Peruvian Air Force Day Date in the current year: July 23, 2024

Peruvian Air Force Day Peruvian Air Force Day (Día de la Fuerza Aérea del Perú) is a public holiday in Peru celebrated annually on July 23. It was created to commemorate the heroic sacrifice of the Peruvian Air Force fighter pilot José Quiñones Gonzales.

The Peruvian Air Force (Fuerza Aérea del Perú, FAP) is one of the three branches of the Peruvian Armed Forces, alongside the Peruvian Army and the Peruvian Navy. It was established on May 20, 1929 as a result of the merger of the Army and Navy aviation units into the Peruvian Aviation Corps (Cuerpo de Aviación del Perú, CAP). In 1936, the corps was renamed the Peruvian Aeronautical Corps (Cuerpo Aeronáutico del Perú, also abbreviated CAP).

The FAP received its current name in 1950, when it was reorganized during the presidency of General Manuel A. Odría. Throughout the 1950s, Peru sided with the United States, and the FAP was predominantly equipped with American and British aircraft. However, relations between Peru and the United States deteriorated following the 1968 Peruvian coup d’état led by Juan Velasco Alvarado. Alvarado sided with the Eastern Bloc, and the FAP started to deteriorate since it became impossible to obtain American spare parts. In the 1970s, Peru acquired aircraft from the Soviet Union.

Relations between Peru and the United States improved after the collapse of the Peruvian military government in 1980s, but economic difficulties led to budget cuts and the downsizing of the FAP. The situation has somewhat improved over the past couple of decades. Today, the FAP has aircraft (combat, reconnaissance, transport, training, refueling) and helicopters made in Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine, and the United States.

Since its establishment, the FAP has participated in the Colombia-Peru War (1932-1933), the Ecuadorian-Peruvian War (1941), the Paquisha War (1981), the Falklands War (1982), the Cenepa War (1995), and the internal conflict between the government of Peru and guerrilla organizations (ongoing since 2000).

Instead of commemorating the founding anniversary of the FAP, Peruvian Air Force Day commemorates the heroic sacrifice of José Quiñones Gonzales, a military aviator who gave his life in the Battle of Zarumilla during the Ecuadorian-Peruvian War.

On July 23, 1941, Lieutenant Quiñones participated in an air raid against Ecuadorian forces at the Ecuadorian post of Quebrada Seca. During the raid, his aircraft was hit by ground fire from an Ecuadorian anti-aircraft artillery battery. Instead of parachuting to safety, Quiñones crashed his damaged aircraft onto the battery, rendering it out of action and allowing the rest of the Peruvian aircraft to continue with their mission.

Quiñones’s ultimate sacrifice didn’t go unnoticed. He was posthumously promoted to the rank of Captain of the Peruvian Air Force and declared a national hero of Peru in 1966. In 1991, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of his heroic death, Quiñones was promoted to the Grand Air Marshal of Peru.

Finally, in 2023, the death anniversary José Quiñones Gonzales was declared Peruvian Air Force Day. The main goals of the holiday are to pay tribute to Quiñones’s heroic sacrifice, encourage Peruvians to know their history and their heroes, and celebrate the achievements of the Peruvian Air Force and its role in national defense.

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Peruvian Air Force Day, public holidays, professional observances, holidays in Peru, José Quiñones Gonzales