Tokyobling's Blog

Iruma Base Air Show 2010

Posted in Places by tokyobling on November 10, 2010

It’s this time of the year again, the annual Iruma Base Air Show! I try to go every year but this year and last we were able to enjoy fantastic weather and a brilliant blue sky with just enough clouds to make it interesting. Iruma City is in the south of Saitama prefecture, north of Tokyo. It is one the biggest Japanese Air Force bases and houses both fighter squadrons, helicopter battalions and Patriot Missile batteries. Quite interesting! Every year in November they stage a small festival and open their gates to interested visitors from Japan and abroad. There’s usually not that many foreigners though. It’s also one of the few places (the only one I think) in the Kanto region where you get to see the Blue Impulse Air Show, flying their distinctive Kawasaki T-4. As usual, their performance was perfect and a great time was had by the staggering number of 300 000 visitors! With numbers like that, you realize that this is not a day to just stroll on the train and get of at the nearest station.

More photos to follow tomorrow! Shooting air shows is, despite what you first think when you see the other photographers there, not just a question of long lenses. Sure, I had my 50-500mm Sigma lens but I took many photos with it at 100mm or 200mm. 500mm was definitely overkill for this task!


Blue Impulse

Posted in Places by tokyobling on November 6, 2009

Earlier this week I visited the air force base closest to Tokyo, in Iruma city up in Saitama prefecture. Once a year the base throws on a big air show and this years sunny but cold weather drew about 220 000 people. It’s free and just 30 mins by train from Tokyo so I was very surprised to not see more than a handful of obviously foreign people there. The main event of the air show is obviously the Japanese Air Acrobatic team, the Blue Impulse and their Kawasaki T-4 Trainers. They performed a stunning air show complete with sky writing of fearsome precision. I did my best to keep up with them but shooting planes moving at over 800km/h with a slow Sigma 50-500mm lens into the sun is not the easiest of photographic tasks. I was blinded so bad by the glare my eyes are still smarting. Still, to get even this sort of focus surprised me. I hope you enjoy them! Obviously my favorite is the first of the images, isn’t that an amazing formation? Half way through a huge loop coming straight at us. If you look hard enough in some of the other photos you can even see the two pilots (and the guys flying solo, plane numbers 2 and 4).

I will post more pictures from the Air Show later next week, I have a busy weekend in front of me, so please enjoy these Friday Fun photos! I’ll make sure that I can visit the Air Show next year again. The best fun for free you can have in early November!

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