Yao, Japan Ground Self Defence Force Air Fest


Yao Airfield, Osaka 16 November 2014

Yao is a busy general aviation airfield that is also home to an Army helicopter unit. The air fest is a popular local event and, though the gates open early, started with an almost empty ramp dominated with a large grandstand for dignitaries. All became clearer around 0930 with a multi helicopter flypast in line astern, all parking on the cross runway. Multiple examples of the based Hueys, OH6s and more modern OH1s were complemented by a single Apache, Blackhawk and Cobra gunship. The only other visitor was a single Chinook on the active ramp. With the main ramp still fenced off the dense crowd was then entertained by mission demonstrations from most of the helicopters in front of the grandstand.

After about an hour these helicopters, most of which had been running continuously on the ground, repositioned to the ramp and, with customary efficiency, barriers were erected and the crowd released onto the ramp for closer inspection. A few token light aircraft were moved over from the civil side to boost the static display. The afternoon then included public rides in armoured vehicles and short flights in the Chinook which generated huge queues; the Chinook rides included parties of children and had possibly been pre-booked. Some civilian movements continued through the day. The hangar area was not open to the public though the preserved T34, mounted on a concrete bunker, was seen. The show provided a welcome opportunity to see JGSDF helicopters here as, on a normal day, they are a fair distance from the civil area.