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Where? Tsuiki - Japan
Another big event and one reason for our trip: the Farewell Show of the Mitsubishi F-1 at Tsuiki.
Unfortunately the rain did continue dropping on the roof when we woke up in our cold room on the rice mattress. Though it was still 5am we got up quite quick and left the hostel half an hour later. Getting up that early turned out to be a good decision as the parking was already well occupied at 6.30 despite all the rain still pouring down.
We were flabbergasted because of so many people at that time and with that weather!!! Later on we found in the program that the flying was scheduled to begin at 8am, so the early arrival was clearer to us.
But at first we sat down in our car and were waiting. Waiting for the rain to stop, the sun to come out, drinking some coffee and we were also really unsure about what to do. As the windscreen got foggy we finally decided to get "combat-ready", packed the full equipment (bag packs, raincoats, stepladders) and took a shuttle bus that brought us on the other side of the runway were the apron and the static display was. This proofed to be a good decision because the rain decreased from time to time and the flying really started at 8am.
The weather changed a lot that morning, from some sunny spells during which we ran around and tried to get some photos of the static display, to rain pouring down. During that time we searched for cover in of the hangars right beside an F-1 and even met some Japanese friends that we knew from European shows. We had a nice chat and tried to make the best of the day, as everyone else did as well. At least the show was not that crowded as Iruma and everything was more familiar. In between the rain I also headed out and was looking for some F-1 patches, but unfortunately the rare "Last year" ones had been sold out to the one in the queue standing just one meter in the front of me :(…
Farewell Mitsubishi F-1
Fly-Out Update: on March, 9th 2006 six Mitsubishi F-1 took off from Tsuiki airbase for the last time shortly before reaching 4000 flight hours on the respective airframes. With their landing the nearly 30 year long history of this aircraft uniquely employed within the JASDF came to an end.
Just like the rare opening formation of an F-1, F-2 and F-15, representing the three jet types based at Tsuiki, most of the flight display in the morning was either cancelled or regarded from the hangar. Fortunately a bit later it at least stopped raining and we headed out to place ourselves in front of a row of seven F-1. That was really great because they should participate in the flight display and we could closely look at the start-up preparations, which was one of the highlights of that show. Excellent as well was the two-ship demo of the F-15J Eagles with a marvellous take-off and great fly-bys. Two F-15 also taxied towards the crowd line in the afternoon and a weapon loading demonstration (4x Sidewinders and 4x Sparrows) was presented. After it was completed they did not take-off, but taxied back to their parking positions.
Unfortunately the whole flight display was interrupted by showers during which we ran for cover to the shelters and back when we heard some jet engines again. Due to this it was impossible to get the blue F-2 with sun, the same was for all displays of the F-1, with the exception of the last jet taxiing back after the last flight display of the day. One shed of sunlight nicely illuminated the green and brown camouflage and we were happy!! Hours of cold rain from above were forgotten, even if it stated shortly afterwards once again. But at least we could get some more photos of the static display in the meantime and leaving the show was a bit easier for us after we knew that we got at least some nice photos at one of the most important stops during our trip!
Of course we were in the last bus back to the parking and used the possibility to take some photos of the F-2 flightline right beside the road. On the parking we had severe problems locating our car at first but finally found it, because there were not that many cars left.
What a show… We were soaked with water, I was looking at the torn back of my trousers (the only one which I took with me for the warm south), Patrick at his socks, and Florian at both of us. Then we tried to arrange our stuff in the car the best to let it dry until the next day and drove out of the airfield. As we took the same way as with the bus some minutes ago we drove really slowly and made some quick stops taking photos of F-15s and a stored F-1 and T-33.
Then it was time to hit the road again. Fortunately it was only around 4pm and we first stopped at a supermarket. To our surprise the prices there were a lot cheaper than in the convenient stores which we only knew until that time and we used the possibility to by water, chips, cookies, even some fruits, beer and also found some pizza. On the parking Florian dropped his proudly purchased piece on the parking and we had a good laugh on that.
The 150km drive on country roads took us 5h with a small break to get something to eat at a the most delicious "Hokka Hokka Tei". In the middle of nowhere we entered the take-away shop and three Japanese girls stared at the three of us, marked by an exhausting airshow day and I had problems to hide my torn trousers. With a lot of laughing and showing around the menu we succeeded to get some good tasting "bentos" with meat from the wok and rice.
The following part of the trip through the night was hard, especially for Patrick, who nearly got sick because Andreas was driving quite peppy through all the curves. At least until he demanded a driver's change and proceeded in the same way. Of course we also listened to our three favourite CDs during these long hours on the road. If it wouldn't have been dark that part would also have been very scenic, but in the night we could unfortunately only get a small idea of the deep valleys through which we were driving.
Close to Nyutabaru we found the "Sunrise" love hotel (7000 Yen) and a look at the sky showed stars, which was very very promising for the next day. Our room that evening was fitted with a Polaroid machine that time, which we did not inspect closely and preferred to go to bed, because once again we had to get up early.
[This report is also part of the Japan Trip Report]
Published: 09 May 2007