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PACAF F-16 Demo Team strengthens bonds through professionalism

Members of the U.S. Pacific Air Forces F-16 Demonstration Team pause for a photo prior to launching from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, to the Hofu Air Festival, May 21, 2017. Due to the runway being too short for the F-16 Fighting Falcon to take-off and land, the show was staged, meaning the jet launched from a different location than where the air show took place. The PACAF F-16 Demonstration Team is comprised of members from 13th Fighter Squadron, 14th FS and 35th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. The team includes one pilot, two narrators, one safety observer, a superintendent and a maintenance team composed of three crew chiefs and four specialists, responsible for the aircraft's avionics and electrical systems and engines. (Courtesy photo)

Members of the U.S. Pacific Air Forces F-16 Demonstration Team pause for a photo prior to launching from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, to the Hofu Air Festival, May 21, 2017. Due to the runway being too short for the F-16 Fighting Falcon to take-off and land, the show was staged, meaning the jet launched from a different location than where the air show took place. The PACAF F-16 Demonstration Team is comprised of members from 13th Fighter Squadron, 14th FS and 35th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. The team includes one pilot, two narrators, one safety observer, a superintendent and a maintenance team composed of three crew chiefs and four specialists, responsible for the aircraft's avionics and electrical systems and engines. (Courtesy photo)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Dakota Newton, the Pacific Air Forces F-16 Demonstration Team safety observer, signals to the announcers the F-16 Fighting Falcon demo pilot will begin the performance in 30 seconds during the Hofu Air Festival at Hofu-kita Air Base, Japan, May 21, 2017. As safety observer, Newton is Maj. Richard Smeeding’s eyes on the ground, ensuring he is set up for the next maneuver properly and making sure there are no birds in his path. Smeeding is the demo pilot. Besides the show schedule, team members must be ready to deploy in support of the 35th Fighter Wing's wartime mission while handling their day-to-day jobs within the squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melanie Hutto)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Dakota Newton, the Pacific Air Forces F-16 Demonstration Team safety observer, signals to the announcers the F-16 Fighting Falcon demo pilot will begin the performance in 30 seconds during the Hofu Air Festival at Hofu-kita Air Base, Japan, May 21, 2017. As safety observer, Newton is Maj. Richard Smeeding’s eyes on the ground, ensuring he is set up for the next maneuver properly and making sure there are no birds in his path. Smeeding is the demo pilot. Besides the show schedule, team members must be ready to deploy in support of the 35th Fighter Wing's wartime mission while handling their day-to-day jobs within the squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melanie Hutto)

Hiromichi Nara, left, the Pacific Air Forces F-16 Demonstration Team translator and liaison, and U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Tristan Berger, the PACAF F-16 Demonstration Team aerospace propulsion craftsman and narrator, announce the different maneuvers the demo pilot performs  during the Hofu Air Festival, May 21, 2017 at Hofu-kita Air Base, Japan. Nara joined the demo team at its inception almost 20 years ago. Berger became a team member one year ago. The primary objective of the team is to showcase the F-16 Fighting Falcon’s capabilities to countries that fall within PACAF’s area of responsibility. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melanie Hutto)

Hiromichi Nara, left, the Pacific Air Forces F-16 Demonstration Team translator and liaison, and U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Tristan Berger, the PACAF F-16 Demonstration Team aerospace propulsion craftsman and narrator, announce the different maneuvers the demo pilot performs during the Hofu Air Festival, May 21, 2017 at Hofu-kita Air Base, Japan. Nara joined the demo team at its inception almost 20 years ago. Berger became a team member one year ago. The primary objective of the team is to showcase the F-16 Fighting Falcon’s capabilities to countries that fall within PACAF’s area of responsibility. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melanie Hutto)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Richard Smeeding, the Pacific Air Forces F-16 Demonstration Team pilot, performs the triple aileron roll during the Hofu Air Festival at Hofu-kita Air Base, Japan, May 21, 2017. The triple aileron roll was one of 14 maneuvers Smeeding completed during the 15-minute display of the F-16 Fighting Falcon’s capabilities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melanie Hutto)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Richard Smeeding, the Pacific Air Forces F-16 Demonstration Team pilot, performs the triple aileron roll during the Hofu Air Festival at Hofu-kita Air Base, Japan, May 21, 2017. The triple aileron roll was one of 14 maneuvers Smeeding completed during the 15-minute display of the F-16 Fighting Falcon’s capabilities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melanie Hutto)

Members of the Pacific Air Forces F-16 Demonstration Team watch as an F-16 Fighting Falcon flies by during the Hofu Air Festival at Hofu-kita Air Base, Japan, May 21, 2017. The team's purpose is to strengthen the U.S. relationship with countries in the Pacific region through demonstrations showing the pinnacle of the Air Force core values of integrity, service and excellence. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melanie Hutto)

Members of the Pacific Air Forces F-16 Demonstration Team watch as an F-16 Fighting Falcon flies by during the Hofu Air Festival at Hofu-kita Air Base, Japan, May 21, 2017. The team's purpose is to strengthen the U.S. relationship with countries in the Pacific region through demonstrations showing the pinnacle of the Air Force core values of integrity, service and excellence. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melanie Hutto)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Tristan Berger, the Pacific Air Forces F-16 Demonstration Team aerospace propulsion craftsman and narrator, shakes hands with a Japanese local during the Hofu Air Festival, at Hofu-kita Air Base, Japan, May 21, 2017. Making personal contact with local nationals on and off the flight line showcases the U.S. and Japan bilateral relationship is more than just on a military basis. Besides the show schedule, team members must be ready to deploy in support of the 35th Fighter Wing's wartime mission while handling their day-to-day jobs within the squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melanie Hutto)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Tristan Berger, the Pacific Air Forces F-16 Demonstration Team aerospace propulsion craftsman and narrator, shakes hands with a Japanese local during the Hofu Air Festival, at Hofu-kita Air Base, Japan, May 21, 2017. Making personal contact with local nationals on and off the flight line showcases the U.S. and Japan bilateral relationship is more than just on a military basis. Besides the show schedule, team members must be ready to deploy in support of the 35th Fighter Wing's wartime mission while handling their day-to-day jobs within the squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melanie Hutto)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Richard Smeeding, the Pacific Air Forces F-16 Demonstration Team pilot, flies across the sky during the Hofu Air Festival, at Hofu-kita Air Base, Japan, May 21, 2017. Smeeding performed an 15-minute demonstration that showcased the F-16 Fighting Falcon power and maneuverability. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melanie Hutto)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Richard Smeeding, the Pacific Air Forces F-16 Demonstration Team pilot, flies across the sky during the Hofu Air Festival, at Hofu-kita Air Base, Japan, May 21, 2017. Smeeding performed a 15-minute demonstration that showcased the F-16 Fighting Falcon power and maneuverability. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melanie Hutto)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Dakota Newton, the Pacific Air Forces F-16 Demonstration Team safety observer, signs an umbrella for a Japanese local during the Hofu Air Festivalat at Hofu-kita Air Base, Japan, May 21, 2017. While their primary focus is to showcase the jet’s capabilities, community engagement plays a big role. For some of the air festival attendees, this was their first interactions with Americans. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melanie Hutto)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Dakota Newton, the Pacific Air Forces F-16 Demonstration Team safety observer, signs an umbrella for a Japanese local during the Hofu Air Festival at at Hofu-kita Air Base, Japan, May 21, 2017. While their primary focus is to showcase the jet’s capabilities, community engagement plays a big role. For some of the air festival attendees, this was their first interaction with Americans. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melanie Hutto)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Dakota Newton, a Pacific Air Forces F-16 Demonstration Team safety observer, shares a thumbs up with a young boy during the Hofu Air Festival at Hofu-kita Air Base, Japan, May 21, 2017. The interaction with community is one aspect of the teams overall mission, the other being a display of the F-16 Fighting Falcons air power. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melanie Hutto)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Dakota Newton, a Pacific Air Forces F-16 Demonstration Team safety observer, shares a thumbs up with a young boy during the Hofu Air Festival at Hofu-kita Air Base, Japan, May 21, 2017. The interaction with community is one aspect of the teams overall mission, the other being a display of the F-16 Fighting Falcon's air power. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melanie Hutto)

HOFU-KITA AIR BASE, Japan --

The Pacific Air Forces F-16 Demonstration Team from Misawa Air Base, Japan performed at the Hofu Air Festival, giving approximately 30,000 spectators a front row seat to the power and maneuverability of the F-16 Fighting Falcon, May 21.

The team's objective is to strengthen the U.S. Air Force's relationship with countries in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region through demonstrations showcasing the pinnacle of the Air Force’s core values: integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do.

After Maj. Richard Smeeding, the PACAF F-16 Demonstration Team pilot, performed 14 maneuvers over the span of 15 minutes, he returned to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni where the crowd awaited their chance to meet the team.

While the team's primary focus is to showcase the jet’s capabilities, community engagement plays a big role. They dedicated several hours answering people's questions, signing autographs and taking pictures.

“My first time ever mingling with the crowd was actually at last year’s Hofu Air Festival and it was a surreal feeling. I didn’t know how to react because I’m just a maintainer,” Tech. Sgt. Tristan Berger, a PACAF F-16 Demonstration Team aerospace propulsion craftsman and narrator said, laughing. “Now I enjoy it a lot; I look forward to making people smile and seeing the kids faces light up when they see us. They gaze up at me like I’m a giant from a far away land.”

Immersing with the Japanese culture on and off the flight line cultivates a deeper significance to the U.S. and Japan bilateral relationship, evidencing it is built on more than a military foundation.

“We are often the first U.S. military personnel the Japanese see and our first interaction is showing them this awesome display in the air while showing a friendly face on the ground,” said Capt. Dakota Newton, the PACAF F-16 Demonstration Team flight safety observer. “It’s a great experience because you can see from the looks on their faces how much they enjoyed the show.”

The PACAF F-16 Demonstration Team is comprised of members from the 13th Fighter Squadron, 14th FS and the 35th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. The team includes one pilot, two narrators, one safety observer, a superintendent and a maintenance team comprised of three crew chiefs and four specialists, responsible for the aircraft's avionics and electrical systems and engines.

With the closure of the flight line at Misawa AB, Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni temporarily became one of three locations Wild Weasel pilots and maintainers are operating from until the flight line is operational. As if this was not impressive enough for the 35th Fighter Wing's team of jets, the demo team proved its flexibility even further -- they had to launch the jet from a different location than where the air show took place. 

“Although this is one of the smallest air shows we attend throughout the year, we had to operate out of two locations,” explained Berger. “Half of the team stayed at MCAS Iwakuni to launch and recover the jet while the rest of us went to Hofu to fulfill the air show portion of our routine, as well as interact with the host Koku-Jieitai personnel and attendees.”

Although their show schedule keeps the team busy, this is not their primary job. They must maintain readiness to deploy with or support the 35th FW wherever needed.

“In addition to the yearly show schedule that includes roughly around 15 air shows, this team is still ready to deploy in support of the 35th FW's contingency mission within the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, all while running our day-to-day jobs within the squadron,” explained Newton.

The demo team is slated to visit Chitose Air Base next on their tour.