Japan Air Self-Defence Force Open Day 2019

Iruma Base JASDF F-4 Phantom II aircraft
A JASDF F-4 Phantom II.

In November 2019, the Iruma Base opened to the public. It was a Japan Air Self-Defence Force open day event. With an opportunity to get close to some famous aircraft, aviation enthusiasts turned up in droves. I was one of them.

When the gates opened, everyone made a beeline for the big three: an F-4 Phantom II, a Mitsubishi F-2, and an F-15. It was my first time, so I joined the line.

Blue Impulse Kawasaki T-4 on Iruma Base tarmac
One of the Blue Impulse Kawasaki T-4s.

Of course, it was hard to get good photos with so many people swarming around the planes. So it was a patience game of waiting for a space to open. Once one did, I had to move quickly.

Mitsubishi F-15J fighter on Iruma Base tarmac
A Mitsubishi F-15J fighter.

After I finished photographing the aircraft on the ground, it was time to enjoy the ones in the sky. There were high-speed passes by jets. We saw a Chinook doing a water drop. Kawasaki T-4s buzzed the crowd, and there were paratroop drops. It was exciting!

Kawasaki C-1 transport aircraft flying
A Kawasaki C-1 transport.

On the tarmac, jets were only five hundred meters from where I was standing. When they started up, the noise was incredible. I had never heard jet engines close up before. No one seemed to mind, though. It was a part of the fun.

Mitsubishi F-2 aircraft on Iruma Base tarmac
A Mitsubishi F-2.

And there were displays in the hangars. There were parachutes, various engines, and other equipment that the Japan Air Self-Defence Force used. If you had time, you could line up with hundreds of other people to sit in the cockpit of a Kawasaki T-4 jet trainer. Fun stuff, especially for kids.

Japanese paratroopers jumping
Paratroopers on the way down.

At this event, one thing surprised me but wasn’t aircraft-related at all. It was the number of cameras! There were so many. And most of them had enormous lenses. My 55-200 mm lens looked small against everything else. So many people in the crowd had lenses well over 200 mm!

taxiing Kawasaki T-4 canopy open
Another Kawasaki T-4.

The Japan Air Self-Defence Force Open Day 2019 was an entertaining event to watch. The only complaint I could make was crowd management, which was extremely poor. Paths were poorly marked, with few staff directing the enormous flow of people when leaving. Hopefully, next year’s event will see this improved. Other than that, the show was brilliant! I can’t wait to go to the next one.

What Japan Air Self-Defence Force aircraft did I see?

  • Boeing CH-47 Chinook
  • British Aerospace 125
  • F-4EJ Phantom
  • F-15 Eagle
  • Kawasaki C-1
  • Kawasaki C-2
  • Kawasaki T-4 jet trainer 
  • Lockheed C-130 Hercules
  • Mitsubishi F-2
  • NAMC YS-11
  • Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk

What photo gear did I use for these pictures?

Camera Body: Fujifilm X-T2

Lenses: 

  • Fufjilm XF 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR
  • Fujifilm XF 55-200 mm f/3.5-4.8 R LM OIS

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