Akeno is the perfect place to enjoy helicopter action. A typical day will see a lot of flying by a multitude of types, viewable from short distance and without obstacles, so photography is great too. Nearly every rotary type of the JGSDF is based here, including the OH-1 and AH-64, and so are a few Coast Guard helicopters. Finally, police (Keisatsu-choo) helos are regulars here too. The base lies southwest of Ise Bay (Ise-wan, south of Nagoya) close to Ise city. As with most army airfields in Japan, the flying usually stops early afternoon after which the helos are hangared again.
This is a compact helicopter base where nearly every part of the surface is either built on, or used for manoeuvring. On the runway and apron sides, the field is very open allowing for easy reading and photography. Tiny roads lead to the perimeter and you can literally stand in rotor downwash during the action. The remote apron is relatively new and primarily houses the flying school. The test squadron hangar is the southern one on the central area. Immediately south of the 'real' airfield is the coast guard base. Its helicopters use the official runways but hover-taxi to and from their apron, crossing overhead the public road.
From Nagoya, road 23 follows the bay shore anti-clockwise and brings you very close to the field. A drive like that through urban and industrial areas will take quite long and the alternative is the Expressway that takes a wider turn around the bay, towards Ise. From Nagoya-Komaki to Ise the highway drive is about 140km and costs 3650 yen in toll for an average car (2006). From the interchange in Ise there are less than 10km left to Akeno. An alternative IC to leave the highway is south of the field, near Tamaru. The latter also leaves some 10km to the field but the route is a bit more complicated then.
Around the Airport
A great spot to watch and photograph the action. Good for number reading too, virtually anything moving can be logged here, including tow movements on the aprons. Photography is excellent with usual focal lengths. Depending on the runway use, position of the sun and personal preference several positions can be taken along the perimeter.
The light is good nearly all day for photos on the southern aprons from this side. Additionally, a look into open hangars will reveal registrations not readable from spot 1. Approaches on 04 are rare but will be good for photos from here.
The Coast Guard helicopter base can be approached from the south side for photos, there is a small parking lot. For the numbers, the road between this spot and the airfield will do fine. This road is crossed by hovering helos as they arrive or depart.
With winds from the east, the northwest side is great for approach photos with average lenses. This spot may be worth wile too for missing numbers.
For a look into the OH-6 hangars that face runway 13/31, go here with strong optics.
Spot 1 is generally the best seat in the house at Akeno. This image was captured on film with 300mm on an SLR. (Erik Sleutelberg)
Cobra hovering over runway 04 with main apron in the background, seen from spot 1.
|11209||L-19E stored in hangar|
|61332||TH-55J stored in hangar|
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