Photo Report : Chilean Army Day 2008
Antonio Segovia from Chile contributed his report on spotting the Chilean Air Force's contribution to the Army Day parade 2008.
In Chile, we celebrate the Chilean Army Day on September 19th. All branches of the Armed Forces take part in a parade in Santiago, our Capital city. This day is a good opportunity to see some aircraft of the Air Forces (Fuerza Aérea de Chile - FACh). Since several years ago many spotters frequently go to see the take off and landing of the aircraft involved in the parade.
In 2008, I went for my second time to see the following aircraft:
The activity started around 15:00hrs (local time), when the sound of the engines from F-16s announced the proximity to take off. The first aircraft taxiing was F-16AM # 730 and stopped on north corner of the runway on Arturo Merino B. International Airport. Then the rest of the aircraft, four F-16AM and two F-16BM, gathered in the same place. After the ground crew had carried out the final checks, the first F-16AM # 730 moved to the point to start the take off, accelerating without afterburner.
The next aircraft type to depart was the F-16 Block 50. Taxiing to the same place, the first aircraft F-16C Block 50 # 855 was followed by three more F-16C and two F-16D two-seaters. The ground crew made the final check and F-16C #855 moved to the take off point and F-16C #854 positioned as wingman on the runway, but took off separately, not in formation.
Afterwards, I could hear the helicopter engines starting and see the S-70 leading the formation of six choppers, three UH-1H and two Bell 206B Jet Ranger III joined the Blackhawk. They formed on single line and took off, later they made a “V” formation.
We waited for two hours to watch the aircrafts return to the airport. At 17:15hrs, we heard the helicopters approaching from the south and made left turn over us in order to land in a single line.
Few minutes later, from the north the sections (two aircraft in formation) passed over us and entered the landing pattern. The first aircraft to land were the F-16AM/BMs followed by the F-16C Block 50s and finally F-16Ds.
The F-16AM/BM are former RNLAF (Royal Netherlands Air Force) examples. They were acquired by Chile in September 2006. These fighters replaced the Mirage Elkan, ex-Belgium Mirage 5 upgraded under the MIRSIP program. They are based at Cerro Moreno (“Brown Hill”), near to the city of Antofagasta in the northern part of the country.
The F-16 Block 50s are brand new and started to arrive in Chile in June 2006. These fighters reactivated the Grupo 3 on Los Cóndores airbase with new infrastructure and support installations, near the city of Iquique, up north of the country in the vicinity of Atacama, the driest desert in the world.
The S-70 Blackhawk and the other helicopters are from Grupo 9. The unit includes the FACh’s helicopter school. The Bell 206B Jet Ranger III is used for basic training. The UH-1H and S-70 are used for many different missions, including transport of commandos, VIP transport, and assisting in natural disaster relief and SAR. Some pilots and ground crew are also deployed to Haiti on humanitarian missions with several Chilean UH-1H helicopters.
Report and photos by Antonio Segovia (e-mail)
Last Modified: 3 April 2013