by Master Sgt. Val Gempis
Air Force Print News
10/7/2003 - LANGKAWI, Malaysia
-- Rain did not dampen the spirits of Pacific Air Forces airmen showcasing their aircraft at the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace 2003 exhibition here Sept. 30 to Oct. 5.
LIMA is one of the biggest defense trade shows in the world and this year more than 800 companies from about 40 nations exhibited defense-related technology. Exhibits included security systems, radars, flight simulators, weapon systems, avionics, satellite communications, helicopters and modern fighter aircraft.
More than 100 aircraft and 80 vessels were on display during the six-day event. Aircraft included a KC-135 Stratotanker and an F-16 Fighting Falcon from PACAF. Also at the event were associated aircrew and ground-support people who took part in the aircraft static-display segments.
The group of U.S. airmen said they were very impressed with how the Malaysians opened their country and their hearts to them.
“I was amazed how easy it was to establish ******* with the local people and also with their military,” said 1st Lt. Jalaal Green from the 613th Contingency Response Group at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.
His team of 11 security forces, together with the Malaysian air force, worked hand-in-hand to provide aircraft protection 24-hours a day during the weeklong event. Even though they were soaked and dripping wet most of the time, they said it was a great experience to interact with forces from other nations.
“They are a very professional and astute force,” Green said.
“Communication is the key,” Green added. “Coordination with Malaysians was impressive. They gave us what we wanted and we gave them what they asked for.”
Even with bad weather and heavy traffic, people steadily streamed to the airport to view aircraft lined up on the tarmac.
Capt. Donna Kohout, an F-16 pilot from the PACAF Demonstration Team at Misawa Air Base, Japan, spent most of her day smiling and having her picture taken with brightly dressed visitors from all over the country. Children were especially attracted to her sleek black flight suit and her plane in the background. Some shyly asked if she really is a pilot.
While Kohout enjoyed visiting with the sightseers, she said she will most cherish meeting her counterparts from other nations. During a visit inside the exhibit center, she met a Russian Sukhoi-MK 30 test pilot. There were more photos and handshakes as she encountered other pilots wearing various military uniforms.
“It’s definitely the highlight of this trip,” she said.
The international array of airplanes and crews was a sight to see, but the aerial stunts were the definite attraction of LIMA 03.
“They didn’t pull back from the hardware and aircraft they brought here,” said Staff Sgt. Matt Dellaluca, a KC-135 boom operator from the 909th Air Refueling Squadron at Kadena AB, Japan. “The air show was just incredible.”
Dellaluca said watching a South African helicopter fly upside down while doing a loop was awesome. He also said it was nice to meet a Malaysian air refueler and learn how they do operations.
LIMA, which started in 1991, is held every two years here.