Cruz del Sur History

Cruz del Sur F-86F Sabre, from 1962 to 1985

The first formation flying in the Argentinian Air Force (Fuerza Aérea Argentina or FAA) began in 1950, when formations of two or three Gloster Meteor F.Mk.4 fighters from the VII Air Brigade in Moron Air Base near Buenos Aires, started performing simple maneuvers. The first public demonstration was at Buenos Aires Airport on April 10, 1951, when three Gloster Meteors performed aerobatics maneuvers in tight formation.

In November 1957, during Aviation Week at the Ezeiza Airport in Buenos Aires, the visiting USAF "Thunderbirds" performed a remarkable demonstration. The Fuerza Aérea Argentina also performed with a Gloster Meteor three-ship aerobatic team.

In 1961, both demonstration teams again performed in Buenos Aires, and the Argentina Air Force team mirrored the same maneuvers as the famous Thunderbirds, now equipped with F-100C Super Sabres. Later in 1961, the Commander in Chief of the Air Force was ordered to form an official aerobatic display team to perform during celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Fuerza Aérea Argentina's creation.

In 1962, the FAA's first "official" aerobatic team, named "Southern Cross" (Cruz del Sur – one of the Southern Hemisphere's constellations) and flying F-86F Sabre planes, was established from within the IV Air Brigade at Tamarindos, Mendoza. The Sabres were painted in very colorful paint scheme of silver, red, blue and yellow colors. On each plane's fuselage was written one of the star's names from the "Southern Cross" constellation. The team initially flew six Sabres for first demonstration which was in January 1962. Later a further five planes were painted in "Cruz del Sur" colors raising the overall team numbers to 11.

Another FAA aerobatic team flying three red, white and silver-painted Gloster Meteor aircraft was formed from No. 46 Squadron. The team was simply called "Squad 46". Due to the Argentina's internal political and military crisis in 1962-63, airshow events were cancelled across the country. The "Squad 46" team later gave a few further displays until they were eventually disbanded. The "Southern Cross" team continued to occasionally provide displays even without using team's name until 1985. A year later, all of Argentina's F-86 Sabres were retired.

In 1997, the Air Force authorities decided to reform the "Cruz del Sur" aerobatic display team. It was decided that eight Russian-built aerobatic Sukhoi SU-29 aircraft would be purchased for this purpose. Sukhoi built a special version of the SU-29AR for the FAA equipped with GPS system. The first two planes were delivered to Argentina on Oct 9, 1997. On November 12 of that year, the first SU-29AR piloted by Captain Maple landed at the team's home base of Mendoza.

On 15 March 1998, the new team performed for the first time during celebrations of the IV Air Brigade 49th anniversary but only with two aircraft.

On March 20, 1998, Cruz del Sur was again formed "officially" as a squadron with the specific task to perform acrobatic displays. Major Oscar A. Varela was appointed as the leader of the squadron along with two other pilots, Lieutenants Danilo Gustavo Luna and Soldera, who immediately started with their training.

The first demonstration with four aircraft was on July 7 at traditional parade of the Argentina Air Force Day in Moreno, while the first public exhibition was during the following day.

On September 22, the last two SU-29AR aircraft were delivered to the "Southern Cross" squadron.

On August 10, 1999, "Cruz del Sur" performed for the first time with five aircraft during Air Force parade at El Palomar and in November of that year the team made their first debut abroad by performing in Uruguay.

Thanks to Wagner Nascimento

Cruz del Sur F-86F Sabre, from 1962 to 1985 Cruz del Sur F-86F Sabre, from 1962 to 1985 Cruz del Sur F-86F Sabre, from 1962 to 1985 Cruz del Sur F-86F Sabre, from 1962 to 1985 Cruz del Sur F-86F Sabre, from 1962 to 1985 Cruz del Sur F-86F Sabre, from 1962 to 1985 Cruz del Sur Su-29AR from 1998 Cruz del Sur Su-29AR from 1998


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