Sapporo Okadama Airport, Hokkaido Prefecture, Japan --
Marines with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 262 (Reinforced), 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, showcased two MV-22 Ospreys as static displays during the Sapporo Air Show at Sapporo Okadama Airport, July 20.
The Marine pilots and crew members flew from Okinawa July 18 and made stops at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni and Yokota Air Base before arriving at Sapporo July 19. More than 20,000 spectators arrived at the airport to view approximately two dozen American and Japanese commercial and military aircraft. The 24th Sapporo Air Show is a biannual event that included flights from various platforms flying as low as 400 meters over the crowd.
“Many people here are curious about the Osprey,” said Sgt. Sachi Mizoi, a public relations specialist with the Japan Ground Self Defense Force, and a native of Hokkaido Prefecture, Japan. “This is the largest number of people we’ve had come to the air show. They want to see the Osprey.”
To support the air show, the Osprey flew north of Tokyo for the first time since arriving in Okinawa in 2012.
In addition to the Ospreys, the U.S. Navy sent two MH-60S Seahawks helicopters. The remaining military aircraft were from the Japanese Defense Force.
Spectators ran to see the Ospreys as soon as the doors opened.
“It is very important to have the Ospreys at air shows because it allows the people to get a closer look at the aircraft,” said Staff Sgt. Shival N. Ramroop, an airframes hydraulic mechanic with VMM-262 (REIN), 31st MEU, and a native of Bogota, New Jersey. “It affects their views in a positive way because they can understand a little bit more of what the aircraft can do.”
The Sapporo Organizing Committee, and its chairman Yoshiro Ito, invited the Marines to bring the Osprey to Sapporo.
This event allowed the public to engage with Marines and familiarize themselves with something they might have seen at a distance, according to Capt. Kris Hansen, a pilot with VMM-262 (REIN), 31st MEU, and a native of Tustin, California.
“People were very eager to see the aircraft, touch it, talk to us, and were extremely friendly; we had very gracious hosts we here in Sapporo,” said Hansen.
While there were many smiles from children and guests throughout the venue, the impact of the event had far greater meaning to the two militaries.
“(This was) a great day for the alliance, and it was because of the hard work of all the service members, and the governments of Japan and the United States,” according to Maj. Gen. Andrew W. O’Donnell Jr., the deputy commander of United States Forces, Japan. “We want to show the Japanese public what we do and why our alliance is so important. The Osprey is a great aircraft and we hope that more countries will get involved with the plane and break new grounds with what it can do.”