MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni opened its gates to approximately 200,000 guests for the 40th anniversary of the MCAS Iwakuni Friendship Day Air Show, May 5, 2016.
Since 1973, MCAS Iwakuni has conducted a single-day air show and open house specifically designed to foster positive relationships between the air station and Japan. This year is the 40th annual Friendship Day, offering a culturally enriching experience that displays the mutual support that the U.S. and Japan share.
This annual event showcases a variety of static displays, aviation performances and demonstrations, and provides food and entertainment for guests of the largest single-day event in Iwakuni. Guests attending the event will have the unique opportunity to experience a once-in-a-lifetime air show, according to Lt. Col. Robert E. Carlson, air show coordinator and station operations officer.
“Friendship Day is MCAS Iwakuni's largest annual community outreach event, and it extends beyond the local and regional area,” said Carlson. “This year is even more significant due to it being the 40th anniversary event and being an opportunity for people to show their support and encouragement to those impacted by the earthquakes in Kyushu. It promises to be a truly unique air show and open house experience.”
According to Col. Robert V. Boucher, commanding officer of MCAS Iwakuni, Friendship Day is an opportunity to display the solidarity with Japan and expand the relationship. This event is more than an air show, it’s an event that helps reaffirm our longstanding friendship with Japan, the same friendship where personnel and resources actively supported humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts.
“Friendship Day is about bringing the Iwakuni community and the station community together,” said Boucher. “Today is for local Japanese to have a better appreciation for what the Marine Corps is and what we are about. I hope that this is an educational opportunity for everyone and that we get to know each other a little bit better.”
Some performances included the Pemberton Aerosports Squirrel-Suit Jump, Whiskey Papa Skywriting, flight design where a Ferrari car challenges Yoshi Muroya, the air racer, to an air-ground race, the U.S. Army Golden Knights parachute team, and demonstrations from an AV-8B Harrier, MV-22B Osprey, the Marine Air-Ground Task Force and Pacific Air Forces' F-16 demonstration team.
The AV-8B Harrier and the MV-22 Osprey flight demonstration is one of the most sought-after aerial demonstrations offered by the U.S. military. For the first time, Friendship Day thrilled audience members with an air show demonstration that combined the maneuverability of the MV-22 Osprey and the power of the AV-8B Harrier. The same Marines and aircraft that train and deploy in support of real-world contingencies, such as the Kumamoto earthquake relief effort, performed at the air show. For this reason, only a handful of events receive this demonstration.
The MAGTF is the organizational structure of the Marine Corps and is made up of four elements: command, ground combat, aviation combat and combat service support. During the MAGTF demonstration, audiences witnessed close air support, simulated aerial refueling and extended capabilities of Marine Corps’ assets that perform in expeditionary environments.
Located throughout the event were numerous U.S. and other aircraft static displays for visitors to take pictures with. Displays included: an F/A-18C/D Hornet, AV-8B Harriers, a MV-22B Osprey, and KC-130J Super Hercules from III Marine Expeditionary Force, and a KC-135 Stratotanker, E-3 Sentry, UH-1 Helicopter, F/A-18E Super Hornet, EA-18G Growler, and furthermore an A-10 Thunderbolt II and a F-16 Fighting Falcon from U.S. forces in Korea. Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Japan also had static displays, which included classics such as WACO biplanes.
The air show also provided guests the opportunity to observe ground combat element capabilities within Marine Wing Support Squadron 171’s heavy and utilities equipment, Expeditionary Field Kitchen and a wide variety of military vehicles. Marine tactical units from Okinawa, Japan, also served as a great addition and shared their proficiencies in tactics on the ground.
Friendship Day came to an end as aircraft descended and guests departed the air station. Although it’s a one-day event, Friendship Day represents an alliance between two nations.
“The culturally enriching spirit of Friendship Day has been mutually beneficial for decades, and we do hope to have a joint-sponsored event next year,” said Carlson. “Friendship Day represents the enduring bond between the U.S. and Japan, and we hope to continue that tradition next year.”