Aircraft Spotting in Japan - Hamamatsu

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Day 17, Hamamatsu - Atsugi, 15/11

Hama 3Waking up at 6:30am that day was a real pleasure, the sun was already shining into our room. Should we be even more lucky today than yesterday? However our first action that day when getting into the car was to symbolically destroy the hated Youth Hostel guide. We would not need it anymore, anytime. Fortunately!
Hama 5Along the coastline we drove to Hamamatsu and enjoyed another scenic part of Japan. The weather was fine and we already saw some T-4s circling around the airfield. A spot was found quickly that offered a good view on two parked E-767, a type that we eagerly wanted to photograph there, as well as the rare V-107 helicopter. Furthermore there was another T-1 behind the AWACS aircraft, but it turned out that they were only doing engine tests on that one. The control patrol was quite fast there, but once again we had no problemsHama 6After checking our passports they stayed I their car for some time, but left then. We continued taking numerous photos of T-4s because the light was really nice and we could experiment a bit without the risk of loosing a shot. After some time we heard thy typical helicopter rotor noise and were curious if this was the V-107, a license-build CH-46, or something else? Furthermore there was now also activity onone of the E-767! Hama 4Shortly afterwards the V-107 came outfrom behind the hangars and started hovering along the taxiway. It was still quite far away, but just in range of our 500mm lenses. Patrick was just about to change a roll of film, when the helicopter finally took off right over us. Fortunately he still managed to get some shots, but was not that happy about it. The same goes for me, because I missed a nice photo opportunity for a C-1 take-off. I was too slow this time, and just enjoyed the view. As there no more activity on the 767 we decided to go to the museum.

Hamamatsu

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Hama 8The museum at Hamamatsu is the official JASDF Museum and has a lot of interesting exhibits. The exposition is split up in two hangars, one of them contains view boards, cut-away aircraft, a library and so on, and the other one, which was the more interesting for us, is full of aircraft. Form a Zero to the F-2 there is every aircraft or helicopter included that the JASDF flew in its history. We were amazed to even already a see a V-107 in the museum. The same type that we just photographed outside. The same goes for the T-1 and clearly showed us that this very special Air Force is going to loose a lot of interesting aircraft in the near future. Unfortunately we did not have a lot of time and rushed through the hall and furthermore did not forget the aircraft parked outside: C-46, Blue Impulse F-86 and an F-104J. While photographing we always had a look outside through the glass facade in order not to miss an interesting aircraft.

JASDF Museum

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Hama 2We then hurried back to the spot were we have been in the morning, and within 10 minutes the B-767 started to taxi. Right in front of us and we were able to get perfect photos of this rare type. That was really surprising, because in all of the reports that we read beforehand everyone wrote that this is one of the hardest aircraft to get. Maybe, but not for us ;)
Afterwards another V-107 started to hover, but did not take-off. As we were rally happy with that airfield as well, we hit the road to have at least a look at Atsuigi.

Hamamatsu

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Hama 7Driving this highway for the third time we had once again no look to descry Mt. Fuji because of clouds preventing a clear, so at least that is a reason for us to go back one time.
Getting to Atsugi was difficult, because a lot of traffic lights slowed the traffic really down once we got off the highway. It was cloudy as well there, but there was some activity. Not a lot, as the carrier was off-shore for training mission, but we saw some US Navy F-18F Super Hornets, C-2A Greyhounds and Japanese YS-11 and P-3s. It was already dark and gray, and I was shooting at ISO800, so I did not really make a lot of sense. But being there I wanted at least to get some photos.

NAF Atsugi

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When it got really senseless we started the last long leg of our trip:
Hama 11Hama 12Passing Tokyo and going to Hyakuri. That should be all right, because we already knew the surroundings of Hyakuri well - even knew that we would not find a hotel nearby and therefore already mentally prepared to sleep in the car - and getting to Tokyo on Friday was no problem as well.
But today everything should be different. Monday evening, 2 accidents and traffic jams all along our way through this megapolis. The 50km through the city took us 3 hours!!! At least we had an automatic car and nerves of steel. The traffic jam also gave me the Hya 4time to Hama 10have a look and our navigation system, and I finally found out how to activate the guidanceto waypoints. On our last day… The drive to Hyakuri was relaxed and we had dinner at a Japanese Denny's. Unfortunately they did not have burgers as anywhere else, but also noodle soup and everything that we rather did not want to have there. After another short stop at a 7/11 to get some beer and Sake we found the parking place near the airbase (and right besides a golf range) really fast and prepared our bivouac in the car. The night was silent, only Florian heard some birds padding on the roof. It was cold and narrow in the car once again, but at least there was a coffee distributor within some meters for the next morning…

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