(Reading time: 9 - 17 minutes)

Friday morning was gorgeous: the sun was shedding its first rays above the bamboo trees, which made a huge difference to the previous day, and one Orion already had its engines turning. This aircraft then left at7:20am, nicely illuminated by the rising sun, but then it became quiet again. Busses turned up along the runway and brought people for a FOD check, and then it became quiet again.

At least it was warm and I got time to get into position for the photo that I eagerly wanted to get at Kanoya. And there was also plenty of time to read a book, until after around two hours after the first take-off that day the helicopters started their flying. The chosen spot was a bit too far off for these, but some fly-bys were not too bad.

Then it was time again to read the book with looks at the base every now and then to see some activity. And suddenly I saw some, but not on the base, but in the background several miles away: the Sakurajima volcano was spitting clouds of ashes hundreds of meters high in the sky, and these eruptions were still clearly visible at Kanoya. On one hand I was hoping that it was not getting worse, but and the other I was also hoping that I would continue as Sakurajima was my destination for the late afternoon.

That also killed my time while waiting for further P-3C Orions to leave. Finally four of them did, but they were also difficult to catch due to the heat haze and their sometimes high climb rate. But as some more were leaving in quick succession I had at least some chances to change my photo positions.
Then it got quiet again, but fortunately the runway direction was changed in the meantime, enabling the photos that I have been waiting for hours (on that day, not counting the experience at the airfield one year earlier). It even got better when a YS-11 appeared in the circuit to land at Kanoya.

Getting this shot I was nearly ready to leave, but of course I also wanted to have some Orions from this spot. When the first one came in for a full-stop landing I was a bit disappointed, but it did not return to a parking position, but taxied back for another take-off. And with the YS-11 also leaving shortly afterwards and all the other Orions performing several touch&goes upon their return I was more than happy at Kanoya and left in the early afternoon.

The trip to the youth hostel in Kirishima then brought my way along the Sakurajima vulcano and some nice photo spots. It was still smoking and spitting some ash clouds in the evening sky from time to time, but he did so very peacefully and for the locals it was obviously nothing thrilling, as they just want quietly after their daily business. But for me it was very exciting to drive so close by this vulcano!!

The hostel at Kirishima was chosen because I wanted to visit the Kirishima mountains the next day, where amongst others parts of the James Bond movie "You only live twice" were filmed. The hostel was excellent, even with a sulphur Onsen on the roof, giving a nice view of the starry sky, the nearby shrine and even the Sakurajima in the far distance! What a way to finish an exhausting week of spotting and to prepare for the final two and half days in Japan.

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Meiringen WK 2017

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Meiringen Swiss Air Force WK 2017
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When? March 2017

Alpine Base Meiringen offers a gorgeous setting The airfield is nestled in a small valley in central Switzerland in the canton of Bern. Surrounded by mountains that partly rise up vertically for several hundred meters it is challenging flying terrain, but provides plenty of photo opportunities. Meiringen is the home of the Swiss Air Force's Fliegerstaffel 11 "Tigers", one of Switzerland three F/A-18 Hornet Squadrons, and is also home to the militia Squadron 8 "Destructors" ("Vandalos"), flying the F-5E Tiger II.

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NATO Days Ostrava

(Reading time: 3 - 5 minutes)

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Where? Ostrava, Czech Republic
When? 22-23/09/2012

What a show! MiG-29 Dogfight, M2000 "Ramex Delta", 2x Su-22 Fitter in formation flight, Eurofighter displays, the Red Arrows... Twelve years after its first edition the NATO Days at Ostrava were a stunning event.

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Yak-3U in the snow

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Yak-3U D-FLAK

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Besides the Yak-3 D-FJAK of Achim and Elmar Meier the D-FLAK of Maxi Gainza is the second Russian warbrid that has been based at Freiburg, right in the middle between the Black Forrest and the river Rhein. The D-FLAK, as the Yak-3U (c/n 0470202) is registered in Germany, is also a equipped with a powerfull Allsion V-1710 V-12 engine, but offers in contrast to the one with the red cowling a second seat behind the pilot, who also has complete flight controls available.

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