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Capt. Chris Morton, air show project officer for the 35th Fighter Wing, shows off a poster adverstising this year's air festival at Misawa Air Base, Japan. The Sept. 7 event is expected to draw a crowd of 100,000 or more.

Capt. Chris Morton, air show project officer for the 35th Fighter Wing, shows off a poster adverstising this year's air festival at Misawa Air Base, Japan. The Sept. 7 event is expected to draw a crowd of 100,000 or more. (Jennifer H. Svan / S&S)

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — This year’s annual Misawa Air Festival promises to dazzle, if those pesky clouds stay away.

An impressive lineup of aerial displays is on tap for the Sept. 7 show above the flight line, festival planners said.

The headliner is the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s flashy flagship aerobatic demonstration team Blue Impulse, according to Capt. Chris Morton, the U.S. Air Force project officer for the air show.

Also slated for sky time is an F-16 flown by a Pacific Air Forces Demonstration Team pilot, assigned to Misawa, and an F-15 from Kadena Air Base on Okinawa, piloted by a West Coast Demonstration Team member.

Other aerial events include JASDF F-4 Phantoms simulating an airfield attack, and a demonstration by a C-130 cargo plane from Yokota Air Base, Japan.

The JASDF — the 3rd Air Wing is based at Misawa — takes the lead in putting on the show with support from the Air Force at Misawa, Morton said.

It’s "an opportunity to see how JASDF and the U.S. Air Force work together," Morton said. "It’s going to be a good show."

The festival is expected to draw about 100,000 people, Morton said.

But the number could swell even higher, Morton said, since this year marks the last time JASDF pilots will fly the F-4, a combat jet that figures prominently in the show. This year also marks the 50th anniversary of Misawa city and the 70th year of flying operations from the air base.

An opening flyby of Japanese and U.S. aircraft will jump start the festival at 9:01 a.m., with a Blue Impulse; an F-4 finale wraps things up by 3 p.m.

Base residents can walk to the airfield or hop a ride on one of several base shuttles, leaving at regular intervals from Security Hill, north area housing and the base exchange parking lot. Shuttles begin running at 7 a.m. The gates officially open to off-base guests at 8:30 a.m.

On the airfield, more than 50 Japanese and U.S. aircraft will be on static display.

Other events on tap include concerts from the PACAF Band of the Pacific out of Yokota and JASDF’s Northern Air Band, plus a Japanese-U.S. weapons-loading competition.

Morton said the festival will be a go, rain or shine.

"Be ready to be amazed," he said, reminding festival-goers to bring sunscreen and earplugs.

author picture
Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
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