Naha Air Show

The show in Naha was the main goal during this trip to Japan in 2008, so the expectations were very high as 2008 marked the last year of active 302 Sqn. operations at Naha, and this Squadron is still flying the F-4EJ!
But the weather forecast was not good at all many days in advance already and when we made our way to the airport the sky was already full of clouds and there was no sign that it would get better during the day.

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Where? Naha, Okinawa, Japan
When? 14/12/2008

This report is an excerpt of the Japan Trip report 2008 that can also soon be found on this site.

N9... Finding the entrance to the show a bit later was no problem as there was already a queue of people waiting to get in. And many of them also brought their stepladders by plane to Naha, but of course not the whole way from Europe.

N2Whereas everybody was very mannered at the beginning the rush started once the gates opened for the public and everybody was running in. Being fit really helped a lot, because the way from the gate to the apron was loooooooong.

Preparations for the flying took already place just in front of the crowdline and we decided to stay there and get a good place close to the action with a nice view to the runway. Rushing through the static display did not make any sense because the barriers were very close to the aircraft and we photographed most of the jets on Friday during their arrival in nice sunshine.

Good Bye Okinawa - special coloured Phantom 37-8322

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N5

The line-up consisted of 3 T-4, 4 F-4EJ, 2 F-15J and the Blue Impulse team. Both Eagles were from the 204 Squadron at Hyakuri that is going to replace the Phantoms at Naha from April 2009 on.

 

Naha Phantoms

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starting the flight display

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302 Sqn. F-4EJ Kai Phantoms

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N3N6Regarding the flight display I unfortunately have to say that it was one of the worst I have ever seen on an airshow. This not due to the weather, but mainly to the high civil traffic, which obviously has priority. Therefore the flight display of any jet or helicopter consisted only of a take-off, some (2-3) fly-bys in different configurations with variable pauses in-between, and the landing. Nothing spectacular…

 

The first act was a formation of the local Naha T-4s and F-4s, followed by some fly-bys of a P-3C Orion. The local helicopters - a Chinook, a SAR Blackhawk and ??? - also started their engines for some flying. Their circling around was however very far away and the three helicopters had such a great separation that it was not possible to get all three of them in the frame.

T-4s, also in formation with Phantoms

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Helicopter fly-by

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P-3C Orion flight display

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N11Action on the groud was provided by the weapon loading demonstration of 2 Phantoms. After the aircraft came back from their flying displays the grouncrews were ready to load them with the full air-air weaponery consisting of 4 short range missiles (AAM-3 or AIM-9L) and 4 AIM-7 Sparrows.
In the meantime the pilots were standing on the side and waiting. After a scramble the rushed to their aircraft, started the aircraft and taxied away... to their final parking position far away from the crowd. At least this demo gave the possibility to take some close-up action photos of the Phantoms!

Weapon loading demonstration

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N7The lunch break was really long, but gave enough time to explore the static display, the souvenir stands and the food court. This time we were lucky and found several patches, even one that sold the "Good-bye Naha Phantom" patch. One for ~15€! We only bought one and decided to spend the rest of our money for patches of other aircraft and squadrons that we saw during our time in Japan. And there are a lot of them… When we returned along the row I still discovered a "Phly-Out" t-shirt that one of the vendors was wearing. Of course I was asking for it and after some discussion I found out that he was wearing the last one of these T-shirts – and he was kind enough to sell me this one :)

 

Static Display - first impressions

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all the colorful aircraft on the ground:

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there was also a lot more to see...

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N10Food was good as well and after getting it we sat down a bit to just watch and enjoy what was going on in front of us. In a hangar we discovered a Phantom that was displayed for a functional display (retracting gear, hook and so on) and took some nice close-up and detail photos of this bird. In the afternoon only Blue Impulse performed with some fly-bys and very cloudy skies. Nothing spectacular after the display one week earlier at a sunny Nyutabaru.

 

Blue Impulse

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At half past three - shortly before it got dark - 2 F-15s of the successor Squadron at Naha, the 204 Hikotai, took off together with 2 Phantoms from Naha and performed fly-bys in different configurations. Quite nice, but the best part were the aferburner take-offs of the Eagles.

Successors at Naha: F-15s of 204 Hikotai

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Old and the new together in the air

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N12

Just after the end of the display it got even cloudier and we prepared to make our way back to the airport. Before leaving the airfield we left our stepladders at the airfield, which have then been already for the second time in Japan. But we ambitious to bring them the whole way back to Germany, regarding the effort of carrying them through the Tokyo underground.

 

Civil traffic that day at Naha

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All things considered the show itself was therefore nothing special, but combined with the fly-in on the sunny Friday the aviation part of the trip to Naha was excellent nonetheless.

 

Photos of the arrivals day and the show itself are also published on some other websites in a higher resolution:

 

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