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    JMSDF takes flight to welcome new year



    Story by Lance Cpl. Cory Schubert 

    AFN Iwakuni

    MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan - Pilots with the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force Fleet Air Wing 31 took to the sky in celebration of a new year over Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni Jan. 7.

    As the doors to the hanger slide open, a cool breeze along with a ray of warm morning sun pours in and officials start come together for formation. However, this wasn't just another day. This was the first flight of the new year.

    According to JMSDF Cmdr. Kenzo Miyazaki, executive officer of air operations with Air Rescue Squadron 71, the celebration's purpose was to share motivation and carry it with them on operations throughout the year.

    "We have a proverb that says New Year's planning and conduct are the key of the year." said Miyazaki. "We do the first flight training event in Japanese New Year period because we see a ceremonial meaning to it. In other words, if you are successful in conducting the first flight of a new year, all flights for the rest of the year should be blessed and promised to be successful."

    The celebration started with an opening ceremony on the JMSDF flight line.

    "We had all members of the JMSDF present in formation," said LCDR Takao Yamakawa, Public Relations Officer with Fleet Air Wing 31. "We did that to illustrate that we share a goal to achieve and it takes a team effort to reach that goal."

    After the opening ceremony concluded, the individual air crews fell out of formation and took to their birds. While the rest of the formation stood at the hanger doors silently awaiting the planes to take to the sky.

    With a roar the planes fired up their engines all at once as a smell of jet fuel filled the air. As tradition, the planes lines up one by one and journeyed to the run way and the formation waved their covers in a silent salute of well-wishes.

    After all of the planes took off, one in particular geared up to conduct their first flight and their first training session of the new year.

    A roar of the ShinMaywa US-2's engines roared through the sky as the crew conducted air to water landings before conducting a search and rescue.

    As the plane touched down on the water for the last time there was a bit of a surprise. The back doors opened up as a team hopped into the water for a simulated stranded persons mission.

    With a common feeling of relief in the air, the mission was a success.

    Initially, JMSDF members were somewhat nervous at the start of training due to not only the importance of first time success but also weather concerns from the days prior, according to Miyazaki.

    As the plane journeyed through the water back to the flight line, relief, celebration and motivation filled the air.

    If the mission today was any indicator of how the unit will perform for the rest of the year, then 2015 looks to be a success.



    Date Taken: 12.21.2015
    Date Posted: 12.31.2015 02:00
    Story ID: 185518

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