SANTIAGO, Chile --
Chilean President Michelle Bachelet presided over a ceremony today officially marking the start of FIDAE 2014, one of the largest international trade and air shows in the world, being held in Santiago, Chile, March 25 to 30.
Hundreds attended the ceremony which took place among a sea of military and civilian aircraft displays and included a flyover by three Chilean F-16s. Following the ceremony, exhibition pavilions and aircraft were opened for the trade show portion of the FIDAE, which will be followed by the public days over the weekend.
U.S. airmen, primarily from the Texas Air National Guard, are participating in FIDAE by hosting static displays of the C-130 Hercules and F-16 Fighting Falcon. In addition, the airmen are participating in subject matter expert exchanges with Chilean air force partners throughout the week to build partnerships and promote interoperability between the two air forces.
These events include discussions and demonstrations on C-130 maintenance and operations, F-16 maintenance and operations, human medical factors in aviation, parachuting procedures, military civil engineering, and providing medical support in a deployed area.
"U.S. military participation in these exchanges and the FIDAE air show provides an opportunity to strengthen our military-to-military relationships with regional partners," said Col. Steve Pedrotty, director of operations for 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern), which overseas U.S. Air Force involvement and partnerships in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. "The opportunity to meet with our Chilean air force hosts promotes interoperability, which can be applied to events ranging from exercises to humanitarian assistance operations."
One of the events that took place during FIDAE's opening day included exchanges on C-130 maintenance and operations.
"The SMEE was a great opportunity to speak with our counterparts in the FACh about flying the C-130," said 1st Lt. Jacob Fuhrmann, a C-130 pilot from the Texas Air National Guard. "Several of their airmen visited our aircraft to talk about best practices with [auxiliary power unit] systems, and the Chileans gave us the chance to take a look inside one of their C-130s which had a modernized, glass cockpit."
The exchange will continue to have a lasting impact well after the event, according to Maj. Josh Ritzmann, also a C-130 pilot.
"We also had the opportunity to do some cross-talk with C-130 operations and share best practices on tactical employment," he added. "The talks helped enhance our relationship with the Chilean air force and broadened the scope of both U.S. and Chilean C-130 capabilities."
For detailed information about FIDAE to include directions, hours, and other information, please visit the airshow website at http://www.fidae.cl/en/web/show-aereo.
For more information on the U.S. aircraft on static display, please visit www.af.mil/AboutUs/FactSheets.aspx