I have always had a weakness for airplanes, especially military types. With their speed and pure maneuverability they seem the purest expression of mankind's desire to fly. While in Inuyama the other day, I saw a poster for the Gifu Air Day coming up on the weekend. An open house on Gifu JASDF Airbase. (Japan Air Self Defense Force, wow that is a mouthful.) I texted Jared to see if he was interested in going, and not only was he interested, but one of his students had already invited him. So I got to tag along with them, in a car! No walking in the rain from the train station, nope we got to ride in style from the train station. Once their I discovered that not only did we all get on the base for free, but we got access to the VIP section. Nobuyuki (Jared's student) gets VIP tickets from his work every year. Now this goes beyond luck to pure divine intervention!
While the rain was a bit depressing, watching high performance military jets strut their stuff (turning and burning) was great. The ease at which the F-15s and 16s could change directions was amazing, and the noise they make is epic. I'd like to see a bass guitarist try and match that rumble. Other than jets we also got to see a rescue helicopter 'rescue' a man, and even two batches of 14 para jumpers leaping out of a perfectly good airplane. They were leaping pretty low too, both for our benefit and because of a low cloud ceiling. Unfortunately because of the weather the main event, a performance by Japanese stunt team Blue Impulse, was canceled. What we saw was still a ton of fun and very impressive, especially for the price of admission. An interesting aside, all the jets they flew were American models. There were no home grown makes in the JASDF, which seemed strange based on Japans reputation for high tech. But one of my students noted that she thinks that there is a blanket ban on armament production from Japanese industry dating from the end of World War II. So there you go, if they want nice jets, they have to buy them from somewhere, and they get them from the US. Crazy.
now thats what I call a runway model! F/A 18 on loan from US for the day.
F-15 taxis past the VIP stand.
Myself and Jared in front of an E-2 Hawkeye carrier born early warning radar plane.
The Rescue helicopter. A very impressive pilot, he did some showing off after he had picked up the man from the field.