Nyutabaru AB Open House Report

Sunday 19th December 2010

Nyutabaru AB is located north of the city of Miyazaki on the Island of Kyushu in the south of Japan. The annual Open House is usually held in December and the weather is typical of winters in the east coast of Japan - cold with clear blue skies which, along with the low winter sun, makes for ideal photo conditions. The base area open to the public is located on the north side, which would result in difficult shooting conditions. For the enthusiasts which chose to watch the show from outside the base on the south side, a new runway close to the fence meant this years show provided almost perfect opportunities to view and photo the wide range of aircraft types arriving, the fighter air displays and departing aircraft during the day.

Mike Leonard shares his experience of another Japanese airshow.

As many enthusiasts know Nyutabaru is an extremely busy fighter base with very active F-4 Phantom and F-15 Eagle Squadrons and of course the "Hiko Kyodotai", otherwise known as the JASDF Aggressors which fly a collection of uniquely brightly camouflaged Eagles whose designs change fairly frequently.

Its Open House is famous for the impressive fighter displays from the based aircraft, usually a visiting F-2 and this year a Misawa based F-16 also featured in the display schedule. Its location close to Iwakuni also means that the airshow usually attracts a few US Marines F-18s or AV-8B Harriers for the static display. In an attempt not to be outdone in the colourful fighter department this year, the attending Hornets featured the unique CAG schemes belonging to VMFA-242 "Bats" and VMFA-224 "Bengals".

Opening the flying display were flights from all the based squadrons. Launching singularly and in pairs plus utilizing a mix of dry and afterburner takeoffs, the formation returned in a "M" to represent this years theme of promotion - Miyazaki tourism.

Following the opening flyby was an impressive ACM display by a pair of based Phantoms. Not being outdone by the F-4s were two brightly camouflaged Eagles from the based Aggressor Squadron - both sporting colour schemes that were new this year. They provided numerous topside photo opportunities to the awaiting photographers who sought unique shots of fighters wearing something other than the standard grey scheme. Next up was a F-15 solo display from another of the based Eagle Squadrons, thankfully sporting special anniversary markings - once again providing opportunities to catch topside shots.

After the obligatory rescue demo from a based U-125 and UH-60 pair it was the turn of yet another attractively painted aircraft - an Tsuiki based F-2 which flew in direct to perform yet another impressive fighter display, including a demonstration of its ground attack role.

Still the fighter displays hadn't finished. Now it was the turn for four of the based F-4 Phantoms to taxi and take off in pairs. Complete with a tight combat break after a formation flyby, they proceeded to give a series of high 'G' demonstrations.

Highly anticipated by the local spotters is any display by a non-Japanese Air Force aircraft. The crowd was lucky to be treated to the F-16 demo team flying a Misawa based Fighting Falcon which gave an impressive demo of it's capabilities and the awesome manoeuvrability of the aircraft.

In a change of pace the next item was a parachute display from an Iruma based C-1, which was yet another opportunity to watch an attractive camouflaged aircraft in the perfect sunlight!

After the 'usual' Blue Impulse display it was time for what is normally one of the highlights of show in Japan - the visiting aircraft departure. The take-off of the US Marines CAG Hornets was highly anticipated - unfortunately (for the people on base) they departed after most of the crowds had dispersed. For those viewing off-base, in beautiful evening light, the F-18s were a treat to watch.

At sundown, the last visitors departed - a pair of WW tailcoded F-16s from Misawa AB making this literally dawn to dusk fighter activity! A perfect end to the year and an unforgettable day for this reporter.