aitama -- A Japan Air Self-Defense Force (ASDF) 151-model aircraft based on the YS11, the first midsize passenger aircraft developed and manufactured in Japan after World War II, took off from Iruma Air Base here on March 17 for its last flight.
The aircraft was originally a transport plane, but later became a test aircraft for the ASDF's air control facilities, spending more than half a century flying Japan's skies. With the close of the 2020 fiscal year at the end of March, the plane will be retired.
The YS11 is a twin-propeller plane that was developed by Nihon Aircraft Manufacturing Corp., a special public corporation with investment from private firms and the government. Private aircraft companies, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and the Japan Coast Guard introduced the aircraft to their fleets, and it is also known for transporting the Olympic flame within Japan for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.
Between fiscal 1964 and 1971, the ASDF acquired 13 of the planes, with the 151 model being the first. After initially transporting people, it was refurbished and from 1992 onward became the YS11FC, which did inspection flights to confirm whether aircraft guidance equipment at Self-Defense Force (SDF) facilities were functioning
The aircraft sports a characteristic red check pattern on its vertical stabilizer, and it was operated by the SDF's sole Flight Check Squadron at Iruma Air Base. The 151 model was the sole remaining YS11FC aircraft of the three once stationed at the base.
Just past 9:30 a.m. on March 17, a crew of six in the 151 model started up its engines with a distinctive high-pitched sound and took off. It traced a figure eight, and showcased several moves to the assembled press including a "touch-and-go" maneuver, in which it took off again right after landing. After about an hour it landed, its last flight marked by a traditional water show from fire trucks. Then, its engines stopped.
The aircraft's captain said, "Though the wind makes it difficult to control skillfully because it's manually operated, I became fond of it. I enjoyed the flight thoroughly, and I'm in high spirits."
The ASDF retired YS11 planes from transport operations in May 2017, and inspection aircraft operations will end this month. In future, the duties of the Flight Check Squadron will be fulfilled by U.S.-made aircraft currently in use.
At a March 11 press conference, ASDF Chief of Staff Junji Izutsu said, "It's a very old plane, and it has fulfilled its duties well." With all YS11 aircraft outside the ASDF now retired, the remaining six planes will be used for collecting and measuring radio information from aircraft, among other electronic defense strategies.
SAYAMA, Saitama -- A Japan Air Self-Defense Force (ASDF) 151-model aircraft based on the YS11, the first midsize passenger aircraft developed and manu