U.S., Kyrgyz celebrate 78th Anniversary of General Aviation
Airmen and Manas International Airport employees compete in a 100-meter dash as part of a sports competition at the Transit Center at Manas commemorating the 78th Anniversary of General Aviation in Kyrgyzstan Oct. 7. The day’s other sporting events included soccer, volleyball, weightlifting, tug-of-war and a pull-up competition. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Patrick Maciejewski)
U.S., Kyrgyz celebrate 78th Anniversary of General Aviation



by Tech. Sgt. Tammie Moore
376th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs


10/10/2011 - TRANSIT CENTER AT MANAS, Kyrgyzstan -- American Airmen and Manas International Airport employees participated in a sports competition at the Transit Center at Manas commemorating the 78th Anniversary of General Aviation in Kyrgyzstan Oct. 7.

"Today is our main holiday of civilian aviation," said Azamat Bekturganov, MIA security services inspector. "It is a holiday for everyone who works here."

To celebrate the holiday, MIA officials invited Airmen from the Transit Center to participate in a sports day with them.

"It's extremely rewarding to have this much fun and at the same time further the U.S. government's vital mission in the region," said Capt. Michael Povilus, Theater Security Cooperation Social Cultural Branch chief. "Here in the Kyrgyz Republic, every Airman can make a positive impact on the mission as an ambassador in blue."

The day's events included soccer, volleyball, weightlifting, a 100-meter dash, tug-of-war and a pull-up competition.

"Every year we have this tournament to build friendship," Bekturganov said. "At work we can't see each other but here we can all socialize and get to know each other."

More than 270 people participated in the festivities.

"It is nice to see aviation through all of these years and how it develops," Bekturganov said. "I hope this tournament continues every year and I hope (Americans) keep coming."

It is not uncommon for MIA employees and Transit Center Airmen to participate in sporting events together.

"We maintain a monthly sports exchange with MIA employees," Povilus said. "The Transit Center operational missions require the vital support our of Kyrgyz partners, especially those at MIA. Maintaining a good friendship away from the airport is equally as vital as when executing the Central Command mission. As such, the healthy competition of sport acts as a common language with which we strengthen our already very strong partnership and mutual respect."

After the sporting events ended, MIA employees and Transit Center Airmen enjoyed a traditional Kyrgyz meal.

"At the end of the day, winning isn't what's important, but rather participating alongside friends and coworkers," said Povilus, deployed here from Robins Air Force Base, Ga.