Aircraft Spotting in Japan - Nyuta-Kanoya
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Day 9, Nyutabaru - Kanoya, 07/11
After the disappointment the day before it seemed that we were lucky once more. When we left the hotel the sky was clear and we headed towards the airfield. From narratives we knew about a spot that is only suitable in the morning for 1 ½ hours, but excellent for head-on photos of the jets, that turn afterwards nicely into the sun.
Already at 7am we did found it and the sun was rising behind some trees. The first rays of warming sunlight felt really good, and even better was still the crowded ramp with the F-4 and F-15 squadrons at Nyutabaru, among them the famous coloured Aggressors of the "Hiko Kyodotai". It did not take very long until the security appeared from the inside and the outside and the usual procedure started. Of course only the three of us were controlled, the other Japanese spotters were standing unaffected besides us…
The first aircraft of the day was a T-4 which was very useful because we could adjust our position at the fence afterwards and were well prepared for the 3 Phantoms that followed shortly afterwards. "Only" 4 Aggressors came afterwards and while they were on the last chance the first F-4 already returned and performed several touch-and-goes. It was quite busy, but the sun was already turning around and we went back to the car to be on our next spot for the return of the F-15s. They returned 45 minutes later, unfortunately with no go-arounds. During the morning several more normal F-15s and F-4 flew their missions and it became hazy. We discussed with some Japanese spotters and they were not sure if the Aggressors would fly once more in the afternoon because there was also night-flying scheduled for that day. Therefore we decided spontaneously to go to Kanoya at midday.
Nyutabaru - The morning spot
Eagle Aggressors and Phantoms
The few kilometres to Kanoya took us 2 ½ hours due to a lot of traffic lights and the country roads. Shortly before arriving at our southernmost destination I had a look at the GPS is it indicated an air-line distance to Misawa, our northest point, of 1400km. That's Munich-Madrid, a journey through Europe.
At first we did visit the Navy museum there which includes very interesting exhibits: inside the Museum there is among interesting historic facts that are solely explained in Japanese, a Zero and the main exhibit at the outside is the huge Kawanishi H8K "Emily" flying boat. We also saw another Shin Meiwa there, Kawasaki license-built P-2J and P2V-7 Neptunes, a C-46 and a Tracker amongst others.
Kanoya - Navy Museum
Then we hurried up to have a look at the JMSDF base nearby as we already saw helicopters circling above our heads during the stay in the museum. When we arrived there we say that a P-3 Orion was just returning home from its mission and was cleaned in a huge washer. We hasted to get out the car and take some photos of it. Standing at the fence it did not take even a minute until our observers arrived. These were the fastest ones during our whole trip for sure. The check and the following conversation were relaxed and the next 45 minutes the most dense during the whole trip: as it was late in the afternoon all the based aircraft were returning on after another: Orions, SH-60s, OH-6s and we even saw a Coast Guard YS-11. And everything in perfect light, until the sun disappeared.
It was then time for us to get back as well and really exhausted we returned to Nyutabaru.
With the colourful F-15, the F-4s and all the Navy aircraft this has been the most multifaceted day of our trip. And even though Patrick did not feel very well he was happy about the results as well. For supper we had a hot soup once again and decided to stay in the same hotel as the night before. Unfortunately we arrived there already at 9, but could not enter the room before 10pm. So we still had to wait for one hour in the cold car. While waiting I even fell asleep after that perfect day!