Japan 2008 Trip

Article Index

Thum 17The Tsuiki area still looked very familiar and the spot at the dam was found within minutes. Clouds were still hiding the sun, but the signs for a blue sky lay ahead. We even heard some engine sound of the F-2s, shortly followed by the distinctive howl of the F-15s.

 

Thum 18Unfortunately the engines were shot down after around 30 minutes again and the clouds stayed persistently in front of the sun. This all was not good and we suddenly feared to bump into a cold and dark non-flying day.

Thum 19

That was fortified by the fact that the guys of the runway tower returned after a single T-4 came in to land...

Though around 8 the first local spotters arrived and hopes rose again that some nice photos should finally be possible at this place, where we had bad luck twice during our last trip. Then, finally, engines started again around half an hour earlier, the sun came out, the runway tower and the last chance were populated again, and the first aircraft appeared around 9am and put the start to an excellent day of spotting.

Mistubishi F-2A

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Thum 22The first aircraft were 4 F-2A, followed twice by 4 local F-15s. All of them taxied by in an excellent morning light with the ocean in the background and made many many photos possible! They were all equipped in a long range tank configuration and stayed out for more than 90 minutes. In the time between we chatted with the local spotters that knew very well about the German football team and Jürgen Klinsmann and Oliver Kahn. All aircraft nearly returned together when the sun was still out. The fliying directions has changed at that time, preventing landing shots with the ocean in the background, but providing the chance to photograph the F-2s with their breaking chute still deployed.

Tsuiki based F-15 Eagles

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Thum 21

Thum 20

The same number of jets left for a second round shortly before midday. But the light was not very good at that time and the take-off direction was still 'against' us, so there was no possibility to get any decent photos. We thought about leaving to Fukuoka for the flight to Naha in the evening, but not before a final tour around the airfield to look for some other spots. This tour was not successful though we discovered a specially erected visitors hill on the south-western corner of the airfield. Nice to look, but not very good for photography during that time of the day. When we were there, it was nearly time for the jets to come back and after some light showers the sun was about to come again. So, after a quick decision, we returned to the dam for the landings and caught some of the jets with light and the water in the background, as the direction was changed once again in the time between.

T-4s

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Thum 23

Success in Tsuiki! And we did not care about the lonely T-4 that taxied out while we were already on the way back to our car. The drive to Fukuoka on the motorway was uneventful besides the stop at a service area where we had a last tasty meal along a motorway for this trip, as we returned the car shortly afterwards and would not use another for the rest of the stay in Japan.

 

Thum 24

Thum 26

The flight to Naha on-board a JAL B737-500 brought us out of the gray Kyuhsu into a warm and, at that time, dark, Okinawa with temperatures around 20°C in the middle of the night. From the airport we took the Naha monorail to our hostel for the next three days. Finding Burney's B&B was though a bit hard, but with the help of a friendly woman we finally found it and moved into our cosy room. Fortunately we spend a bit more money on this accommodation and did not choose one of the 'holes in the wall', where several other people were already sleeping.

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