200,000 expected to attend Misawa festival
MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — More than 40 aircraft and 200,000 people from northern Japan are expected for the Sept. 5 Misawa Air Festival, a joint U.S. Air Force and Japan Air Self-Defense Force event.
This year, the festival commemorates JASDF’s 50th anniversary, said Maj. Mike Frey, air festival project officer and 35th Fighter Wing inspector general.
“I think it’s the biggest air show in northern Japan, including all the way down to Tokyo,” he said.
Aircraft, both U.S. and Japanese, are to be the show’s stars, with both aerial demonstrations and static displays on tap.
Another draw likely will be the more than 120 booths selling American and Japanese food and souvenirs.
Air Force and Navy pilots will be on the ground to answer questions about their planes.
Base officials said they’re finalizing plans to bring a B-52 bomber from Guam, a C-17 Globemaster cargo plane from McChord Air Force Base, Wash., and an F/A-18 Super Hornet from Atsugi Naval Air Facility.
Other planes to be parked on the base’s airfield include the Navy’s S-3B Viking and a P-3 Orion from Misawa Naval Air Facility.
The aircraft and vendors are to set up on the south ramp of Misawa Air Base’s runway.
The free festival runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.; a booming fly-by of U.S. and Japanese jets is to start the day.
Other aerial shows planned for from 9 a.m. to noon include Japanese HH-60 rescue and CH-47 hoist demonstrations; F-2 and F-4 mock bombing runs; and F-15 and F-16 displays.
To perform in the afternoon are Blue Impulse, the JASDF aerial demonstration team, along with Japan’s newest fighter, the F-2. Navy F-18s also may take to the skies.
The Pacific Air Forces Band of the Pacific from Yokota Air Base will play in Hangar 911 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The festival marks one of the few times each year that the base opens its gates to the community. Base residents are encouraged to take a free shuttle from the north area or main gate because of limited parking. The bus operates from 7 am. to 5 p.m. Vehicles and pedestrians entering from off-base will be subject to random searches, Frey said. Prohibited items include pets, bicycles, balloons and coolers.
About 300 military personnel are working the festival, helping with crowd and traffic control, trash detail and medical support, base officials said.
“We’ve been planning this since March,” Frey said.