After a full week of performances, static aircraft displays, and all the logistics and support needed to make an event like the Feria Internacional del Aire y del Espacio (FIDAE) happen, the American Airmen return home after creating lasting memories and partnerships in Santiago, Chile, April 5-10, 2022.
As the fifth largest air and trade show in the world and the largest in Latin America, FIDAE brought together 46 countries to promote the development of aerospace, defense and security for the first time in four years, with the pandemic prompting a cancellation of the last iteration of the biannual event two years ago.
“[FIDAE] reopens after the forced break caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said General Arturo Merino, Commander-in-Chief of the Chilean Air Force (FACh). “With renewed energy, we are determined to use this adversity as an opportunity that will allow us to cooperate in the resumption of activities in the [defense] sector.”
The week was filled with bilateral engagements and opportunities to strengthen U.S. partnerships with other countries, including the host of FIDAE.
Mid-week, five FACh aircrew received an orientation flight in the Nevada Air National Guard C-130H, which they brought to FIDAE as a static display to showcase a unique modification from the plane. Instead of the traditional four-blade propeller featured on most C-130H models, the Nevada Air National Guard C-130 is equipped with NP-2000 8-blade propellers, giving it extra thrust and reducing the maintenance time and costs. FACh will add NP-2000 propellers to part of its C-130 fleet in the coming months.
Additionally, the Wings of Blue parachute display team from the US Air Force Academy performed daily jumps from a FACh CASA 212 aircraft alongside the Chilean parachute display team, the Boinas Azules (Blue Berets) . In a show of partnership, the last two jumpers out of the plane each day, one from each country, flew their respective country’s flag below them as they glided through the air descending towards the area of dropping.
“It’s been an incredible experience to be able to combine what we love to do, skydiving, with leadership lessons on an international scale,” said Wings of Blue team member Cadet 2nd Class Baileigh McFall. “Protests are always fun, but it’s not every day that you see a working relationship between two nations forming. In 20 years, I will no longer remember the parachute jump, but I will remember the international partnership.
In addition to the Nevada Air National Guard and Wings of Blue, the U.S. Air Force delegation was also represented by the F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team, the Texas Air National Guard, and a leadership and support team from the 12th Air Force (Air Force Southern). , each playing an important role in continuing to strengthen relations with other nations in the Western Hemisphere.
“We see countries like Chile, for example, as our trusted partner, and when you look at the capacity demonstrated here, not only from what FACh can contribute, but just organizing FIDAE signals their commitment as a strong partner in South America,” said Major General Barry Cornish, commander of the 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern). [to FIDAE] Over 20 years, and I’m very proud to represent the US Air Force and SOUTHCOM here.
During the week, the F-22 Raptor demonstration team flew eight sorties, including training flights, and the Wings of Blue team flew seven jumps, showcasing American air power for the thousands of people present, leaving a lasting impression that is matched only by the impression left on everyone. Airmen participating in FIDAE 2022.
“As we leave this beautiful city and country, I have no doubt that every member of this delegation from the U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard shares my deep sense of appreciation and wonder at Chile’s rich culture. , the warmth and friendliness of the people, and the shared experience of working with our Chilean Air Force partners to successfully bring the world of aviation and aerospace to tens of thousands of our Chilean friends,” said Col. Adam Mercier, mission commander for the US Air Force FIDAE delegation. “It’s an experience I will remember all my life.”