How about another airline that I don’t normally see? Tiger Taiwan operates a number of flights to Japan. I saw them both at Narita and at Hyakuri/Ibaraki. I figured I would share a couple of shots of their jets in service for those that haven’t seen them before.
The BAe125 (and all of the successor names) was a dominant biz jet for many years. It also found a few roles in military operations from transport, through trainer, to flight calibration and reconnaissance. The JASDF was one such operator with the aircraft designated U-125 in Japanese service. Hyakuri is home to a detachment and one of the jets flew during my visit. It taxied out and headed off on its mission.
Returning later on it was stopped in time to make the taxiway not far passed my location. The aircraft has a fairing underneath the fuselage for the search radar. The operator sits in the fuselage just above this location. They are also provided with a huge observation window for observing what is going on outside. Must be a good spot for taking pictures! I’m not jealous…
A feature of the Japanese countryside is the amount of rice that is growing everywhere you go. I was often amazed to see small sections of rice growing in little spaces between developments of buildings and homes. Further out, where there is more space, the rice fields are substantial. These rice fields were in Ibaraki prefecture. As the sun got lower in the sky, the tops of the plants caught the light nicely as they blew in the breeze. It had quite a peaceful feel to it all.
The taxiway at Hyakuri jinks around the shrine and consequently the towers we were on. This is probably an inconvenience the crews but this didn’t stop them from being friendly. The kids on the tower next to me waved at the crews and always got a wave back. I joined in too and waved whether the kids were there or not. I don’t think I ever failed to get a response!
I was on the wrong tower at Hyakuri when the crews came out on the recce ramp to crew up. Rather than get down and move around and potentially miss it, I accepted that shooting through the trees would have to do. The ground crew did their work efficiently and the flightcrew walked around the jet before jumping in. Soon they were powered up and coming towards us. This was early in the day and the beginning of a fun day out!
The UH-60 Black Hawk is a pretty neat helicopter but in the standard fit, it is not terribly exciting. However, I do like it when they are kitted up with a lot more stuff. The external stores support system makes them look very purposeful and a flight refueling probe is another good addition. The UH-60JA at Hyakuri had both with tanks fitted to the pylons. It was at the far end of the ramp so, when it took off, I couldn’t get anything worthwhile.
It returned later in the day and came almost directly overhead. Shooting a dark blue/gray helicopter looking straight up on a cloudy day is not a great combination but you aren’t going to ignore it. I wish it had flown a few patterns or even taxied by, but I guess it was not to be. Still, it was good to see it up close.
Any visit to a base includes time when nothing much is going on. This can be time to take a break, have a snack, text someone an update on how things are going or even nap. Or, you can take panoramas. In the morning the light on the ramp was not ideal. It improved later in the day. Even so, you never know how much stuff is going to be out at any one time so shoot while you can. You can always delete later. Here is a zoomable and pannable pano from Hyakuri.
These Phantoms were taxiing towards me from the ramp and they headed out to depart. As the came along the taxiway, I got a moment as they started to merge from my position and, briefly, there was a moment when one was hidden behind the other with the exception of the wings. For that second I had a Phantom bi-plane in front of me before the effect was gone. I consider this the rare Phantom II/IV!
Hyakuri might be a base for Phantoms but it also comes with a ton of Kawasaki T-4s. The JASDF allocate T-4s to the squadrons to provide utility and training so you see a few of them on each of the ramps in squadron markings. I think this was the first time I had seen a T-4 for real. Having seen so many images of them over the years, I felt like I must have seen them but I don’t think I have. It is an interesting looking jet. A lot of similarity to the configuration of the Alpha Jet with a high wing and twin engines. It seemed to have a reasonable level of performance. Interestingly, they taxied with the canopy open which is something I don’t think I have ever seen done with the Hawk. Maybe the air conditioning isn’t great on the ground or maybe they just like it!
Japanese jets have a reputation for interesting colors and, while the fighter units were pretty dull gray, the recce jets were far more interesting. Most of the flying jets I saw were in the blue camo scheme and they look very nice. One the first wave I saw, there was also a jet in green and brown camo. Sadly it only flew once and I messed up a bunch of my shots. The other scheme on the ramp was a green and grey scheme that looked a lot like the old German colors. Sadly, it stayed on the ramp the entire time I was there.