Starting from the 21st of June up to the 2nd of July, the Portugal Air Force celebrated the 56th Anniversary of its presence in the Azores archipelago.
Composed by nine main islands and numerous uninhabited islets, above mentioned archipelago have volcanic origin and it is located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, about two thousand kilometres off the Portugal coasts and about three thousand kilometres from the American continent.
Discovered by Portuguese navigators in the 1427, only in the 1439 the islands were colonized and finally, in 1976, were declared as an autonomous region of Portugal.
The celebrations involved the entire archipelago with the organization of cultural events, cycles of conferences, popular concerts and aeronautics exhibitions like exposure and, in particular, air shows, that took place on the main islands having airports able to host military aircraft; in fact, the Islands of Ponta Delgada, Santa Maria, Santa Cruz das Flora, Lajes saw military field exhibitions, while the city of Horta and Angra de Heroismo were fly passed by FAP aircrafts.
On June, the 29th we were able to attend the Lajes Air Show, on the island of Terceira; the gates opened at 10.00 am with a good affluence, considering the limited population resident on the island. The aircraft partcipation was limited to the Portuguese Air Force and, due to the great distance from the Motherland, not the whole FAP fleets were able to participate. Obviously, were present the BA 4 host base aircraft (EH 101 and Casa 212), then six F 16 single and two-seater based at BA 5 of Monte Real , two Casa 212 based at BA 1 of Sintra, three C 130H and C 130-30H based at BA 6 of Montjio, the Alpha Jet of the Acrobatic Team “ASAS” based at BA 11 of Beja and also a real new entry, a brand new Casa CN 295MP full colours owned by the Casa. This aircraft was in use by the Portuguese Air Force for flight crews training purposes, awaiting the final delivery to the FAP.
The flight activity was carried out by any kind of aircraft present on the field, the Casa were constantly loaded of Terceira residents who requested their “Baptism of Flight”, the ASAS Acrobatic Team performed acrobatics exhibitions in the morning and at the end of the Air Show, a C 130H with an EH 101 and a Casa 212 simulated to recover a missing crew in hostile territory, covered by Jets making Control Air Patrol above. During the air event, the normal airport flight activities continued regularly, with takeoff and landing of the civilian ATP Bae owned by Sata Air Acores and Airbus owned by Tap Air Portugal, as well as the landing of a USAF KC-10A in the US Military part of the Base.
Special thanks to Maj. Dos Santos at the Ba 4 Lajes and Col. Faria at the Portugal Embassy in Rome.
Images and text by Giorgio Ciarini & Manuela Michelon