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

14th Fighter Squadron F-16 pilot  taxiing

U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Taylor Absher, 14th Fighter Squadron F-16 pilot, signals the squadron hand sign before taxiing at Christchurch International Airport, New Zealand, March 28, 2018. U.S. forces participated in Warbirds over Wanaka (WOW) Airshow 2018 to strengthen military-to-military ties with our New Zealand partners while enhancing relationships with partners in the Indo-Pacific region. Aerial events like WOW Airshow 18 provide U.S. An opportunity to strengthen its international partnerships and military-to-military relationships with allies and partners throughout the region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jarrod Vickers)

Strengthening Ties

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Jeff Parker, 13th Aircraft Maintenance Unit aircraft section chief, familiarizes local first responders with the F-16 Fighting Falcon emergency power unit exhaust for safe and efficient response at Christchurch International Airport, New Zealand, March 28, 2018. U.S. forces participated in Warbirds over Wanaka (WOW) Airshow 2018 to strengthen military-to-military ties with our New Zealand partners while enhancing relationships with partners in the Indo-Pacific region. Aerial events like WOW Airshow 18 provide U.S. An opportunity to strengthen its international partnerships and military-to-military relationships with allies and partners throughout the region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jarrod Vickers)

Aircraft Maintenance Unit avionics craftsman at WOW Airshow 18

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Mario Perez, 13th Aircraft Maintenance Unit avionics craftsman (left), and U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Zachary Latoski, 14th Aircraft Maintenance Unit avionics craftsman (right), perform confidence checks on a fuel quantity select panel at Christchurch International Airport, New Zealand, March 28, 2018. U.S. forces participated in Warbirds over Wanaka (WOW) Airshow 2018 to strengthen military-to-military ties with our New Zealand partners while enhancing relationships with partners in the Indo-Pacific region. Aerial events like WOW Airshow 18 provide U.S. An opportunity to strengthen its international partnerships and military-to-military relationships with allies and partners throughout the region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jarrod Vickers)

Putting the Birds to Bed

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Caleb Laurent, 14th Aircraft Maintenance Unit weapons load team chief, performs a post-flight weapons check at Christchurch International Airport, New Zealand, March 28, 2018. U.S. forces participated in Warbirds over Wanaka (WOW) Airshow 2018 to strengthen military-to-military ties with our New Zealand partners while enhancing relationships with partners in the Indo-Pacific region. Aerial events like WOW Airshow 18 provide U.S. An opportunity to strengthen its international partnerships and military-to-military relationships with allies and partners throughout the region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jarrod Vickers)

Pre-flight Checks

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Steven O. Pedrick, 14th Aircraft Maintenance Unit crew chief, verifies flight control operational check-out prior to departure at Christchurch International Airport, New Zealand, March 28, 2018, in preparation for Warbirds over Wanaka (WOW) International Airshow 2018. The Pacific Air Forces’ F-16 Demonstration Team shared the taxiway with Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) T-6 Texan aircraft, as well as RNZAF Beechcraft B200s that transported demo team crew to and from Wanaka during the airshow. WOW International Airshow is the largest 'Warbird' display in the Southern Hemisphere with four nations participating: United States, New Zealand, Australia and French Armed Forces of New Caledonia. This year will mark the 30th anniversary since its inception in 1988. The U.S. participates in WOW Airshow 18 and other similar events to demonstrate the U.S. commitment to regional security and stability. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jarrod Vickers)

Marshaling Them Out

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Byron Cole, 14th Aircraft Maintenance Unit crew chief, marshals U.S. Air Force Capt. Jacob Impellizzeri, 14th Fighter Squadron F-16 pilot at Christchurch International Airport, New Zealand, March 28, 2018. U.S. forces are participating in Warbirds over Wanaka (WOW) Airshow 2018 to strengthen military-to-military ties with our New Zealand partners while enhancing relationships with partners in the Indo-Pacific region. Aerial events like WOW Airshow 18 provide U.S. an opportunity to strengthen its international partnerships and military-to-military relationships with allies and partners throughout the region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jarrod Vickers)

Packing the ISU

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Corey Harrison, 35th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment craftsman, packs an individual storage unit at Christchurch International Airport, New Zealand, March 28, 2018, in preparation for Warbirds over Wanaka (WOW) International Airshow 2018. The airshow is the largest 'Warbird' display in the Southern Hemisphere with four nations participating: United States, New Zealand, Australia and French Armed Forces of New Caledonia. This year will mark the 30th anniversary since its inception in 1988. The U.S. participates in WOW Airshow 18 and other similar events to demonstrate the U.S. commitment to regional security and stability. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jarrod Vickers)

WANAKA, New Zealand -- “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.