Friendship Day Flashback

FD Flashback

friendship day flashback

Aaron Pylinski | Community Writer
This year marks the 42nd anniversary of the JMSDF/MCAS Iwakuni Friendship Day. This joint open house airshow is arguably the largest single-day airshow in the world and hands down one of the most dynamic events in Japan. This is the fourth year that the airshow is hosted as a joint endeavor with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) and MCAS Iwakuni. This continues the ever-growing partnership between Japanese and American forces in the area and solidifies our commitment to our host nation to be open stewards to the people of Japan.

There is plenty to look forward to at this year’s Friendship Day including a military uniform pageant between the JMSDF, the U.S. Marine Corps, and the U.S. Navy where each service will showcase their uniforms. Ferrari will be here under our first-ever chalet bringing along 50 cars to put on display.

One of the most anticipated displays this year is the F-35B demonstration with the aircraft on static display and in flight for the crowd to enjoy. Unfortunately, there won't be the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) aerobatic team, Blue Impulse this year.

In its stead, there is a strongman who can pull a 747, but since we won’t have a jumbo jet on hand for the airshow, he will test his strength pulling a C-130 instead. There will be upwards of 40 static displays in all, lots of food, and plenty of merchandise and souvenirs for purchase.

Average Attendance:


Compared to other air shows around the world

Miramar, USA (3-day event): 233,000 daily

Abbotsford International Air Show, Canada: (3-day event): 125,000 daily

Paris Air Show, France (7-day event, only on odd years): 46,000 daily

Royal International Air Tattoo, UK (2-day event): 20,000 daily



The most anticipated item on our list of aerial displays at a glance:

Cost per Aircraft:est. $122.8M

Max Speed:Mach 1.6

Armament: GAU-22/A quad-barrel cannon and various bombs and missiles dependent on mission

Electronic Warfare:The F-35B is capable of jamming enemy radar systems

Historically, Friendship Day has been the premiere event for MCAS Iwakuni, and it takes a lot of work to put it on. Prior to 2001, the Friendship Day Air Show predominantly showcased American military aircraft.

Colonel Dave Darrah took command of the station in 2001, and two years later he gave direction to make Friendship Day look more like the air show in Miramar which includes a mix of military aircraft from all U.S. Services, and civilian and historical aircraft as well. Once those orders were in place, the station began to attract more civilian acts like Yoshi Muroya from Red Bull Air Racing and the Breitling Jet Team, the largest civilian aerobatic display team in Europe. As our attendance started to rise, MCCS assumed a larger role in accomplishing tasks on station for the larger production.

Everything from man hours to dollars, this airshow requires all hands on deck and long hours to make Friendship Day a success every year. There is an increase of the services activities on station open for everyone including both North and Southside Marine Marts, Burger King, Subway, and Taco Bell at the Crossroads Food Court, Starbucks at Torii Pines Town Center, and the CDC is open from 5 AM - 7 PM.

This year will be a large production much like many of the Friendship Days in the past. MCCS is on course to facilitate the over 200,000 people anticipated to attend. We look forward to everyone enjoying the event and continuing a long-standing tradition of friendship and fellowship in the Iwakuni community.

Highlights for this year:

The Golden Knights:

U.S. Army’s Aerial Parachute Demonstration Team

Yoshihide “Yoshi” Muroya

from the Red Bull Air Race, will be showing off his world-renowned aerial skills.

Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF)

will be doing a kinetic display of military vehicles and equipment.

Friendship Day fact:

Employee hours to set up, operate, and tear down: 3,705

If the minimum wage was $15 per hour, it would cost $205,905,375 to pay each employee to work the event.

At the current Japanese Yen rate, that would cost ¥22,096,838,270.81.

MCCS Employee Support for Friendship Day 2017: 568, that’s roughly two squadrons worth of Marines.