Montana Air National Guard hosts International Air Cadets

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Daniel Butterfield
  • 120th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The 120th Airlift Wing, Montana Air National Guard, hosted more than 25 members of the International Air Cadet Exchange for a visit July 29, 2019. The cadets, most in their late teens, hailed from Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, United Kingdom, Netherlands, and the United States.

During the tour they attended a mission brief, climbed into a static UH-1N “Huey” helicopter from the 40th Helicopter Squadron, Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., practiced their flying skills on a C-130 simulator, and took an orientation flight above Montana aboard a C-130 aircraft.

The group began their tour July 23. After arriving in Washington, D.C., the cadets flew to Kalispell, Montana and spent a few days exploring the state before arriving in Great Falls. So far it has been an eye-opening experience for the cadets.

“The military here is completely vast compared to the United Kingdom, and it’s fantastic how open you are to sharing with others,” said Josh Clegg, a 19-year-old cadet from Yorkshire, U.K.

And it’s not just the military experiences that stood out to the cadets. “Definitely the scenery, the scenery and the weather has been completely different to the U.K. In the U.K. it’s about 12 degrees (54 degrees Fahrenheit). So it’s absolutely brilliant here. It’s nice to see that some people have actually got some tan arms. And the people, so friendly around here as well,” said Clegg.

“It is a lifetime experience for most of them and something they take back to their countries and share with families and friends promoting good alliances in the future and the love for aviation,” said Maj. Tirso Pena, 120th Airlift Wing Chief of Safety, who coordinated the visit to the 120th AW. Pena has a history with the organization having joined the Civil Air Patrol in 1990 and attended an IACE event in Sweden in 1994. “That multi-cultural experience with young aviation enthusiasts from different countries motivated me to join the Air Force later on,” said Pena.

After the visit to Great Falls, the group visited Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, and finished up their Rocky Mountain tour at the U. S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, before heading back to Washington, D.C. on August 6.

The purpose of the IACE is to plan and run an annual, world-wide exchange for aviation-minded young people every summer. Its members are drawn from 18 countries and each year more than 500 young people are given the opportunity to participate.

For more information about the International Air Cadet Exchange visit