Tsuiki Air Base, Kyushu, 30 November 2014
The large southern island of Kyushu is home to two of the largest fighter bases in Japan. Their southerly latitude dictates their airshow date so late in the year. Only Naha, Okinawa opens later in the year; much further south.
Tsuiki is home to 6 Hikotai flying the indigenous Misubushi F2 and 304 Hikotai with the license built F15 Eagle. Both units have the usual complement of T4 two-seaters for base transport and training plus a few H60s for SAR cover. Both types were on show in quantity with the light being generally better in the afternoon. Unfortunately, despite a bright morning, heavy rain washed out much of the afternoon display.
A variety of Air Force and Army types were on display around the perimeter of the ramp though only a sole P3 Orion represented the Navy. A children’s ride took visitors past two open shelters for those enthusiasts bold enough to queue up with the toddler brigade.
2014 saw the 60th Anniversary of the JASDF leading to various special markings being applied. On previous major anniversaries these schemes have endured but this year they seem to have been short lived with some of those seen earlier in the year reverting to standard colours soon after.
The relaxed and hospitable nature of service personnel makes Japanese airshows a real pleasure to attend despite the dense crowds they attract. It is certainly worth photographing from the edge of the public area very early as, by 0900 the crowd, and their blankets, may be ten deep; particularly near the Blue Impulse if attending.
On a standard flying day Tsuiki is blessed with one of the best approach locations for aircraft on taxi or touchdown, albeit on a precipitous harbour wall. If the landings are from the coast side this is a ‘must see’ location for the keen fast jet photographer.