as well as the incursion of international travel to Las Vegas in the 1970s. This is a significant area that has not received the attention it deserves, one that is becoming more important with every passing day. It also explores the nexus between politics, economics, and technology, and in doing so the author makes a genuine contribution to the scholarly literature, especially with the emphasis on the urban history and tourism aspects of this relationship.
Bubb approaches his subject in a narrative fashion, with a combination of chronology and topics defining the study. He makes an important contribution to the historiography of the American West by marrying the issue of air transportation, itself understudied by historians, with the issue of gaming and tourism. The result is a very helpful study that deals with a significant twentieth century development in the West and its relation to air travel as a means for its growth and development
Result is a work that speaks to several different audiences. The first is the regional history readership relative to the American West. The story is one that moves the study of western history from its preoccupation with the nineteenth century into the modern era. A second audience is urban history, where this book helps to unpack some of the key issues in modern urban history. A third audience is those interested in aerospace history, where the story of the technology and its use in modern America has great interest. Enjoy!
By following the history of commercial aviation in Las Vegas, Bubb makes a convincing case. When commercial flights first arrived in Las Vegas in the mid-1920s, they were carrying mail between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles. Las Vegas was an old railroad refueling stop and not much more. The mail planes just needed an airstrip and a place to refuel so they could be on their way again. When the airlines began to take paying passengers aboard, enterprising Las Vegans realized they could sell these visitors more than fuel and a few beers. Hotel resorts started going up, replacing the rougher hotels that were little more than saloons. The new hotels had restaurants, live music, swamp coolers (a kind of air conditioning), and slot machines. People began to make Las Vegas their destination rather than just an unavoidable overnight stop.
Arriving by air, even when air travel was in open biplanes that flew at low and turbulent altitudes, was still better than trying to drive to Las Vegas in the 1920s and 1930s. Parts of the road from Los Angeles were not paved, there was no air conditioning in cars yet, and there were few roadside services.
Bubb also details Senator Pat McCarran's successes in getting federal funds for expanding the airport and establishing an Air Force base in Las Vegas. The story continues through the Second World War and into the jet age up to the present day.
Landing in Las Vegas is a short book at 124 pages of text and photos. There's plenty of documentation, footnotes, and sources. In addition to an original interpretation of the rise of Las Vegas, Bubb includes many intriguing details, such as the story of the first woman passenger to arrive in Las Vegas by air. Maude Campbell was a telephone supervisor from Salt Lake City who wanted to visit Southern California. She "paid $90 to fly round trip to Los Angeles on June 10, 1926, with an overnight stop in Las Vegas. The flight took six hours and fifty minutes each way... Campbell donned a flight suit, golf knickers, and a parachute, sat on mailbags for the entire flight. If anything catastrophic happened to the plane en route, she was told, she should jump, count to three, and pull the cord." With Americans willing to take such risks just to travel by air, a gambling resort must have seemed a sure bet.
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