Loads of rain pouring down from a grey sky, that was the Tsuiki Airshow in 2005 – and unfortunately 2009 should not be that different. However the day started with a nice sunrise, the symbol of the Japanese flag gleaming through a thin layer of clouds on the horizon. It was at around 7:30am that the opening flight started with a formation of a T-4, F-15 and F-2, circling above the heads of the people that were still waiting outside while the jets performed well and were being illuminated by the rising sun.
Where? Tsuiki AB, Japan
At 8am permission was granted to waiting crowds to enter the showground, and the rush to the fence that followed cannot easily be described with words... Some however did not prefer the first row, but went for some of the 50th anniversary patches that were sold as a limited edition item.
Queuing for them did not leave much time to head forth for the first items of the flight display, which was a rescue demo by a U-125A and an UH-60J. The sun was still out and finally provided some sunny shots of the darkblue helicopter, that I have been after for quite a long time now. The same goes for the JGSDF AH-1S Cobra, which followed just afterwards.
The jets were next with a F-4EJ Kai Phantom that flew in directly from Nyutabaru, and a display of three Tsuiki based F-15J Eagles of 304 Hikotai. The jets did some really nice manoeuvring right above and for the crowed, but during this display also a mishap happened as one F-15 lost parts of its horizontal stabilizer during the demo. Due to this all F-15-flying was suspended for the rest of the day and the whole JASDF F-15 fleet also grounded for the following next two days, which also influenced the rest of my trip to Japan.
The rest of the morning was dominated by the F-2s, doing a solo display routine with two aircraft, nicely presenting their aircraft to the crowd, and furthermore two other F-2s flying several ground attack patterns, which is the intended role of this jet as a maritime strike platform. Unfortunately the sky has at this time already been dark grey, voiding the nice effect of the two-tone camouflage scheme completely out.
A long lunch break gave enough time to photograph the static display and stroll through the food and merchandising area – which was an expensive trip for me this time, with all the souvenirs that could be bought… Furthermore there was a traditional Japanese music band performing in one of the aircraft hangars and it was also possible to have a close look at the special painted F-2A (53-8535), celebrating the 50th anniversary of 6 Hikotai. For this occasion the tail has been painted in F-1 and F-86 camouflage with several other spots around the airframe commemorating the different aircraft that the squadron flew in its history.
For the afternoon a fly-by of 4xF-2 and 4xF-15 was planned, but had to be cancelled due to the events in the morning. The photos you can see here have been taken on the Saturday during the rehearsal for the airshow.
As already shown Blue Impuls therefore performed a bit earlier, but as the sky was really dark it was time for me to leave early and look for good position for the fly-out of the visitors, which was rewarded with some nice shots of the Hyakuri-based RF-4E and F-4EJ Phantoms.
Though the weather has not been very good once again, Tsuiki has been a nice event again also because of the well-known faces that I met there again. With sunshine this show must offer unlimited photo possibilities. Maybe at another day for me...
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