Kadena offers ‘lots of fun things’ to public despite cancellation of air show
KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — AmericaFest ended Wednesday under a sunny sky.
There was plenty to see, with a lot of entertainment, food, fun and static displays of a wide range of U.S. and Japanese Air Self-Defense Forces aircraft.
Performances included several local rock bands, a reggae group and the Pacific Air Force Band.
And there was plenty for the kids: a mini-park of rides designed to wear them out on their special day off from Department of Defense Dependent Schools, which were closed Wednesday.
The food also was one of the drawing cards. The fare ranged from American pizza, hamburgers and hot dogs to Japanese “yakitori” or chicken on a stick.
“We are always looking forward to the Americafest,” said Nozomi Reyes, an airman’s spouse. “Our children can see the airplanes and we can enjoy all different kinds of food.”
This was the first open house at Kadena since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. The open house was supposed to feature an air show by the Thunderbirds, the Air Force’s premier aerial demonstration team, but the show was canceled in the wake of the Aug. 13 crash of a Marine helicopter in Ginowan, a few miles down the road from Kadena Air Base.
The mayors of the municipalities that host Kadena asked the Air Force to cancel the show and Air Force officials agreed it was best “in light of the sensitivities expressed by local and national Japanese government officials.”
“It was my first time to see the inside of this kind of airplane,” said Shino Tosa, who was checking out one of the planes on display.
“It was really interesting to see all the complicated equipment and gauges in the cockpit,” said Tosa, who was visiting Okinawa with her husband from mainland Japan.
“We learned of the festival while on a tour of Okinawa, and we decided right away to come here,” said her husband, Yoichi.
“It was a bit disappointing that there is no air show but I guess it couldn’t (be helped) because of the helicopter crash.”
“We wish we could have seen the aerobatics, but there are lots of other fun stuff here,” said Tosa. “One thing I really want to do is eat a really big hamburger.”
Jen Matherne, the wife of Air Force Capt. Ray Matherne, said she’d hoped to see the Thunderbirds show because their 2-year-old daughter, Noelle, never has seen one.
“But still, we are happy to be here,” she said. “There are lots of fun things and we are having fun.”