Japan 2008 Trip

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EarlyAfter a really cold night in the car – the windows were even frozen… - we woke up at around 6am near the airfield and saw to our surprise that the roads were already getting crowded with cars and even at the nearby parking the snack stands were already preparing their food! When we got out of the car we earned some amazed looks of the Japanese that were also spending their nights at this place. No wonder, as we were the only Europeans there.
FoodOne guy, still hidden in the dark of his car, was asking us:"Where do you come from?" "From Germany", we replied, and then he showed his face, smiling, and said "I am from Japan" We had a good laugh with him and a nice chat as he helped us a lot to get the final steps of organizing the day at the show: how to get there, how to come back, what to take with us, how many time it willl take, and so on… But somehow after a lot of thinking we decided to get two hot coffees from the nearby dispenser, grab our stuff and walk to the gate. On our way we saw the sunrise and the first rays of sun felt comfortably warm in our freezing faces.

 

0730As we arrived at the gate we obviously did not wonder that we were not the first ones to be there, and at around 7am the traffic jam along the road had already build up!
The ordered queue in front of the gate soon converted into a disordered pack of aviation fans and when the gates opened at half past seven (if I remember correctly), everybody Staticrushed in to get the best place in the first row. We felt happy at first to set our feet on the holy grounds of Japan's Superbase Nyutabaru and looked at the shrine gate: "Welcome to Nyutabaru". Finally we made it!!!

Luckily the few enthusiasts running in front of us preferred to position their chairs in front of the Blue Impulse demonstration team, giving us the chance to get our photos of all the aircraft in the static display without people being in the way. Less than half an hour later we would not have had any chance to so.

a first look around...

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Nophoto

So we rushed through the ground exhibition, photographed the F-4- and F-15-exhibition and get some shots of the aircraft parked along the fence line. This was quite good: RF-4E, F-2, C-130, E-2, T-7 and many more aircraft of the huge variety of JASDF aircraft were present. Even some special coloured ones were sent to the show and we have been extremely pleased about the YS-11 and C-1 in special colours.

 

Static Display

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Gateguards (F-4, T-2, F-104, F-84)

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FrogUnfortunately the light was not good from the morning on for the photos and became even worse during the day, so we still took some photos of the gate guards (extensive collection including an Aggressor T-2 and also an F-4EJ Kai) and left the airbase again after one hour. Without any souvenirs or whatever as we did not have any time to Maskslook for them...

That was quite a short visit for an airbase that we always wanted to see, but getting on the other side of the airfield to get some nice shots of the flying display was more important to us.
The transfer to the southern side of the airfield was no problem and we soon found a nice place on our stepladders along the fence, ready for the flying display.

BreakThe first highlight was a formation flight of all the Nyutabaru based squadrons: the rescue squadron showed a formation of their UH-60 helicopter and the T-125, and then a formation of 12 aircraft flew overhead. 3x T-4, 3x 301Sqn. F-4EJ Phantoms, 3x 23(Training)Sqn. F-15s and of course the Aggressor F-15s. Excellent to see them all flying and getting good shots of each on the runway for take-off and landing!

 

Formation Fly-Bys

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Lenses


Throughout the rest of the day we got to see the 'usual' JASDF flight displays: solo displays of the based jet aircraft (=F-4 and F-15) and the Aggressor Squadron showed an excellent performance with two of their colourful F-15J Eagles, turning nicely above our heads in the deep blue sky with full afterburner. What a sight, and the camera did not stop clicking!

 

F-15 Aggressor Squadron Display

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F-15J solo demo

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FenceDuring lunch we got some nice noodles of the snack bar, that was installed nearby. There was also some other interesting stuff, but after closer inspection it seemd to be some kind of calamari and we stayed with the familiar food.

In the afternoon 3 Phantoms (4 were planned…) also showed an airfield attack demonstration, presenting different attack profiles, which were very interesting to watch. Then there was also a rescue demo by the UH-60 helicopter and the T-125 that was ok, but after some circles of the aircraft and the helicopter a bit boring to photograph.
A mostly welcomed visitor was also the blue Mitsubishi F-2A that flew in directly from Tsuiki for the display and disappeared directly afterwards again.

Phantom Base Attack

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Rescue Demo

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F-4EJ Kai performance demonstration

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F-2A solo display

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Ice

The parachutists were a real surprise as there were being dropped out of the special coloured C-1 that we saw earlier in the static display. So we also got nice photos of this aircraft, and of course the Blue Impulse with their T-4 were performing at the end of the show. The display is not really spectacular compared to other teams, but it was a pleasure to finally see them on such a beautiful day turning around my head.

 

C-1 - 2 TAG special colours

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Blue Impulse - JASDF Aerial Demonstration Team

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When the show was over most people were already on the way to their car, but we decided to stay a little bit longer and see if there were still some departures (on a Sunday afternoon!). Fortunately our expectations were not disappointed, though the runway direction has been changed in the time between, and some of the highlights of the static display were still photographed in the air.

Airshow Departures

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FahrtWhen the last aircraft had left we were quite exhausted and could not believe that after such a cold night it was nearly possible to stand around in T-Shirt during the day. With the setting sun it became however cold again and we got in the car to start the drive towards Kagoshima, where we wanted to be the next day.

Before going to Kagoshima we planned to spent the night at a youth hostel in Kirishima. The drive on the motorway was good, because despite the speed limitation to 50km/h nearly everyone was going 100 and we made good progress.

Kirishima was a strange place: there was a huge shrine, a kind of monastery and somehow it did not look really Japanese up there in the mountains. The phone number of the hostel for that night was accepted by the navigation system, but when we got to this point, there was none…! To make a long story short, we found a business hotel in the nearby Kirishima (city), where it was also smelling from sulphur everywhere. Later we learned that this city is very well known for its healthy hot baths and spa as well and even a James Bond movie ("You only live twice") was filmed there.

Kirishima and the nice Sushi Bar

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For dinner we were looking for a restaurant, but the first one we bumped in only offered places on the floor, so we took the (only) other one, which was a Sushi bar. By the help of our language guide we got some nice and fresh prepared sushi and had great fun with the cook and the two ladies sitting right beside us. Somehow we did not get rid of the feeling that we were the first Europeans there, at least for a long time.

The hot shower in the warm hotel room was a real pleasure after the freezing night before!

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