SANTIAGO, Chile –
Twelfth Air Force (AFSOUTH) joined with Airmen from across the United States to support the FIDAE (Feria Internacional del Aire y del Espacio) Air Show, April 3-8 in Santiago, Chile. Over 240 Airmen and nine U.S. Air Force aircraft arrived in Chile for FIDAE, the largest air show of its kind in South America.
U.S. personnel worked closely with their Chilean partners to ensure a successful air show, coordinating the arrival and placement of various U.S. aircraft, including the F-35 Lightning II, F-22 Raptor and B-52 Stratofortress.
Leaders in both the U.S. and Chilean Air Force stressed that the FIDAE air show was an opportunity to further the familiarity and understanding between the U.S. and Chile.
“For us it’s really important to have exchanges with different air forces, specifically the U.S. Air Force,” said Chilean Air Force Colonel Jaime Reyes, FIDAE Chief Executive Officer. “We want [the United States] to know us and strengthen the relationship.”
Airmen also held informal discussions with their Chilean counterparts, which helped both sides discover similar concepts and experiences.
“We’re excited to be down here,” said U.S. Air Force Captain Andrew “Dojo” Olson, F-35 Heritage Flight Team Commander and Pilot, Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. “The thing I enjoy most about working with our partner nations down here is that even though we’re all from different countries, wear different uniforms, we all speak the same aviation language.”
Over 120 thousand visitors attended the 6-day air show, where U.S. airmen participated in a variety of activities including subject matter exchanges with the Chilean Air Force, aerial demonstrations, and interaction with the local community.
“We’re here to showcase the F-22 Raptor capabilities and interact with the community,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant Israel Davila, F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team Crew Chief, Langley AFB, Virginia. “I know a little bit of Spanish and I’ve been able to interact with the public a little bit and it’s been wonderful.”
FIDAE 2018 was also a showcase for the F-35 Lightning II, as the arrival of the fifth-generation fighter marked the first time an F-35 has touched down in Latin America.
“This is the first time the F-35 has ever been in this continent,” said Captain Olson. “We’re down here to show the jet and strengthen those military relationships with our friends in Latin America and build those bonds with our allies down here.”