MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan --
On an early Sunday morning, the base's Friendship Gate opened ushering thousands of excited Japanese nationals through to make their way to the flightline, Sept. 11, for Misawa Air Fest 2016.
“We wanted to open Misawa Air Base to the public in partnership with our Japan Air Self-Defense Force allies and demonstrate goodwill and build trust with our local community through flying demonstrations, static aircraft displays and positive personal interactions with U.S. and JASDF military members,” said Maj. Michael Handy, Misawa Air Fest 2016 project officer with the 35th Fighter Wing. “It also allowed us to demonstrate the strength of the bond between the United States Air Force and JASDF and showcase our combined capabilities in the Pacific Air Forces’ area of responsibility.”
Approximately 80,000 people attended the air show traveling from all over Japan to enjoy various Japanese and America aerial demonstrations and cultural festival foods.
The event included JASDF flying demonstrations of the Mitsubishi F-15J, Mitsubishi F-2, CH-47 Chinook, U-125 Peace Krypton and a UH-60 Black Hawk.
In addition to the flying acts, bases from across the region setup static displays including the F-16 Fighting Falcon, A-10 Thunderbolt II, C-130 Hercules, C-12 Huron, UH-1N Iroquois, RQ-4 Global Hawk, P-3 Orion, P-8 Poseidon and an E-2C Hawkeye.
“It’s great being able to display [the F-16s] to the children,” said Maj. Richard Smeeding, a pilot with the Pacific Air Forces’ F-16 demonstration team which performed during the air show. “When you get around kids who have never seen the aircraft or pilots who fly them, it’s invigorating to see the looks on their faces. The kids go nuts for [the demonstrations].”
The F-16s were not the only ones to demonstrate their capabilities. JASDF's own aerobatic team, Blue Impulse, also attended “wowing” the crowds with their agility and formation techniques.
“I thought it was great,” said Tabitha Cornelius, unit program manager with the 35th Maintenance Squadron and air show attendee. “I’ve been to air shows in the United States, and [Misawa’s Air Fest] was way above my expectations. I thought it was awesome how we had different parts of cultures present.”
With next year’s air show already in the planning stages, Handy said everyone can look forward to another great Air Fest next year.