U.S.-Japan flyby to open Misawa festival
Stars and Stripes August 23, 2006
MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — As many as 40 to 50 aircraft will be on display, either on the tarmac or in the sky, during the annual Misawa Air Festival slated for Sept. 10 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The largest joint, bilateral show in northern Japan draws about 150,000 people from throughout the region, marking the one day a year that the base opens its gates to the general public, base officials said.
The Japan Air Self-Defense Force at Misawa runs the event, said Capt. Pete Schnobrich, 13th Fighter Squadron pilot and U.S. Air Force air festival project officer, but “we provide a very large amount of support for this.”
Planning begins in January. Along the way, about 600 Americans are pulled in to help, including about 300 augmentees to provide security, emergency response, logistical support and other services on show day, Schnobrich said.
“Dealing with the volume of people is the biggest concern,” he said, “and making sure it’s done safely. We have to preserve real-world security … and have all our contingencies covered.”
The traditional opening flyby kicks off at 9 a.m. But this year that event for the first time will be a mixed formation of JASDF and U.S. fighter jets — the F-4, F-2, T-4 and F-16.
“This will be the first time we’ve flown with JASDF (in a formation), at least in recent history,” Schnobrich said.
After the flyby, Japanese and American maintainers will be taxied into show center for a weapons-loading demonstration. It’s not a competition, but “it will show the differences in what each aircraft can carry and highlight some of the differences and similarities in how we operate,” Schnobrich said.
Also on tap is the “Air Rock Show,” featuring a Japanese civilian demonstration team and its biplane, Schnobrich said.
The JASDF demonstration team Blue Impulse, from Matsushima Air Base near Sendai, will perform in the T-4. Other flying maneuvers will come from U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornets and the Pacific Air Forces F-16 demonstration team, based at Misawa. The much-anticipated air acrobatics, however, are dependent on weather: Low cloud cover or rain could scale back or cancel flying.
Some traffic restrictions will be in place during the festival, with details still being worked out, Schnobrich said. No pets or vehicles are allowed at the festival.