Wow, amazing... already in the darkness at 6am people were streaming into the airshow ground, only to be stopped by the numerous souvenir and food stands - and the famous rope blocking off the static display area.
Where? Tsuiki AB, Kyushu, Japan
The opening formation started taking off around 7:30am, and did some fly-bys in bad weather, even before the public was actually allowed to get in - exactly at 8am. What happens there is hard to describe: my Japanese friends call it the "Airshow rush". The whole crowd (hundreds of people even at that early time) waiting for more than an hour starts running towards the fence to secure the best places, no matter what or who is in their way. So this is not the place where you would stumble and the running gets especially challenging if you have your heavy photo equipment on your back or track a card with your stuff - all that for about 600-700m.
Fortunately most Japanese see a spot in front of "Blue Impulse" as the best option, but I did otherwise standing a bit more to the side in order to get some nice taxi shots of the participating aircraft. The masses of people at the show can be roughly estimated from the next photos:
The actual flying program started with a SAR demo of U-125 and UH-60, followed by a JGSDF AH-64D Apache, which was very high on my wish list. Unfortunately the sun stayed behind the clouds during this period of time, as it was also the case for most of the morning. It only started clearing up during the afternoon.
The F-4EJ Phantom came in once again directly from Nyutabaru and did some fly-bys. Nothing special due to the weather - however it was a Phantom display! - and I did not press the trigger very often.
The F-2 solo display was also 'blessed' with a grey sky as was the two-ship of the F-15J 'Igru'.
The latter was very interesting with fly-bys over the crowd, tight turns around the static display area, thus not comparable to the demonstrations that are usually shown around Europe with dedicated aerobatic parts and photo fly-bys for the public.
The rather long lunch break was used for some (many hundreds yen of...) shopping and catching up the fabulous atmosphere, before the SAR demo started another time, followed by arming up two F-15s, directly in front of my camera lens.
Another very nice topic was the F-2 base attack. Three F-2A and one F-2B did some flying and the photographers were hoping for the breaks, but they did not happen as often as wished - at least not in the right directions - and it was once again overcast. But the taxiing was very nice as well as the take-offs, and it was more than good to see these blue aircraft in the air!
The main attraction in the afternoon was the formation fly-by of 4x F-2 and 4x F-15, with one F-15 performing some turns and climbs. The best thing of this demo were once again the take-off and landings of the participants, which finally caught some sunlight, so after my third time in Tsuiki I finally got some rays of sun and did not get wet by the rain pouring down...
Three T-7 came in to do two fly-bys in different formations. Nothing special and a good opportunity to go and look for another photo spot for the "Blue Impulse" team, which was flying afterwards.
A cloudless blue sky dominated the performance of JASDF's display team "Blue Impuls", which I photographed from the outside in order to catch the airshow departures as well.
Unfortunately the static display this year was very sparse and the only fast jet, a 'shark-mouthed' RF-4E from Hyakuri, departed the Monday - thus too late for me...
The Static Display was not as good as last year, with especially an F-4EJ Phantom and a E-2C Hawkeye missing, which left remarkable gaps in the line-up. The walk along the line was thus quickly done and the time used to get some detail photos of the locally based F-15s and F-2s:
After the end of the show I was in the car already very early at around 4pm and started the drive to Fukuoka. Before going to bed for an early flight the next day the 'typical' atmosphere of a big Japanese city provided a good finish for another nice trip to the land of the rising sun.Thank you for rating this article.