Paul Filmer shoots a Japanese ShinMaywa US-2 among other SAR and Maritime patrol types at MCAS Iwakuni, one of the goals of his trip, followed by some regional airliners at Komaki Airport.
On this particular afternoon we were banking on seeing a ShinMaywa US-2 as it was due to be the swap-over day of the aircraft on SAR standby duties. Shooting a US-2 and its predecessor, the US-1, was a priority for me on this trip.
With only one place to shoot from at MCAS Iwakuni, due to its proximity to the sea, finding the spot along the breakwater was very easy. There were already lots of local photographers lined up along the road and we just found a spot, sat and waited.
It soon became clear that the aircraft were landing in the wrong direction for us to get the best shots. We were told later by a local that this time of year the winds tend to favour using Runway 02, instead of the more photogenic Runway 20, so we had to be content with rather heat-hazy roll-out shots, or rather high take-off ones.
A Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) MCH-101 was performing circuits when we arrived. These are AgustaWestland AW-101 Merlin helicopters built under licence by Kawasaki Heavy Industries for the JMSDF.
In the far distance a US-1 flew by, did a wide circuit, and landed on the sea. Very soon after a US-2 did exactly the same thing! So close but yet so far! The US-1 came in and landed at the airfield, but was short and taxied in mired in heat-haze.
The US-2 did eventually come and perform some circuits at the airfield before landing, but each time it was far too high to provide decent captures, and again landed short, much to my frustration.
Later on a couple of P-3s did multiple circuits while the light faded and, with countless opportunities presented, allowed me to dial-down the shutter speed on each attempt.
Once it was dark we retreated to a local BBQ restaurant and ate all manner of strange meats. The following day was mostly a driving day, but we ended up at Komaki Airport in Nagoya, where the JASDF blue C-130s are based. But, being the weekend, there was no flying by this unit.
This is also the main base of Fuji Dream Airlines with its fleet of differently coloured Embraer 170s.
The airport has viewing facilities in the shopping centre, but we chose to shoot from the shopping car park, which was nice and close.