I never thought it would be possible but on the 17th of January 2011 I set foot on Japanese soil for the very first time in my life. A year ago my mate Raymond asked me if I would like to go to Japan with him. He is a pilot with the KLM flying Boeing 747-400's and I could accompany him on one of his flights. Needless to say I took the bait. After weeks of thorough preparations and planning I found myself on board of Boeing 747-400 PH-BFR 'Paramaribo'. We took off at 17.30 hrs. local on sunday the 16th from Schiphol. The flight to Tokyo-Narita would take us mostly over Russia. Endless white plaines with occasionally even some lights of little villages or towns. We even crossed Nova Zembla. We landed at Narita at about 12.30 hrs. local the next monday. Immediately after the formalities with customs where done (they took fingerprints and even photo's of me) we made our way to the car-rental counters. We decided to rent a car with Europcar. The lady at the counter told us that it would at least take an hour to get a car with English navigation so we settled for a car with Japanese navigation. It turned out to be a Mazda Axeia. Never heard off !! Didn't matter because it was a great car with lots of space. We only needed explanation of the damn navi. So the lady told us what the 'destination' button was and we drove off to our first base: Hyakuri. Hyakuri is situated about 65 km's to the north of Tokyo-Narita near the Kasumigaura Lake. Stationed here are the famous Woodpecker RF4EJ's from 501 Hikotai. Also 302 Hikotai resides here with their F4EJ-Kai's (Kai's=Extra, by Mitsubishi modified Phantoms who are much more potent due to their Westinghouse AN/APG-66J radar with lookdown/shootdown capability, a new central computer, a Kaiser HUD, Hazeltine IFF System and a Litton inertial navigation unit). They moved in 2009 from Naha on Okinawa to Hyakuri. And last but not least 305 Hikotai flying the F15J Eagle call Hyakuri home. All three squadrons have also a two/three Kawasaki T4's on strength for weatherflights and/or baseflights. Additionaly the Hyakuri Kyunantai (Air Resque Wing) operates with two U125A's and four UH60J's. So one could say this base is packed with aircraft. After an one and a half hour drive we arrived at Hyakuri at 3.00 p.m. We situated ourselves in front of the tower where we saw more spotters. The runway in use was 21. We where lucky because we managed to photograph the afternoonwave before it went dark. We had a total score of 16 Phantoms, 5 Eagles and 2 T4's. Also a U125A and a UH60J flew a mission. Raymond had saved a beer from the flight and gave it to me as these where my first Japanese aircraft. Cheers ! We stayed till around 5.00 p.m. and decided to go to our hotel in Narita. The KLM lets their crews rest at the Radisson Hotel in Narita. A very nice hotel it turned out to be. Also Delta and Northwest lets their crews stay at the Radisson so most occupants of the rooms where Americans. After changing clothes (our shoes where all muddy) we grabbed a bite at a nearby 'Bakplaat'. There we met the other crewmembers from our flight again. After a great dinner with chopsticks (Gyoza rules !) we went back to the hotel. We felt crashed und burned (almost 32 hours with no sleep) and tried to get some sleep. After an 4 hour sleep we where awake again at 04.00 a.m. Those damn jetlags. We watched some T.V. and took turns on the laptop before hitting the road again for.....Atsugi Naval Air Station !!

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