Republica de El Salvador
El Salvador Air Force / Fuerza Aérea Salvadoreña
El Salvador is the smallest and the most densely populated country in Central America. The country's capital city and largest city is San Salvador; Santa Ana and San Miguel are also important cultural and commercial centers in the country and in all of Central America. El Salvador borders the Pacific Ocean on the west, and the countries of Guatemala to the north and Honduras to the east. Its eastern-most region lies on the coast of the Gulf of Fonseca, opposite Nicaragua. As of 2009, El Salvador had a population of approximately 5,744,113 people, composed predominantly of Mestizos (mixed biracials of Native American/European ancestry) and Whites/Caucasians.
The colón was the official currency of El Salvador from 1892 to 2001, when it adopted the U.S. Dollar. In 2010 El Salvador ranked in the top 10 among Latin American countries in terms of the Human Development Index and in the top 3 in Central America (behind Costa Rica and Panama); because of this, the country is currently undergoing rapid industrialization.
El Salvador was explored and settled by the Spanish in the 16th century and remained a territory of Spain until 1821, when it joined Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua in a union named the Federal Republic of Central America. When this union dissolved in 1841, El Salvador maintained its own government until it joined Honduras and Nicaragua in 1896 to form the Greater Republic of Central America, which later dissolved in 1898. El Salvador's origins of human civilization date back to the Pipil people of Cuzcatlán, which means The Place of Precious Diamonds and Jewels. The people of El Salvador are variably referred to as Salvadoran or Salvadorian, while the term Cuzcatleco is commonly used to identify someone of Salvadoran heritage.
Fuerza Aérea Salvadoreña (FAS)
The birth of the FAS can be traced back to the World War I era. The first powered aircraft to visit El Salvador was a French Deperdussin in 1912. This inspired several salvadoreños, and it was not before long before the first one attempted to build an aircraft. Ordering the crucial parts from the United States, the first aircraft was assembled in El Salvador in August 1913. It took to the air at hacienda Colima and reached a height of 10 metres and a distance of 50 before it crashed. Another milestone was reached in January 1917 when the Mexican government donated two TNCA Serie A aircraft to El Salvador. After the flights made by salvadoreños in these aircraft in the course of 1917 and 1918, the era of aerobatics also broke in Central America and many demonstrations were given by foreign pilots after the First World War ended. An Italo-Salvadoran pilots' society was established in 1921 and 1922 saw a 500km long distance flight record by an army captain marking the keen interest of the military in manned flight. Subsequently, the Flotilla Aérea Salvadoreña was formed per decree on 20 March 1923 in this period of booming aviation interest.
The first aircraft to arrive for the Escuela de Aviación was a Curtiss JN-4D Jenny in 1924. This was followed a couple of years later by five Hanriot H320Et2s and one Breguet 14A and, in 1929, by four Waco Taperwings and one Waco Model F. The economic situation in the thirties made growth difficult, but more aircraft gradually arrived. A period of turmoil followed in the forties, with swift changes of government and command over the air force. Typical aircraft of the time were AT-6, BT-13, and the first two of many Dakotas (R4D-1 models). The fifties saw the arrival of more light aircraft, capable of being armed. By the end of the fifties a more serious impulse was received through the foreign military assistance programme of the United States, the backbone of the FAS was formed by twenty FG-1D Corsairs, apart from the Harvards in various subtypes. The Corsairs soldiered on for a decade. However, the state of these aircraft was worsening and by 1968 only five were in airworthy condition and at the same time the tension with Honduras was rising, prompting the acquisition of six Cavalier F-51 Mustang IIs and a single B-26B. These were all used to good effect along with the surviving Corsairs in the raids of the 100 hour war with Honduras in July 1969.
The first jets for FAS only arrived in the seventies when a number of CM170s and eighteen MD450s were received from Israel along with four Aravas, which were part of the deal. The eighties saw the arrival of the A-37 greatly enhancing the counter-insurgency possibilities of the FAS performed in close co-operation with Dakota, Huey and Hughes 500 gunships and the Special Forces. However, it was not until the late nineties before some newcomers could be welcomed again. Mostly light aircraft like T-35B Pillán trainers and Bell 407 and 412 (VIP) personnel transports. Therefore, the sharp end of FAS is still being formed by Dragonflies, Dakotas, O-2s, Hueys and Hughes 500s until today. Recent programmes include the upgrade of Huey helicopters to Super Huey II and the quest to find a replacement for the A-37 Dragonfly.