Where? Kyushu, Japan
When? November 2012
The main reason for this visit to Nyutabaru in 2012 once again was of course the annual airshow, which is also covered on this site: Nyutabaru Airshow 2012.
But with the JASDF Aggressor Squadron, the F-15 Eagle Training Squadron and the 301 Hikotai, the "Phantom Mother Squadron", there is always plenty of action in the air and also the chance for some visiting aircraft from other airbases. You might even be tempted to call it a winter abode for the planespotter...
Local operational flying of the Aggressors - or officially the Hiko Kyodotai, which means Tactical Fighter Training Squadron – takes places two or three times a day. Each wave consists of 4 aircraft, and hopes are always high amongst the photographers that several different schemes will fly during the day. The jets are parked outside on the ramp and clearly visible, though if one is lucky or not can only be seen when the canopies are closing and the jets start to taxi. But photos are taken anyway, and all along the fence the photographers are getting nervous once they hear the certain howling of the F-15's engines during start-up.
Another eyecatcher are of course the F-4EJ Phantoms, always in full action and busy with air-air or air-ground training, though my experience from recent visits is that their numbers are already dwindling down in the numbers and each wave is not so large anymore. 8 Phantoms at a time are a sign of the past, but 4 Phantoms on the last chance are still a great sight! And of course you should enjoy them while you can!
It might sound spoiled, but with Phantoms and the stunning Aggressors it is hard to take pleasure in the vast amont of F-15J and F-15DJ Eagles of the 23 Hikotai, which is responsible for F-15 pilot training. They often fly with up to 8 aircraft at the same time, and do several touch&goes at the end of their training mission, but once you have seen them, you have seen them all. Personnally I ended up trying some panning shots, or saving frames on my camera on the second day...
Not far from Nyutabaru is Kanoya, the main base of the JMSDF. If you need a change from all that jet sound at Nyutabaru, head down South and enjoy the sight and sound of P-3 Orions and plenty of helicopters. From the photos you might see that I chose a day to do so when the weather was not so good:
Tsuiki is more to the North and the blue F-2A and F-2B are not to be missed, however it is a lengthy way to go and see the "Viper Zero" of the 6 Hikotai and the based Squadron of F-15s. Furthermore the weather can also be quite a contrast to the sunny Nyutabaru, as you might derive from these photos. It was thus only a short stop at Tsuiki this time compared to other trips trying to catch some of the F-2s.
To conclude this small report you can find here a selection of images in a higher resolution:
All of them can be seen following this link.
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