Spotting Report: A Couple of Days at Sapporo New Chitose Airport and Chitose Airbase

Spotting Report: A Couple of Days at Sapporo New Chitose Airport and Chitose Airbase

The main target of a spotting trip to Sapporo I took with a couple of friends last month was catching the Japan Air Self-Defense Force 747 on one of its training flights. And, of course, also getting some sunny shots with snow of some of the regular civil traffic.

Day 1: Off to a Good Start with Some Sun and a Thai 747

Since it was sunny when Yukihiro and I arrived in Sapporo onboard a JAL 777-300, we dropped of our bags in Super Lounge, and then walked over to the international terminal from where it’s just a short walk to the “joint spot.”

Here, one can photograph take-offs from runway 18L on the military side of the field, as well as aircraft taxiing between the international terminal and the civil runways.

[full_width padding=”10px 10px 10px 10px”]Spotting at Sapporo New Chitose

Spotters waiting for JASDF 747s departure.


First, we photographed the take-off of the JASDF 747 which was departing on a training flight. Well, when I say we, I mean Yukihiro. As for myself, I didn’t realize the aircraft was taking off until it was too late, and I forgot to switch my camera on…

After that, we photographed a couple of aircraft taxiing on the taxiways joining the “international terminal side” and the “domestic terminal side.” The highlight of those was a Thai Airways 747 making its way back to Bangkok.

[full_width padding=”10px 10px 10px 10px”]Thai Airways 747 at Sapporo New Chitose

Thai Airways 747.


[one_half padding=”010px 10px 10px 10px”]ANA DHC-8-400

ANA Wings DHC-8-400.


[one_half_last padding=”010px 10px 10px 10px”]Eastar Jet 737

Eastar Jet 737-800.


Day 1: Enjoying JASDF 747’s Missed Approaches

With the Thai 747 and so on photographed, we headed back to the terminal where we met up with one more friend who was arriving from Osaka.

By the time we got into the car and finished lunch, the runway direction was changed and the JASDF 747 was back near the airbase to do some missed approaches. And so, we headed to a location near runway 36R end to try to get some photos.

[one_half padding=”010px 10px 10px 10px”]Ramen

Ramen for lunch.


[one_half_last padding=”010px 10px 10px 10px”]Photographing the JASDF 747

Photographing the JASDF 747.


While some of the photos were made useless by clouds passing in front of the sun and other by heat haze caused by the engines of F-15s that were holding short of the runway, we still managed to get some decent photos of the go arounds.

[full_width padding=”10px 10px 10px 10px”]Japan Air Self Defense Force 747 at Chitose Air Base

Go around of the JASDF 747.


Between those, we were also able to catch some of the aforementioned F-15s, as well as T-4 trainer aircraft. And, even a pair of Japan Coast Guard DHC-8-300s.

[one_half padding=”010px 10px 10px 10px”]JASDF F-15 at Chitose Airbase

F-15 preparing for departure.


[one_half_last padding=”010px 10px 10px 10px”]JASDF T-4 at Chitose Airbase



[full_width padding=”10px 10px 10px 10px”]Japan Coast Guard DHC-8-300 Departing Chitose Airbase

Japan Coast Guard DHC-8-300.


Finally, around 2:30PM, “20-1102″ appeared on approach to runway 36R one last time, this time performing a full landing. With the 747’s training done for the day, and some nice photos on our memory cards, we moved on to the next spot.

[full_width padding=”10px 10px 10px 10px”]Japan Air Self Defense Force 747 at Chitose Air Base

The 747 approaching the runway one last time.


[full_width padding=”10px 10px 10px 10px”]Japan Air Force One

Japan Air Self Defense Force 747-400.


[full_width padding=”10px 10px 10px 10px”]Cygnus Landing After a Training Flight

Seconds before touching down.


Day 1: Ending the Day at the ‘A10’ Spot

Since the sun was shining bright and there were still some hours of daylight left after the 747 finished training, we decided to move to the “A10 spot” that I also written about in my last year’s report.

[full_width padding=”10px 10px 10px 10px”]Walking to A10

Walking to the “A10” spot.


The very first aircraft that we photographed there was a Fuji Dream Airlines ERJ-170 in light blue colors.

During the rest of our stay there, there were also some other domestic departures and arrivals including an Air Do 767 (which luckily taxied to the runway end even though it generally makes an intersection departure) and a Peach A320 in special livery.

[full_width padding=”10px 10px 10px 10px”]Fuji Dream Airlines ERJ-170 at Sapporo Airport

Fuji Dream Airlines ERJ-170.


[one_half padding=”010px 10px 10px 10px”]Air Do 767

Air Do 767-300.


[one_half_last padding=”010px 10px 10px 10px”]Skymark Airlines 737

Skymark Airlines 737-800.


[full_width padding=”10px 10px 10px 10px”]Peach A320 Arriving at CTS

Peach A320-200.


We also managed to get some international traffic during with sunshine with a Hawaiian Airlines A330 arriving more than an hour early from Honolulu being the last one.

[full_width padding=”10px 10px 10px 10px”]Hong Kong Airlines A330 at Snowy RJCC

Hong Kong Airlines A330-300.


[full_width padding=”10px 10px 10px 10px”]Juneyao Airlines A320

Juneyao Airlines A320-200.


[full_width padding=”10px 10px 10px 10px”]Hawaiian Airlines A330

Hawaiian Airlines A330-200.


Unfortunately, around 4:15PM, it became completely cloudy, and so we decided to call it a day, walk back to the car, grab sushi for dinner, and head to our hotel for the night.

[full_width padding=”10px 10px 10px 10px”]Sushi Near Sapporo Airport

Hokkaido-shaped sushi plate.


Day 2: Snowfall That Paralyzed the Airport

Given Chitose airport’s location and the climate in the area, the operations at the airport are not that easily disrupted by snowfall. However, the second day of our trip happened to be one of the days where the heavy snowfall caused almost all domestic flights (as well as the JASDF 747 training flight) to be cancelled.

FlightRadar24 All Flights Cancelled

In spite of that, after having a quick udon noodle lunch at Marugame Seimen, we headed out to “namakon” spot to try to get some action shots.

[one_half padding=”010px 10px 10px 10px”]Marugame Seimen Chitose

Marugame Seimen.


[one_half_last padding=”010px 10px 10px 10px”]Udon

Udon noodles.


Unfortunately, the visibility was too low, and so, it wasn’t easy. Still, it was nice to see the Korean Jumbo Jet landing in heavy snow.

[full_width padding=”10px 10px 10px 10px”]Heavy Snowfall Around New Chitose Airport

Beautiful, but not ideal for spotting…


[full_width padding=”10px 10px 10px 10px”]Korean Air 747 Arriving at Sapporo Airport

Korean Air 747 landing in heavy snow.


After a some time (mostly spent in the car) at the “namakon” spot, we decided to head into the terminal for a dessert and some night spotting.

[full_width padding=”10px 10px 10px 10px”]Strawberry and White Chocolate Parfeit

White chocolate parfeit.


While the terminal’s great observation deck is closed during in winter, photos can still be taken through the food court windows. With some of the parking spots being right in front of them, the spot is also great for taking photos of de-icing, especially at night.

[full_width padding=”10px 10px 10px 10px”]Star Alliance 777 Being Deiced at New Chitose Airport

Star Alliance 777 being de-iced.


[full_width padding=”10px 10px 10px 10px”]ANA 737 De-Icing

De-icing in heavy snow.


Besides taking the above photos, I also tried taking a time-lapse video of some of the aircraft. Below, you can see one of the ANA 777.

When there were no more aircraft to photograph, we headed back to the hotel – but not before stopping by a yakiniku (grilled meat) place for dinner.

[one_half padding=”010px 10px 10px 10px”]Yakiniku

Ready to be grilled.


[one_half_last padding=”010px 10px 10px 10px”]Yakiniku



Day 3: Some More Snow (and a Bit of Sunshine)

We started the last day of the trip at the “namakon” spot that I mentioned earlier. Unfortunately, the weather was uncooperative again (although the sun was peeking out a bit every now and then), and so I stayed most of the time in the car.

Still, I got off every now and then to get some photos.

[full_width padding=”10px 10px 10px 10px”]ANA DHC-8-400 Departing CTS

ANA Wings DHC-8-400 departing snowy New Chitose airport.


[full_width padding=”10px 10px 10px 10px”]ANA 787 Landing in Snow

ANA 787-8 landing in snow.


For lunch, we went to the sushi restaurant where we had dinner on the first day. For lunch, they offer the below for less than five dollars – hard to resist!

[full_width padding=”10px 10px 10px 10px”]Lunch



After lunch, we went back to “namakon.”

[full_width padding=”10px 10px 10px 10px”]Eva Air Hello Kitty Arriving in Sapporo

Eva Air A330 in Sanrio livery.


[one_half padding=”010px 10px 10px 10px”]Air Do 737

Air Do 737-700.


[one_half_last padding=”010px 10px 10px 10px”]C3PO ANA Jet

ANA C3PO Jet departing New Chitose.


[full_width padding=”10px 10px 10px 10px”]ANA 737 Lining Up for Departure from Snowy Sapporo

ANA 737-800 lining up.


Then, since the sun started coming out more and more, we decided to go to the non-backlit side of the airport. While we could have gone to the “A10″ spot, we decided to go to the terminal’s food court instead since a friend from Osaka was flying back in the early evening and didn’t have much time left.

[full_width padding=”10px 10px 10px 10px”]J-Air EMB-190

J-Air ERJ-190 ready to depart.


[full_width padding=”10px 10px 10px 10px”]Eva Air Sanrio Taxiing for Departure

Eva Air A330 in Sanrio livery taxiing for departure.


[full_width padding=”10px 10px 10px 10px”]Hawaiian Airlines A330

Hawaiian Airlines A330-200 taxiing after landing.


After sending our friend off, Yukihiro and I went back to the “namakon” spot to try to get some sunset photos.

Unfortunately, there was no nice sunset, and so, after a couple of minutes at the spot, we decided to call it a day. We drove the car back to the rental company, and went back to the airport to catch our flight back to Tokyo.

[full_width padding=”10px 10px 10px 10px”]JAL 777 Departing During Sunset

JAL 777-200 departing during a not-so-nice sunset.


With that, the 2018 winter spotting trip to Sapporo was over. As with the previous years, it was very enjoyable, and I cannot wait to be back in Sapporo again – next for the Chitose Air Festival in summer and then next winter!

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