Las Vegas Centennial Celebration Honors 85th Anniversary of Flight Over Las Vegas

Boyd Gaming Sponsors Unique Las Vegas Aerial Parade Over the Strip With Warbirds and Vintage Aircraft to Mark City’s 100th Anniversary Celebration – May 7, 2005

LAS VEGAS, May 7 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — To mark the special 100th Anniversary of Las Vegas, Boyd Gaming Corporation (NYSE:BYD) will be sponsoring a unique flyover of rare vintage aircraft and WWII Warbirds over the world famous Las Vegas Strip. The rare sight will be part of a series of events commemorating the special anniversary in tandem with another important milestone, the 85th Anniversary of flight in the city. A special flyover the Las Vegas Strip is scheduled to take place on Saturday, May 7, 2005 at 10:00 a.m. with more than 20 aircraft participating.

“Las Vegas has grown so tremendously due to aviation and I’m very pleased we’re getting a chance to honor the anniversary of flight in the city,” says Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman. “I’ve witnessed a lot of memorable things over the last couple weeks honoring the Las Vegas Centennial, but seeing those aircraft fly right above the Strip will be quite a sight.”

The specially-orchestrated flyover will in part honor newspaper publisher turned aviation pioneer Randall Henderson. A WWI pilot and barnstormer, Mr. Henderson became the first person to fly into Las Vegas when he completed a flight from Blythe, California to the then small desert town of Las Vegas, Nevada on May 7, 1920. When Henderson arrived in Las Vegas 85 years ago in his wood-and-fabric-construction WWI surplus Curtis Jenny JN-4H two-seat pilot trainer, he landed at a desert roadhouse near the Los Angeles Highway. This same highway would one day become better known as the Las Vegas Strip and the roadhouse would give way to downtown Las Vegas.

Mr. Henderson quickly set up his barnstorming sideshow in a nearby field, offering rides for paying customers, many of who never flown before. One of those people was Jake Beckley, a store owner in Blythe. He was Mr. Henderson’s passenger on a flight from Blythe to Las Vegas and requested the pair fly over his brother’s nearby home, so he could drop a doll from the plane to his niece. The initial flight created such frenzy that when the doll was tossed from the plane by Beckley, the crowd of amazed onlookers fought over the prize. The doll’s dress can still be viewed today in the Clark County Museum as a small memento to mark the occasion.

Other notable events occurred during Las Vegas’ first introduction to flight. When Mr. Henderson was giving a local Piute Indian chief a trip in the Las Vegas skies, the Indian chief nearly crashed the plane when he fainted in surprise from the dizzying heights. Unconscious, the Indian chief inadvertently leaned on his control stick and brought the plane diving down toward the ground. Because the Curtis Jenny was a trainer, it had control sticks in both its front and rear cockpits, instead of just in the rear compartment. Thankfully, Mr. Henderson was able to accomplish some intricate maneuvering to free up the controls and make a safe landing.

Mishaps aside, Mr. Henderson gave several people rides up in the biplane and the residents buzzed for months about the man who brought the first plane to Las Vegas. The occasion would be a first for a city that would grow tremendously from the aviation industry. Each year, Las Vegas greets more than 41 million visitors who travel to the city by aircraft at the nearby McCarran International Airport.

“When we were kicking around ideas for Centennial events, we contacted Mark Hall-Patton, administrator at Clark County’s Cannon Aviation Museum at McCarran International Airport,” says Dan Stark, Director of Marketing for Boyd Gaming. “After some research, we found it actually was the 85th Anniversary of flight for the city and we thought it would be a great tie-in as part of the celebration.”

The Las Vegas Centennial is a yearlong celebration that will pay tribute to the exciting people, places and events that helped shape Las Vegas history since 110 acres was purchased near the first railroad in a land auction nearly a century ago. Hundreds of events are taking place throughout 2005 to commemorate the Centennial including building the World’s Largest Birthday Cake weighing in at 130,000 pounds, Once Upon 100 Weddings promotion and the 100 Murals initiative that is creating more than 100 permanent pieces of art throughout the community. For details about the Las Vegas Centennial, visit

Headquartered in Las Vegas, Boyd Gaming Corporation (NYSE:BYD) is a leading diversified owner and operator of 18 gaming entertainment properties, plus one under development, located in Nevada, New Jersey, Mississippi, Illinois, Indiana and Louisiana. Boyd Gaming press releases are available at Additional news and information on Boyd Gaming can be found at

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