Air Force sends F-22s, Wings of Blue, Texas ANG to Latin America’s Biggest Air Show

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class William Finn
  • 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern)

More than 150 U.S. Airmen attended and performed at an airshow in Santiago, Chile, April 9-14, 2024.

Airmen from 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern), the F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team, the U.S. Air Force Academy Wings of Blue Parachute Team, the Texas Air National Guard and Davis-Monthan Air Force Base supported the Feria Internacional del Aire y del Espacio, the largest trade show in Latin America.

During FIDAE the F-22 demo team and Wings of Blue both performed, while Airmen from the Texas Air National Guard provided static displays for viewing. The tradeshow section of FIDAE had 428 different exhibitors and the airshow had a total of 106 aircraft perform.

“The F-22 Demo Team was thrilled and honored to perform eight demonstrations during FIDAE 2024. The excitement and overwhelming support from the Chilean military and civilian participants made this event incredibly memorable for our team,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Samuel Larson, F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team commander and pilot.

During the airshow, U.S. Air Force members met and exchanged patches and capacity-building ideas with partner nation military. The Wings of Blue conducted daily jumps with their Chilean and Colombian counterparts, the Boinas Azules and the Aguila De Gules. 

“These important relationships we’re building help us in the event of a crisis or future operation that requires us to work together,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col Eric Bein, 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) exercise and airshow division chief.

Bein said the overarching goal of U.S. participation in the trade show was strengthening military-to-military relationships with South American partners. He also said U.S. Space Force Guardians and medical experts from AFSOUTH participated in conferences and summits alongside the trade show and made valuable contacts through Defense Security Agency engagements.  

“It is important to note that the United States has been part of FIDAE since its first edition in 1980. Thus, the public coming from different parts of the world is always eager to meet the modern and powerful USAF aircraft that have been on display,” said Chilean air force Col. Francisco Ramirez, 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) foreign liaison officer.

An estimated 92,000 people attended the two-day public event, giving Airmen numerous opportunities to interact with the Chilean people and represent their service and their nation. 

“As Airmen, U.S. participation allows us to engage in an event outside of our country,” Bein said. “It helps put the importance of U.S. relationships in our area of responsibility into a greater context. It allows us to connect with partners in these countries at the human level and helps foster trust and understanding.”

Bein said FIDAE presented some logistical challenges for the teams to overcome, with 155 U.S. participants and aircraft traveling from locations across the U.S. 

“All the teams put in significant effort to make this a success, with tremendous support from the Chileans hosting us. In the end it was worth the effort as everyone on the team represented the U.S. positively and helped foster relations with one of our most important allies in the region,” Bein said.