The Chilean Air Force’s (FACh) Boinas Azules (Blue Berets) Parachute Squadron performed with its counterpart, The U.S. Air Force’s Wings of Blue Demonstration Team, at the 2022 International Air and Space Fair (FIDAE), held in Santiago, Chile.
FIDAE, an aerospace, defense, and security exhibition, has been held every two years since 1980, and is organized by the FACh.
“Exercises such as this are fundamental, given that for the United States, alliances in the area of international security are consolidated through military exercises,” Guillermo Holzmann, a Chilean defense analyst and academic at the University of Valparaíso’s School of Economic and Administrative Sciences, told Diálogo. “There, not only do the capabilities of each armed force converge, but all the elements of organization, planning, command, and control are perfected.”
In this edition, 13 parachutists from both countries participated, performing daily exhibitions that included freefall demonstrations, acrobatics, and formation, the FACh told the press. FIDAE is considered the most important aerospace fair in South America, and this year’s edition, held April 5-10, featured more than 400 exhibitors representing 46 countries, and more than 200 international delegations, the FACh added.
The Wings of Blue Demonstration Team from the U.S. Air Force Academy and the Chilean Boinas Azules performed jumps from a CASA 212, a FACh light tactical transport aircraft. In a demonstration of collaboration, the last two jumpers on the aircraft, one from each nation and each day of the demonstrations, waved their country’s flag as they glided through the air toward the landing zone.
“Our raison d’être as a squadron is to carry out these types of presentations, so we enjoy watching the public be amazed by our acrobatics,” FACh Captain Juan José Palavicino, commander of the Boinas Azules Squadron, said on the FACh website. “After the pandemic, it’s been very gratifying to be back in contact with the public.”
“It’s not every day you get to watch working relationships form between two nations. In 20 years, I am not going to remember the skydive, but I am going to remember the international partnership,” Cadet Second Class Baileigh McFall, a member of The Wings of Blue, said according to a SOUTHCOM release. “For middle and operational commanders to meet and interact means this is a relationship that is going to be around for years to come,” Holzmann added.
Apart from showcasing the FACh’s skydiving capabilities, the Boinas Azules support the development of freefall techniques with the institution’s Special Forces units. In addition, they collaborate with research and scientific development in flight physiology, supporting the Center of Aerospace Medicine of the FACh, whose mission is to carry out the selection, psychophysical control, and morbidity care of military personnel involved in aerial activities.
The Wings of Blue’s primary mission is to run the U.S. Air Force Academy’s basic Freefall Parachuting course, known as Airmanship 490 (AM-490). Its members serve primarily as jumpmasters.
The Wings of Blue has both a demonstration team and a competition team. The demonstration team travels performing airshows, sporting events, and others to represent the Air Force in precision parachuting. The competition team represents the Air Force, by competing with other teams in six-way speed formations, four-way relative work, two-way free fly, and sport accuracy.