Earlier today, the Japanese Air Self Defense Force put out an announcement that food and goods stall spots for the 2018 Chitose Air Festival are open for applications now. With that, it has essentially announced the date of this year’s Chitose Air Festival – July 22 (Sunday).
The Last Chance to See the JASDF 747-400 Up Close?
Every year, the Chitose Air Festival attracts thousands of aviation enthusiasts from all over Japan and even from abroad. And, besides military enthusiasts, it also attracts civil aviation enthusiasts.
It largely does so for one reason – the Japan Air Self Defense Force 747-400 VIP transport aircraft.
The two VIP 747s – also known as “Cygnus” and “Japanese Air Force One” by their callsigns – are based at the air base and can often be seen doing training flights on weekdays throughout the year.
(Last week, I went to Chitose with the purpose of photographing those, but more on that in a separate report.)
And, as long as the aircraft are not on a mission flying VIPs around the world during the air festival, one of them performs a flying display and is later put in the static display area – allowing for plenty of photo opportunities.
Unfortunately, given that the 747-400s will be replaced by 777-300ERs soon, this year’s Chitose Air Festival is likely the last chance to get up close with the Jumbo.
The 747s will continue flying for several more months after the airshow. However, given that the 777s will be delivered in August and December 2018 – and will be put into active service in April 2019 – the 747s are unlikely to survive until the next airshow in the summer of 2019.
As such, all we – aviation enthusiasts – can hope for is that the 747s will not be away on an official mission on July 22, 2018, and that we will have one more chance to see it up close at the airshow.
Other Aircraft That Can Be Seen at the Airshow
The airshow offers plenty of static and flying displays besides the 747 as well. The flying display – among others – includes Blue Impulse, the Japanese display team. As for the static display, there is usually a variety of aircraft from the various departments of Japanese Self Defense Force, as well as from the United States military.
And, if you are into civil aircraft, you can also head to the civil airport adjacent to the base. There, you can photograph some of the airliners that fly in and out of Sapporo’s New Chitose airport from the airport’s observation deck.
To get a better idea of what you can expect at this year’s airshow, you can also read my report of the last year’s one.