Ever wonder about the military planes flying in formation over Cozumel? They are Swiss-manufactured Pilatus PC-7s and are part of the Mexican Air Force’s Squadron 201 stationed here on the island.
The squadron was originally formed as a P-47D fighter squadron in 1945 and was named the Fuerza Aérea Expedicionaria Mexicana (Mexican Expeditionary Air Force), but more commonly referred to as the Aguilas Aztecas, or “Aztec Eagles.” It was made up of 25 aircraft, 34 pilots, and almost 300 ground support crew. They were trained in the US at Randolph field in San Antonio, Texas, Foster Army Field in Victoria, Texas, Pocatello Airbase in Idaho, Majors Field in Greenville, Texas, and Camp Stoneman in Pittsburg, California, from the summer of 1944 until the end of February, 1945. During the training, three of the Mexican pilots crashed their planes and died. When the squadron graduated and was presented its battle flag, it marked the first time Mexican troops had trained for overseas combat.