Almost 200.000 people at a sun covered Iruma airshow
Every year on Japans Culture Day national holiday (3 November), JASDF Iruma opens its gates for the annual airshow. Very early in the morning enormous crowds gather at the entrances of the airbase.
In 2018, almost 200.000 people attended the airshow, which was also Iruma’s 50th air show and marked the base’s 60th anniversary. And luckily for the airshow fans, the sun came out to stay all day.
Iruma Air Base
The history of Iruma goes back to 1937 when the airfield was opened under the name Irumagawa Airfield as a training base for the Imperial Japanese Army Air Service. At the end of WW II, the United States occupied the base and renamed it Johnson Air Base. The base was important during the occupation of Japan and later during the Korean war. In 1958, the Japanese Air Defense Force moved their headquarters to the base, but it was not until 1978 that the Americans left the base leaving it in Japanese hands again. Nowadays Iruma is the home of several different units, flying the Gulfstream U-4, the Mitsubishi C-1, the British Aerospace U-125, the NAMC YS-11, the Kawasaki T-4 and the Kawasaki CH-47J.
The airshow has drawn an average of 223.000 spectators over the last 10 years (2009-2018) making it by far the best visited airshow in Japan. In 2013 no less than 320.000 people visited this one-day event. The high attendance numbers can for a large part be explained by the base’s location. With the direct Seibu-Ikebukuro train line, one gets to the airshow from the heart of Tokyo in less than 40 minutes. Also add the usually blue skies and the presence of Japans’ Blue Impulse aerobatic team and the enormous visitor numbers are explained.
The 2018 edition
Almost every type of aircraft in use by the Japanese forces were present on the large static line which runs equal with the taxi-track and runway. The flying part of the airshow started around 9:30 with a few flybys by two T-4s and one U-4. Shortly after followed by the U-125 and the YS-11. Next up were a UH-60 and CH-47J. Around 11:15 four C-1s made a few impressive fly-by’s and dropped some parachutists. The morning part of the show was concluded with a formation of six T-4s. In the afternoon the highlight for a major part of the audience was the show of ‘Blue Impulse’ with their T-4s. At the end of the day all aircraft returned to their home bases.