Taipei Air Station - 1966 - - - " What you have in the end are memories"......... Photo Courtesy of Richard Reesh.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Hsinchu AFB Open House

Back in The Day, most of us probably related Hsinchu to the MAAG Club located just inside the north end of town, a block or so off Highway 1.  If you drove up and down the island you were sure to stop at the club to refresh yourself. Hsinchu is about half way between Taipei and Taichung. I recall it took between 6 to 8 hours to make the drive between the cities; you were always ready for a rest at Hsinchu. Highway 1 was a white knuckle drive, forever dodging all sorts of road hazards, too numerous to mention.

Hsinchu also had a Bank of Taiwan (BOT) Family Housing area for MAAG Personnel serving in the Hsinchu area.  You can read more about MAAG and the Housing area by visiting the web pages of the Rayle Family HERE.  

Hsinchu AFB had originally scheduled this year's "Open House" for 20 November 2010.  
My friends, Gene and Ben drove up from Taichung and I rode the High Speed Rail down from Taipei.  We met up at the old Main Railroad Station and drove out to Hsinchu AFB discussing what we might encounter at the Open House.

The Historic Japanese Era Hsinchu Main Railroad Station, in the early morning.

We drove into the gate area and were stopped by the Military Police.  Gene pulled out our Invitation to the Open House. The MP politely informed us that the date of the Open House had been changed to 11 December 2010.

What?  Wow!!   We looked at each other....

Gene asked the MP if he could speak with a supervisor.  We were directed  to the parking area just inside the gate.

A few moments later, an Air Force NCO came up and Gene spoke with him regarding our predicament after having traveled from Taichung and Taipei.  We asked if we might be allowed to just,  look around the base, take a few photographs and then call it a day.  Shortly, a Air Force Captain arrived, and Gene discussed again, the possibility of visiting around the old area and taking photos.  There were US military folks assigned to Hsinchu at one time on a permanent basis and we had hoped to find the area the US MAAG folks once occupied.  

After Gene and the Captain spoke, a Colonel arrived.  I guess we were causing some commotion.  The Colonel told us we could visit the small museum close to the front gate and also the aircraft on static display.  We thanked him for allowing us to visit and as we walked toward the aircraft displays, another Captain in flight fatigues came up and introduced himself.  He told us, his CO,  the Colonel,  had instructed him to usher us around for a few minutes.  

We were pleasantly surprised when the Captain loaded us into his base vehicle and drove us around the base, to the flight line where a trio of Mirage jets had been parked in display for a group of visiting parents who were on-base to witness their children graduate from training.  

We spend a couple of hours with our guide, a Mirage pilot.  As our tour drew to a close, he invited us into the Ready Room of his squadron for refreshments.  

We left the base with smiles on our faces.  We were so fortunate to be afforded this unannounced "tour" of Hsinchu.  We asked our new friend, the pilot, to express our grateful appreciation to everyone including his CO.

Move forward three Saturdays, it's 11 December 2010, 

Gene and his wife drive up from Taichung again, and I ride the High Speed Rail down from Taipei. 

We met up in front of the Historic Hsinchu Movie Theater.  It was around 9:00 AM, when we begin our drive out toward Hsinchu AFB.

 The Historic Hsinchu Move Theater
Now refurbished and renamed the Image Museum, read more HERE

Within a couple of minutes we were stuck in traffic, poking along for more than an hour, inching our way toward the base.  We soon discovered that the Traffic Police were re-routing vehicles away from the direct road to the base, pushing traffic right and left off of the main road.  We continued on, but now going in the wrong direction, moving a car length or two every 5 or 10 minutes.  Traffic was so backed up that it seemed like we would never get close to the base.

Gene and I decided to get out of the car and walk to the base.  Gene's wife took the car and returned to the down town area of Hsinchu.   We walked on toward the base.

Let's pickup the story in photographs now....

 I took this photo from the car window.  We were stuck in front of this vegetable stand for 5 or 10 minutes.  We finally decided to just walk to the base.

We walked for about 10 minutes and reached this east/north corner of the base.  
Traffic was in chaos everywhere.
It was overcast, so it was a pleasant walk to the gate.

Same street corner as above

You notice the foot traffic is beginning to be heavy.

Walking along, more and more people moving toward the main gate.

 The gate was getting closer, it was up just a little above the white bus way up the road.

We finally got to the gate.  I took this photo as we were leaving in the afternoon.

By the time we got onto the base, the flying exhibitions had already started, you can see one of the aircraft just above the roof of this building.

We walked south on the entrance road.  People we walking toward the flight line.

The farther we walked, the more crowded the streets became.

At the end of the street,  a large statue of Chiang Ki-shek.

We turned right at the statue and walked into the Food tent area.  It was crowded.

Past the Fire Station, there's probably more than one on the base.

I got in the line at the Porta Potty. There were many.  It took quite awhile for my turn.
Interesting side note..  No one cut into the line.   

Most of the aircraft inventory in Taiwan was represented on display. 
There were many more aircraft parked in the area.

The weather cleared and the traditional Hsinchu breeze returned in the afternoon.
The people on the top of this building were probably TV and News Photographers.

Folks were watching a fighter aircraft performing maneuvers.  
You can see some of the fighters on display just to the top on the right side of the photo. 

 It was crowded. Here is one of aircraft flying by during a maneuver.

I guess the noise was loud, this youngster is holding his ears.

We were going to see what was inside the hanger but decided not to visit.  
The floor area of the hanger was full of folks.

Here's a better view of the inside of the hanger.

This crowd was checking out the tented area where some commercial stores were selling all kinds of replica aircraft models and other things.

Take a look,  the folks just kept coming.
We decided to call it a day, get out of the way for those just arriving.

At the end of the display area, the Army had set-up a few pieces.

Army Guard Mount passes on the way toward to Main Gate.

Some of the retired aircraft on static display, close to the Main Gate.

We called it a day and headed out toward the gate on our way back down town.

On the way back, we detoured to stop by the new Black Cat and Black Bat Museum which is located about a mile or so from the base.  

I will write about the museum at another time.

Here's a video I took on the Flight Line

The next day, the newspaper estimated the attendance at the Open House at 125,000. It was crowded!

Thank you Hsinchu AFB for holding an Open House this year.

新年快樂 (Corrected Spelling)
新年快乐     Oops - Wrong Spelling



titojohn said...

Thanks for the great tour! Happy New Year, my friend!

唯蔥 said...

You used the wrong characters of "Happy New Year" in Chinese character.
We use "新年快樂" in Taiwan. Not the simplified Chinese.

Taiwan is heading to unified with China. In the near future, Taiwan also have to use simplified Chinese characters to read and write.

Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

"Taiwan may be headed to unified with China In the near future." But the next presidential election may very well change that,as more and more people are getting feed up with the present form of Government. Only time will tell. The whole of Taiwan was never part of China! Read your history.

Nono said...

Hello my friend,
Let me clarify some content for you.

"At the end of the display area, the Army had set-up a few pieces."

Those weapons belong to AF not Army....You can see Chinese word "空軍" on the millile cage.
TWAF also include ground force for guard,antiaircraft....etc.

"Army Guard Mount passes on the way toward to Main Gate."

About those solder with military uniform of the photo.
Usually we call them MP(Military Police),Their service is Army.
AFB had thier own guaud troops which service is AF.