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Tokyo Narita International Airport, 2004

August 2, 2012

On one of my trips to Toronto my flight with Nippon Airlines made a stopover at Narita Airport on May 30th 2004. It was known as the New Tokyo International Airport at that time. For some reason we had to make an over-night stop and the airline installed us at a hotel close to the airport and provided us with meals. I recall airport security was very high both going to and from the airport by bus. It seemed that this was normal for this airport since from its early conceptual planning there have been violent opposition to it’s planning and construction. Apparently land acquisition by the government met bitter opposition from the farmers and land owners resulting in riots and violent clashes during the 1960s. I was surprised that security there was still very high in 2004.

Today, 2012, airport security is of a different nature. Instead of security to enter the airport, it is now security to enter the airplane. Anyhow we were not pressed for time with our vacation, so learning about Narita and going to and from the airport and then exploring the terminal building was perhaps ‘easy’ for us on the long travel time to Toronto.

Of course it gave me time to sketch yet another airplane. The plane we were waiting to board was a 747-400 Boeing; a giant bird almost 70 meters long with a wingspan of more than 60 meters. It’s a beautiful flying machine, elegant, streamlined and majestic as it stood there on the tarmac, ready and anxious for flight.

Airports are interesting places to visit. You not only get to see the magnificent flying machines, there is also nostalgic memories associated with your visit when you recall meeting or sending off love ones. Opportunities are also there to casually shop, eat and drink leisurely, very different from the tension of urban shopping areas.  Of course the most interesting thing about airports is to watch the planes take off and land.  Unfortunately this is never in the planning strategy of airport planners. They are focused on safety, security, immigration procedures and efficiency, to name just a few. Wherever weather conditions are conducive it certainly could add another dimension to a terminal building to have viewing balconies.

From Terminal 1 where I sat, the 747 spread its wings across my entire view, in a proud gesture signifying the triumph of the technology that allows this giant to soar into the skies defying the laws of earth’s gravitational pull. She is not alone, further beyond the terminal many other 747s can be seen berthed at the platforms waiting for their passengers while being maintained and ready for flight. Similar to distance runners, they seem to be poised ready and eager to sprint away into their journey.

  1. Daphne Yee Man permalink

    Did this mark your first love affair with airplane sketching?

  2. In 1993 I did a sketch at the Vancouver airport while waiting to board the Air Canada flight to Toronto. This sketch was my 2nd attempt at on-site sketching of an airplane. I only discovered it recently in my sketchbook, so I guess this sketch did ignite my love affair of sketching airplanes. Since then I have done several.

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