Iwakuni Friendship Day 2023 – Performers
We’re excited to celebrate the 44th anniversary of the JMSDF/MCAS Iwakuni Friendship Day! This year the event offers a wide range of entertainment, including a thrilling air show, static-display aircraft and military vehicles, and demonstrations. Don’t forget there is also food and fun for everyone. We are excited to announce the current lineup of performers who have confirmed they are participating this year on April 15!
Airboss | Owen Ashurst
Owen Ashurst is the Owner and Principal of Air Boss One, LLC, with over 10 years of experience in managing both civilian and military air shows. He is authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration to conduct complex air shows involving military demonstration teams, pyrotechnic displays, and all kinds of civilian performances associated with aviation events. Owen works with every major military jet demonstration team and a vast array of civilian performers in the US and Canada, including the USN Blue Angels and the USAF Thunderbirds.
He is the Air Boss for the Reno Air Races and Air Show, a highly complex event that mixes seven different classes of air racers racing multiple aircraft around a racecourse of fixed pylons, interspersed with an air show featuring jet teams and civilian performances. Owen serves on the International Council of Air Shows, Operations & Safety Committee, and is a member of the Board of Directors for the Southwest Conference of Air Shows. He is based in Southern California and provides Air Boss services for numerous aviation events annually.
Air show announcer – Luke Carrico
Luke Carrico is a professional air show announcer with a lifelong love for aviation. He began flight training in high school and expanded his experience in college, accumulating advanced flying endorsements and mentorship from industry leaders. Luke has worked with North American jet demonstration teams, single-ship demonstration units, and civilian performers, announcing close to twenty aviation events every year. He is a talent of choice for award-winning aerobatic teams and has presented hundreds of live performances over the past decade.
Luke also serves as a civilian consultant for local municipalities and the U.S. military. He has been invited to participate in some of the largest and most prestigious air shows in North America and serves as an emcee & presenter at the annual International Council of Air Shows (ICAS) convention in Las Vegas each year.
NEW Japan Air Self-Defense Force F-2
The Japan Air Self-Defense Force will be showcasing its F-2 multirole, single-engine fighter aircraft, which is popular for its air-to-air and air-to-surface capabilities. The F-2 is known for its incredible maneuverability, speed, and power. This is an aerial demonstration every aviation enthusiast will want to see.
NEW Japan Air Self-Defense Force Blue Impulse
MCAS Iwakuni is excited to announce the return of Blue Impulse, JASDF’s special aerobatic demonstration team, for Friendship Day 2023. Performing astonishing aerobatics in sequence and drawing gasps of excitement and wonder from spectators on the ground, the beautiful and majestic precision flying demonstration has won high praise from inside and outside Japan.
Official Website: https://www.mod.go.jp/asdf/pr_report/blueimpulse/index.html
NEW Japan Air Self-Defense Force National Defense Academy Honor Guard Drill Team
Introducing the Japan Air Self-Defense Force Drill Team. This is the first time the Fancy-Drill performance has been scheduled to be included at the Iwakuni Friendship Day airshow. Fancy-Drill is a precision exhibition drill performance done by selected Air Cadets of the JMSDF that are stationed at Ozuki Air Base.
Parachute demonstration – Team Fastrax
Team Fastrax is the most ambitious professional parachute demonstration team in the world! With a team roster that has more than forty active members consisting of Armed Forces veterans and a culmination of more than 175,000 skydives they are sure to entertain. With authorization to jump into highly restricted airspace, Team Fastrax is the only civilian parachute demonstration team to have performed over Ground Zero on 9/11 in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., Independence Hall in Philadelphia, PA, and over the Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
Aerobatic Pilot – Whisky Papa
Masa Utsumi is the only air-show pilot who has an unrestricted flight level SAC card of ICAS (International Airshow Council) in Japan. His flying career has spanned over twenty-five years and he has been performing airshows at MCAS Iwakuni Friendship Day since 2010.
His super slow roll looks so easy that you may think you can start flying right away. And his competition style quick roll combination and vertical maneuvers make the audience stand on their feet with excitement. He competed in the Advanced World Aerobatic Championship (AWAC) in 2008, in Pendleton, USA, and 2010, in Radom, Poland, as a team Japan pilot.
Official Website: https://ja14wp.wixsite.com/home/
Aerobatic Pilot – Yoshihide Muroya
From childhood, Yoshihide Muroya aspired to become a pilot, and he started gliding in the aviation club after entering Chuo University.
In 2009, he became the first Asian pilot to participate in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship, a 3D motorsport series recognized by the Fédération AeronautInternational (FAI). In 2016, he won his first championship in Chiba. In 2017, he won four out of eight races to become the first Asian to win the overall title in the world series, a remarkable achievement as the annual champion in the top category of motorsports.
In Japan, he has been active in Fukushima Sky Park since 1999. Through his experiences during the Great East Japan Earthquake and interactions with local people, his attachment to his hometown of Fukushima has grown more robust, and he has actively supported reconstruction and nurturing the next generation. He has received numerous awards, including the Fukushima Prefecture Citizen’s Honor Award, Fukushima Sports Ambassador, and Fukushima City Citizen’s Honor Award.
He also promotes aviation sports throughout Japan by organizing air shows and events nationwide. In 2020, he was awarded the FAI Air Sports Medal on “Aeronautics Day.”
Official Website: http://yoshi-muroya.jp/
Photo courtesy of (c)LEXUS PATHFINDER AIR RACING Yusuke Kashiwazaki
The Marine Air-Ground Task Force demonstration
An action-packed demonstration that showcases the diversity and power of the Marine Corps. The MAGTF is the organizational structure of the Marine Corps and is made up of four elements: command, ground combat, aviation combat and combat service support. During the MAGTF demonstration, audiences will be thrilled with close air support, simulated aerial refueling and extended capabilities of Marine Corps assets to perform in expeditionary environments.
F-35B Lightning II
The world’s first short-takeoff, vertical landing (STOVL) stealth fighter returns to Friendship Day to perform aerial demonstrations. The F-35’s low observable stealth allows it to safely enter areas without being seen by radars that legacy fighters cannot evade. In addition to the ability to operate in austere environments, the F-35 brings the most powerful and comprehensive integrated sensor package of any fighter aircraft in history.
Pacific Air Forces’ F-16 Demonstration Team
Based at Misawa Air Base, Japan, the team promotes positive relations between the U.S. and nations across the Western Pacific. Flying the Air Force’s F-16 Fighting Falcon, they demonstrate the breathtaking power and maneuverability of the aircraft to the delight of aviation enthusiasts everywhere.
Japanese Aerobatics Team – White Arrows
The JMSDF aerobatic flight team is composed of the instructors of Air Training Squadron 201, who normally train aviation cadets in navigation techniques. They perform exhibition flights by four T-5 training aircraft for events and ceremonies.
Every JMSDF pilot is subject to training by the 201st Air Training Squadron. Approx. 100 personnel complete the course every year to engage in warning and surveillance, emergency transport, and other duties as aircraft pilots and tactical coordinators.