The International Aeronautic Fair – F-Air Colombia 2019 exceeded its own expectations, and received more than 62,000 national and international attendees. The ninth edition of F-Air, held July 11-14 at José María Córdova Airport in Rionegro, Antioquia department, highlighted the capabilities of the Colombian Air Force (FAC) and showed the potential of the national aeronautical sector.
The United States was the guest country of the biennial fair that featured air displays, including the Thunderbirds, the U.S. Air Force’s air demonstration squadron, as well as the participation of the South Carolina Air National Guard with its F-16C fighters. F-Air 2019 also served as a venue for FAC’s 100th anniversary celebration.
“The FAC today is a regional reference, operating more than 300 aircraft and with 13,000 men and women who work tirelessly day and night throughout the year to protect Colombians,” General Ramsés Rueda Rueda, FAC commander, said at the opening ceremony. “F-Air is the result of an alliance between two important partners: civil aeronautics and FAC. It’s a display of capabilities and opportunities for large companies and leaders from the national and international aerospace industry, who come to show their most advanced technologies and services.”
During the four-day fair, participants saw aerobatics, parachuting, flyovers, and more than 100 aircraft exhibited, including civil, military, and commercial airplanes and helicopters. The event featured more than 200 exhibitors from Brazil, Canada, Chile, Ecuador, France, Germany, Guatemala, South Korea, and the United States, among others. International experts gave specialized lectures about civil aviation in the region, the integration of drones in civil activities, and the challenges for the aviation system.
“Our participation, with the Thunderbirds, the South Carolina Air National Guard, and the B-52s, highlights our commitment and enduring partnership with the Colombian Air Force and the people of Colombia,” said U.S. Air Force Major General Andrew A. Croft, commander of the 12th Air Force/Air Forces Southern. “Being able to be in Colombia with one of our closest partners in Latin America enhances the bonds we have between our two countries — bonds like a shared interest in democracy, freedom, and security in the Americas.”
“F-Air is a great opportunity to strengthen the relationship between the two countries. We have common interests and goals, and it’s always good to show our commitment to each other by doing events like this,” said U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel John Caldwell, commander of the Thunderbirds. “It’s a real special event for the country, and for us, it has been almost 50 years since we were here during the celebration of the FAC’s 50th anniversary. It’s a pleasure to be here flying right alongside the Colombian pilots. I see them as brothers in arms.”
For the Guatemalan Air Force, F-Air “is a suitable place to get to know new technologies that air forces might implement and to spend time with other countries,” said Brigadier General Timo Hernández Duarte, commander of the Guatemalan Air Force. “FAC is a role model for Latin American countries, because it has been a leader not only in aviation development, but also in strategies used to be able to develop and confront the challenges that presented themselves during the political history of Colombia.”
“I would like to personally congratulate the Colombian Air Force on their 100 years of service to the Colombian people. It was an honor for me personally and for all of the U.S. forces that participated to be a part of this celebration,” Maj. Gen. Croft concluded. “I also look forward to our cooperation in areas like disaster response, humanitarian aid, and counter-narcotics.”