Aircraft on display during Friendship Day
April 29, 2009
Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni is prepping this week for Tuesday’s massive annual goodwill festival.
The 36th U.S.-Japan Friendship Day is expected to draw about 250,000 visitors to the air station, according to base officials.
The crowd will likely fill local hotels and clog city streets, and air station officials have issued traffic information aimed at keeping revelers out of gridlock during one of the largest air shows in the Pacific.
The popular event allows Japanese residents to come onto the base for an air show, concerts, festival food and exhibits.
"Throughout the year, servicemembers and dependents assigned to MCAS Iwakuni participate in a variety of Japanese festivals off base," air station spokesman Maj. Guillermo Canedo said. "Friendship Day is our opportunity to open the base gates and to share a little bit of ourselves with our neighbors."
The flight demonstrations will include Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s "Blue Impulse" precision team, a Marine Corps VFA-102 Super Hornet team, a Pacific Air Force F-16 team, aerial refueling, a jetpack by Jetpack International, and an AV-8B Harrier jet.
Also featured are a motorcycle demonstration by Tak Shigematsu, parachute teams from U.S. Army Special Forces Korea, a Recon Marine parachute team from Okinawa, and numerous fly-bys.
U.S. and Japanese military aircraft also will be on static display.
The festival runs from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday.
Base officials are urging residents to avoid driving to the event and instead take public transportation because heavy traffic and congestion is expected.
Shuttle buses will run from JR Iwakuni train station starting at 7 a.m. to the base’s main gate. Beginning at 2 p.m., a bus will make trips from the air station to the train station.
Nobody will be allowed into the festival after 1:30 p.m. and vehicles could be barred before that time if parking lots are full, according to the air station.
Pedestrians must enter the main gate, where they will be searched. Large bags are discouraged because they might cause delays at the security checkpoint, base officials said.
For more information, visit www.friendship-day.net.