Motorists experience a unique traffic headache at Yokota Air Base
Stars and Stripes | .
published: July 27, 2016
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Living near an airport can mean inconveniences like loud noise and traffic. Then there’s Yokota, where just going to the commissary can get you stuck a few yards from the runway in a cloud of jet fuel fumes while waiting for a plane to take off or land.
“Because of limited space, drivers cross an active runway at both the north and south sides of the base,” said Tech Sgt. Charmaine Johnson, an air traffic controller with Yokota’s 374th Airlift Wing who probably gets cursed regularly by drivers trying to avoid being late for work or wanting to get home before dinner gets cold.
Lights control ground traffic crossing the runway, where, at any given time, one of the wing’s C-130 Hercules transports might be landing or taking off from Yokota, headquarters of U.S. Forces Japan and the 5th Air Force in western Tokyo.
The wing also operates C-12 passenger planes and UH-1 “Huey” helicopters, and the base hosts commercial Boeing 747 cargo planes, Marine Corps V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft and large C-17 and C-5 transports. F-22 Raptors and F-16 jet fighters have visited this year.