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Nyutabaru Airshow 2009

Where? Nyutabaru Air Base, Japan

Nyutabaru, Sunday morning, 6h30… Masses of cars are already queuing to get on the parking places, and even the first enthusiast are on their way to the south side of the airfield, carrying their stepladders and camera equipment.
It is time again for the Nyutabaru Airshow, amongst Japanese fans regarded as JASDF's premier airshow. But unfortunately this year the highlight of every show, the colourful F-15s of the Aggressor Squadron have to stay on the ground due to a grounding of the whole F-15 due to a landing mishap the previous Friday at Komatsu.

But nevertheless the show proved worth going, even if it was this year only for some Phantom action.

The gates open just in time for sunrise at 7am and give some time to stroll through the static display before the real start of the flight display at 9am. As an attraction for the locals this year even two US Marine Harriers and one F/A-18D took part in the static display and surely gave a good addition to the usual fleet of JSADF, JMSDF and JGSDF aircraft and helicopters.

But already before jet sound could be heard as pairs of UH-60 helicopters, T-4 trainers and F-4s performed their 'opening fly-bys'.

The static display and the nearby vendor's area was done in around one hour before I went to the south side of the airfield as well to get into a position for the flying display. Being there for some of the rehearsals the previous helped in finding a good spot.

Planned was the following programme for the show:

# 0745-0900 Opening fly-by, 2* UH-60, 2* U-125, 2* F-4EJkai, 2*F-15, 3* F-15, 2*T-4
# 0925-0940 Ground attack, 4*F-4EJkai
# 0945-1000 1*F-2(6sqn.)
# 1005-1020 2* F15(AGRS)
# 1030-1050 Rescue demo, 1*U-125A, 1*UH-60J
# 1155-1110 2*F-4EJkai(301sqn.)
# 1115-1130 1*F-15DJ(23sqn.)
# 1315-1355 Blue Impulse
# 1400-1445 Para.-drop from C-1

But due to the non-flying of the F-15s it got a bit sparse with a long break in the morning and even a 2h break around midday. Not very much, considering all the travelling from Europe to Japan, but of course I haven't only been there for this show and fortunately I was at the airfield the week before and saw at least some of the training flights of the Aggressors for their show display, presenting excellent topside views of their colorschemes.

The Ground attack demo of the Phantoms was also very nice, with two pairs of F-4EJ Kai flying different ground attack pattern releasing virtual weapons against their 'enemies' on the ground, which were shooting simulated ground-air guns at them.

Of course another favourite of me was also the blue F-2A of the 6th from Tsuiki that flew directly in from its homebase for the display. Several turns and climbs followed, which nicely showed the shape and colour of the aircraft against a brilliant blue sky.

Fortunately the gorgeous weather did not change through the whole day, and also not when it was time for two Phantoms to show off a small solo display. Worth mentioning is their shadow formation, remembering me of the Patrouille Suisse. Of course it were not as many aircraft, but two mighty Phantoms!

Blue Impulse performed also very well, taking big advantage of the contrast of their aircraft to the nice sky. Whereas their flying might not be directly compared with other display teams flying high performance jets, it was a very nice performance and for an European a rare sight. The final 3 fly-bys of the C-1 dropping parachutist took quite some time and delayed the long anticipated fly-out.

Compared to shows in other countries it is custom in Japan that all the visitors depart directly after the show, and thus giving an excellent opportunity to photograph the aircraft on the static display. Whereas the transport aircraft chose their regular take-offs, the jets either present their climb capabilities, or stay very low along the runway. Fortunatly most of the pilots preferred to do the last mentioned, with the special coloured "Red Dolphin" T-4 winning the 'competition'.

All the aircraft leaving within around one hour re-compensated for the non-flying of the F-15s and made my second visit to the Nyutabaru show once again very worthwhile!

And I like to conclude this report with best greetings to everyone I met at this show and had very interesting talks to!

At the end of the day I brought John, a fellow enthusiast from Canada whom I bumped into during the afternoon, back to Miyazaki, were I also returned my car at the airport for the 20:30pm flight back to Tokyo Haneda. And my stepladder had to stay once again in Japan... (however, the flight from Miyazaki back to Haneda might have been of the flights with most stepladders on-board ever ;) )


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