F-16 Fighting Falcon, C-17 Globemaster III demonstration teams build partnerships in New Zealand

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jarrod Vickers
  • 35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
“We are here to enhance our partnership with New Zealand,” said U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Taylor Absher, 14th Fighter Squadron F-16 pilot. “We want to put on a good show for them, and we are just as excited to be here as they are to have us.”

This is the first appearance by an F-16 demonstration team since the show's inception in 1988. The U.S. Air Force appeared at the WOW International Airshow in 2008 and 2010 with the LC-130 Skibird, used for the Operation Deep Freeze mission, and again in 2016 with the C-17.

“[New Zealanders] are very accommodating,” noted U.S. Air Force Capt. James Callen, 535th Airlift Squadron C-17 aircraft commander. “They love seeing C-17s here, which is great for us. It makes us feel good about what we are doing.”

Although the demonstration teams traveled to perform aerial displays for the WOW International Airshow, a large portion of their time was spent on the ground coordinating logistics with New Zealand partners.

“I spent a lot of time on the ground interacting with our Kiwi friends,” said Callen. “We worked very closely for getting airspace cleared, narrating our demonstration, and buttoning up the airshow, so working together as a unit was great.”

The Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow featured U.S. Air Force assets alongside aircraft and crew from the Royal New Zealand air force, Royal Australian air force and French air force from New Caledonia.