During the first weekend of December the Japanese Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) held another Air Festival at Hyakuri Air Base, home of the last Japanese F-4 Phantoms. While the Saturday was only accessible for personnel and families, on Sunday tens of thousands gathered together at Hyakuri, which is located around 50 miles east of Tokyo, to witness the last demonstrations from the Phantoms as the F-4s will be retired in 2020.
With already loads of people waiting outside the gates opened around 6 o’clock. After passing some preserved aircraft near the gate and a security check a small static and flightline was presented on the Eastern side of the field. Besides the Blue Impulse demonstration team with their T-4s, the JASDF sent a T-7, F2, 2 F-15’s, C-2 and Gulfstream 4 to Hyakuri while the Navy flew in a P1 on Friday. But the most interesting were probably the aircraft from the base itself. The Air Resque Wing showed a blue U-125A and a UH-60J on the flightline and on two static areas two special coloured and retired F-4EJs from 302 Hikotai were presented together with two reconnaissance RF-4s from 501 Hikotai. More Phantoms could be found on the flightline with three F-4EJs from 301 Hikotai and four beautiful camouflaged RF-4s from 501.
The flying program began at 07:30AM with the start-up of two F-4EJs on the northern side of the flightline which later on performed a weather check. Fifteen minutes later also three RF-4s and a third F-4EJ fired up their J-79 engines and after these Phantoms departed runway 03R an impressive six-ship formation was flown over the field. Next in line was the Air Rescue Wing which showcased their UH-60J and U-125A in their Search and Rescue role. Also the U-125 made several passes dropping emergency kits.
After lunch it was back to the Phantoms with a scramble from three F-4EJ’s including a special colour one. The trio did several simulated airfield attacks after which two RF-4Es took to the air to asses the attack and take pictures. After landing and shut down the show was over and the last official demonstrations with the Phantoms at their homebase Hyakuri in history books. The Phantoms and their unique sound will be missed in Japan, Sayōnara F-4!