Aircraft Spotting in Japan - Akeno-Komaki-Gifu
Page 17 of 22
Day 16, Akeno - Komaki - Gifu, 14/11
Fortunately the hotel was right beside the airfield in Akeno, and we therefore slept a bit longer. But unfortunately the weather was only slightly better than three days ago, but fortunately there was more flying activity! Until half past nine we got some photos of AH-1 Cobras and the OH-1 and OH-6 observation helicopters. It did not appear that the weather would get any better we decided to give Komaki a third and final try.
The driving to Komaki was around 2h and shortly after we have arrived two RF-4Es took of. Unfortunately the light was not perfect yet, but at least there was some flying activity. A F-2A without squadron markings also came out from the Mitsubishi plant and started for a test flight.
In the far distance we were able to spot two of the Mitsubishi T-1s and it seemed that the ground crews were preparing both of them for a flight, which was the case!! During one of the our last days we still got the chance to see two of them. Two C-130 Hercules on the ramp showed up as well shortly afterwards, one in blue and the other in green/grey camouflage. Before the 2 T-1 started, we furthermore got the chance to photograph a F-15. While waiting for all of them to come back a F-4EJ Phantom of the nearby Gifu Flight Test Centre performed a low approach and we could not await to go there also once again.
The F-2 and both T-1 landed with sun finally shining, and they did not even have left the runway when we were on our way to Gifu. This time we did not need the navigation and knew quite well where to drive and how much time it would take.
Though Gifu is not that far away from Komaki the weather was not that perfect there with a lot of clouds, but there were two F-4s in the pattern, a T-4 and an F-15 came in and - to our big surprise - we also had the chance to photograph a T-2. This example must have been one of last ones of this type that is still airworthy! We also encountered some kind of strange vegetation there that attached its seeds to our trousers and it was very hard not to have them everywhere in our car. After the T-2 landing we also decided to stand on the hill on the other side of the road. That place was a lot better for photography, but unfortunately the sun was gone at around 4pm and we went once again to the museum. Not for photography, but Florian and I still had too much money left and we knew that we could some nice aircraft and souvenir stuff there. I only bought two Japanese Phantom model kits and a coffee mug, but the salesgirl smiled a lot more to Florian…
Gifu - Flight Test Centre
Finally all three of us smiled as well after this day, which was not bad at all. We got some helicopters, even not perfect but better than nothing, C-130s and the two T-1s with sun, and some nice stuff at Gifu. Everything without a single control. Maybe we would have a comparable successful day tomorrow at Hamamatsu? But before taking more photos we had to find a place to sleep. For the last time we decided to go to a youth hostel near Hamamatsu, so we relaxed cruised back towards Tokyo, the same way that we arrived the night before. Getting to the hostel was once again a catastrophe, of course. The maps in the guide are really #*$§%§& and we were happy that this was the last hostel to find! That time, after a lot of asking, we were escorted by two friendly Japanese and they showed us the way with their car. Very polite - at the Youth Hostel we thanked them hearty with a deep bow. The check-in was a bit different, because this was the first hostel where they asked for our passes; until now we have thought that they had been useless.
For diner we went back into town and wanted to have a pizza for a change, until we realized that they are a lot more expensive than Japanese food here in Europe. So once again our choice was the McDonald's. Interpreting the giggling three girls behind the counter we were the first Europeans there.
Getting back to the hostel I accepted the bet to find back to the hostel within 15 minutes. Unfortunately I relied a bit to much on the navigation system of our car and suddenly we were on the football court of a school?! But after a total of 20 minutes we were back and Florian was quite impressed. The bunk beds were also furnished with rice mats, but fortunately we already had enough experience to avoid an aching back the next day…