Guns, fireworks on center stage at secretive Desert Blast — Part 2

Military Tech

A strange and secret ritual played out in a remote location during the 1990s.  The exact dates and locations changed during the 13 years when Desert Blast was held in Southern Nevada. Fireworks experts, gun enthusiasts, rocket scientists and daredevil pilots gathered in relative secrecy to have fun and show off. You had to know someone to get invited, but it was an event the participants would never forget. Investigative reporter George Knapp was there. Aired on KLAS TV on May 24, 1999. Part 2 of a 2 Part series.


The barrage of 50 flares launched into the night sky was one of the milder events at the 1999 version of Desert Blast, and it was spectacular. The event kicked off with an all-day volley of assorted weapons fire and evolved into a fireworks free-for-all as the sun set.

A man setting up for the event talked as he worked: “This is a large shell, 12-inch shell, that goes in there. And it when it comes out, it just launches out of there with sectional lift pattern and it goes way up in the sky and blows.”

Some of the fireworks are homemade. Some are commercial products. Once the bombardment begins, it continues unabated for hours and hours and includes far more displays than any Fourth of July show you’ve ever seen.

There are other evening attractions, including a competition for Miss Desert Blast, where contestants display their love of machines guns. The most chic way to get around the lake at night is by jet-powered go-kart. And thank goodness someone remembered to bring a flamethrower.

One man even donned a suit will all sorts of fireworks affixed, and danced for the crowd as the pyrotechnics engulfed him.

“All of this stuff when used properly is probably a lot safer here than going to a ballgame,” said one person in attendance.

But a ballgame usually doesn’t feature a flaming wall of death. And no ballpark has ever seen 4,000 pounds of rocket fuel and a ton of magnesium ignited at once.


Previous story: Desert Blast draws crowd to secretive pyrotechnic orgy — Part 1

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