South Korea & Japan 2015
On Sunday 18 October the tour started during which we would combine visit to South Korea with a week in Japan. A report can be found here.
On Sunday 18 October the tour started during which we would combine visit to South Korea with a week in Japan. Two participants opted to do the South Korea part only and one participant chose for ‘Japan only’. In the end the group in Korea consisted of 11 people and in Japan the group size was 10. In the end many people chose to fly on their own. In the end the group consisted of a nice mixture of nationalities. In the end 6 participants flew from Schiphol to Seoul in the evening in a Korean Air Boeing 777.
The arrival was on Monday afternoon (19 October) in the afternoon. The procedure to go through customs, collecting the luggage and picking up the rental cars again took just a little longer than hopen for. This meant that we had to skip our plan to collect some wrecks & relics that same afternoon. On our way to the hotel, where we would meet the final participants, it became clear that the number of vehicles on Korean roads had gone up again from previous years.
Then it was Tuesday 20 October and we could start doing our thing. We drove towards Seongnam early in the morning. There was a lot of traffic on the road, so we had plenty of time to have a look at the huge quantities of anonymous and ugly appartment buildings. Without too many challenges we could enter the terrain of ADEX 2015 rather early. We wanted to be here on the day of the official opening ceremony since that ceremony always includes a impressive fly-past by the Republic of Korea Air Force. It was rather hazy / misty / smog-like today and the sun had a hard time breaking through. The Slam Eagle that performed 3 passes in the morning as some sort of weather flight, was hardly visible. Slowly the weather started to improve bit by bit and the Seongnam based aircraft did take off to take part in the fly-past. Eventually dozens of ROKAF aircraft (fighters, trainers and transporters) showed up from the stuff in the air. After the official opening the home-based aircraft started flying again too and we were able to capture a fair amount of transport and VIP aircraft as well as choppers. The limited flying program, only in the afternoon, was cancelled due to the weather. The USAF F-22 Raptor did take off but only made a couple of disappointing passes. Nevertheless it was a nice day, also due to the Seongnam based aircraft. Among other things we saw two ROKAF Hawker 800 / BAe125 / RC800s. At the end of the we managed to be allowed to remove the ribbons around the ROKAF F-4E in static display. The day ended with a traffic jam, a BBQ and a beer.
On Wednesday (21 October) we sort of like did the same. Have breakfast early and join the busy traffic towards Seongnam. Again we entered the show terrain well in time. The weather appeared to be rather comparable to the previous day. Again hazy / misty / smog-like. The home-based aircraft couldn’t care and were pretty active again in the morning. Very nice was the HS 748 as well as the many VIP choppers. Towards mid-day the weather didn’t look much better and the loudspeaker-man announced that the air show might be cancelled. We therefore cancelled our plans to go to the other side in the afternoon, waited for the Black Eagles to arrive and left after that. Happy with the result, but a little disappointed that we didn’t see some displays. At then took us a lot of time to get to Boramae Park in Seoul City. A number of preserved aircraft are positioned there and obviously we wanted to picture them.
On Thursday 22 October we were packed and ready to go at an early hour. Today we would be saying goodbye to Korea and travel to Japan. But, not before paying a visit to the enormous War Memorial Museum in Seoul. Quite a number of aircraft are preserved here. Apart from the aircraft the museum is impressive as well. After spending a couple of hours here the time had come to drive to Incheon. After handing in the cars we said goodbye to two participants and checked in for our flight to Narita. JAL took us to Japan and we landed there on schedule (at the end of the afternoon). The ‘new’ participant was able to find us soon so we were ready for our ride to Hamamatsu (heading for Gifu). Contrary to what we are used to from them, the rental car company did not appear to be very prepared. It all took just too long and it all went too unorganised. Therefore we could only depart from Narita an hour later than we had hoped for. Late in the evening, after a stop for food along the highway, we arrived at our hotel for the night and went straight to bed.
Friday 23 October started early again, obviously. We were in Hamamatsu, but the plan was to start our activities in Gifu. Therefore the day started with some driving again. On arrival at Gifu the sun was shining brightly and the first was consisted of five T-4s and one F-4. An Army Chinook and an Miho-based C-1 were there as visitors. After that it was a little quiet. That quiet period was used to visit the local museum. It stayed quiet for quite some time and the general preference was to trade in Gifu for Hamamatsu. So, around noon we drove towards Hamamatsu. When we got there, there was still a lot of activity on this Friday afternoon. We stayed until later in the afternoon to enjoy both the museum and the local T-4s. The hotel for the night was in Numazo, about two hours driving from Hamamatsu.
Saturday (24 October) would be somewhat relaxed day ‘in between’. We sort of slept in a little, took photos of Mount Fuji when we were relatively close by and bought our stepladders for the remainder of the tour. After that we drove to Yokota. Normally there is always something to be seen here on a Saturday. Today it looked very quite though and there were no Japanese photographers at all. After about an hour we gave up and decided to drive towards the Tokorazawa Aviation Museum. This is located in a park where lots of things were going on on this sunny Saturday. All aircraft and helicopters of the museum could be seen today. It was that busy that parking the cars was difficult. That difficult that in the end the cars have only been in the waiting line for the parking lot. Everybody had finished visiting the museum before the cars could eventually ended up at the entrance to the parking lot… After this museum we drove to our hotel for the night where we arrived at the end of the afternoon.
On Sunday 25 October we wanted to visit the air show at Hyakuri. With Phantoms is various colour schemes this is a base to look forward to. We were therefore very happy to have perfect weather, to arrive at a convenient time, to be able to park on a perfect spot and to find out that all other things seemed to be ok. The static was nice, the show very nice and the atmosphere very relaxed. Very interesting and special is the QRA demo. Everybody was able to enjoy the day a lot, both in the morning with the show as well as in the afternoon (on the other side of the runway by then) with the departure of the majority of the visitors. After we left we drove towards Yamato, in order to be at Atsugi fast the next morning.
Atsugi was our target for Monday 26 October. It was rediculously sunny again and we started the day with a number of take-offs (the numbercrunchers were up earlier that day of course today a had already done a round of checking). Unfortunately the Carrier Air Wing was not at home, but Atsugi always has a lot to offer anyway. After a USNavy P-8 Poseidon arrived they changed the runway direction and we drove to the other side of the base. The rest of the day they kept flying well and we had at least one aircraft in the circuit for the majority of the time. When the sun had almost set for the day we were satisfied and decided to drive to the next hotel.
The schedule for Tuesday (27 October) showed; Iruma. A quick look to the skies in the early morning confirmed that the weather status was still ‘very sunny’ and it would stay that way the rest of the day. Iruma has a lot to offer. Many different aircraft types, that mostly fly a lot. So they did today. Because of the air show that would take place soon after we werer treated to a demo by two C-1s. Because they appeared to be changing the barrier we accidentally ended at the wrong side in the afternoon. We decided to stay there anyway for the rest of the afternoon. Thay way, we could capture the C-130 that we met a lot of times (75-1077) very nice again. In the evening we drove to the hotel where we also spent the night from Saturday to Sunday.
Wednesday 28 October was basically the last day of the (not counting the return journey). For this day a second visit to Hyakuri was planned. And, yet again, the weather was perfect! We arrived at the base in time where the ever smaller appearing lady was eager to collect the yens before she opened the gate to the area with the well-known towers. It would turn out to be a day that you hope for; great weather, access to the towers, plenty of flying activity and Phantoms in various colour schemes. The latter went fully according to plan; we saw the grey ones (of 302) and all colours that 501 Hikotai has to offer wit hits RF-4Es. So, we also saw the one that was given a blue colour scheme recently. Add a bunch of Eagles, T-4s and some visitors to that and you have a great day! After making sure that flying was over for the day we drove towards Narita. The cars were handed in and we had the last dinner as a group. The group would start thinning out this evening and we said goodbye tot the first people already.
On Thursday 29 October the time had come to fly back again. Korean Air took us back to Amsterdam according to schedule (via Incheon). The Korean A330 landed at Schiphol at the beginning of the evening and after collecting the luggage everybody went his own way, with numerous interesting new experiences!