34. Iwami to Iwakuni - 4 July 2004

  Oshima, maybe?
  Approaching Iwakuni

It is not far from Iwami to Iwakuni: only 39 nm, a short hop back across the thin end of Honshu. Since I was in the area, therefore, decided to look for the Oshima we visited in 1993. (There are many in Japan: the name means big -- or little -- rock or island.) I calculated a course for what I thought was the island based on my wife's recollection, using a VOR distance and radial from Iwami. Don't know if I found it or not -- there are more islands in that spot on the ONC than there are in the sim. Took some pictures anyway and turned southwest toward Iwakuni.

Mountains up to the coast, where the airport and town are, so I did not have time for a rapid descent. Winds still very high, and gusty as I got down to 2,000 ft. I was still a little high when I reached Iwakuni, so I went out to sea to lose altitude and set up for the approach, joining the downwind leg at the northern end of the airport.

In high winds, I knew it was imperative to keep my airspeed up if I wanted to stay in control of the plane, so I kept my gear and flaps up as long as possible into the base leg. Turning onto final, I was in good shape, but losing altitude a little too quickly. I had noticed on my approach that the runway was quite long (8,000 ft), so I figured I could afford to take my time getting down to the ground. Above all, I did not want to be taken to the ground by a gust. This approach worked rather well: I rode the ground effect cushion a little bit longer than is stylish, but when I did come down I came down softly.

Very picturesque, this area, especially with all the autogen houses and buildings along the seacoast and the islands in Naikai. Another nice thing, in retrospect: blue skies! What puzzled me was the emptiness of the airport. Since installing GA-Traffic a week ago, that doesn't happen anymore. I rechecked my itinerary: Iwakuni is the only military airport on this tour, and GA-Traffic doesn't populate military airports...