Even though my flight to Detroit was departing at 5:45PM, since I was awake from early in the morning, I decided to head to Narita long before the flight and spend the day before my flight there.
Morning Session: Terminal 1 Observation Deck
I arrived at the airport around 8:30AM, and headed straight to the observation deck of Terminal 1 which offers decent views of runway 16R/34L as well as some taxiways and parking spots.
The first aircraft I caught was a Boeing 747-8 of NCA Nippon Cargo Airlines arriving from Anchorage as flight KZ159.
Then, FedEx Boeing 777 from Memphis, Swiss Airbus A340-300 from Zurich, and Delta Air Lines Boeing 757-200 from Guam arrived one after another.
At that point, one of the enthusiasts on the deck approached another one and said “it’s pushing back!” I had no idea what aircraft he was talking about until a couple of minutes later, Saudia Cargo Boeing 777 emerged from behind the terminal satellite.
The aircraft was visiting Tokyo in relation to an upcoming visit to Japan by the King of Saudi Arabia. Unfortunately, it was impossible to get a clean shot of the aircraft, but I was still glad to see it. And I am even more looking forward to hopefully seeing the Saudi Jumbos shortly!
The last movement I spotted from the terrace was a FedEx Boeing 767-300 arriving from Guangzhou. After that, I stored my suitcase in a coin locker, and headed to the arrival floors to catch a bus to the Museum of Aeronautical Science that is located near the airport.
Afternoon Session: Hikoki-no-Oka Park
After spending an hour in the museum which will be covered in detail in a separate post, I walked out of the museum, turned left, and headed straight. About ten minutes later, I arrived in Hikoki-no-Oka Park, one of the many parks around the airport offering great views of aircraft.
From here, activity on runway 34L can be seen from up close. Due to the fence, it is not possible to get clear photos of departing aircraft, but the spot is ideal for approach shots. The light is behind your back from around 11:30AM.
Unfortunately, for about an hour and a half, all aircraft were landing on runway 34R – in the distance. Then, a miracle happened, and an ANA Cargo 767 landed on 34L, right in front of me.
A fifteen minute pause followed before another ANA Cargo 767 and a JAL 737 landed on 34L one after another. With the slow traffic, I was considering catching the 1:10PM bus back to the terminal. However, there was a Yakutia SSJ scheduled to arrive at 1:50PM – just on time for me to catch the 2:10PM bus back to terminal.
Another 30 minutes of silence later, an ANA 787 arrived, followed by another 767, this time in passenger version. At that time, some clouds started rolling in, and so the next aircraft of the same type and operator was not lit by the sun.
As the Yakutia Sukhoi was getting closer and closer, intervals of sun and clouds started altering faster and faster. It was becoming a lottery.
Before the highlight of the afternoon, a Singapore Airlines 777-300 landed.
Then, at 1:45PM, the Sukhoi Superjet appeared in front of me. And luckily, the sun was out. In fact, it got out just 30 seconds before the aircraft came.
With the target photographed, I packed my bag, and got on my way. When I opened Flight Radar, I realized that Xiamen Airlines 737 was two minutes out. As such, I quickly got the camera out, took a photo and packed it back.
At exactly the same time, my 1:50PM alarm rung – meaning I had to walk back to the museum to catch the bus back to the terminal to catch the flight with Delta Airlines 747 to Detroit!