8. Amami to Kagoshima - 23 May 2004


Another flight in the King Air 350.

There is some potential for confusion here, since Kagoshima is a region both in Okinawa prefecture, which I just left, and in Kyushu. I am flying to Kyushu.

The first half of this long flight (231 nm in the flight planner) took place over water, and I made liberal use of the autopilot, turning it off again when the islands of Yakushima and Tanegashima came into sight. This was the sign that I was approaching the southernmost of the Japanese home islands, Kyushu.

  Approaching the Osumi peninsula
  Osumi peninsula ahead
  Passing Cherry Blossom Is.

I entered Kagoshima bay by flying over the Osumi peninsula, then turned north, past Sakurajima, Cherry Blossom Island. The peak, which is an active volcano, was partly covered in cloud. Once I passed the volcano, things happened very quickly.

I had been flying at the 7,500', the altitude recommended by FS9's flight planner, and wasn't sure when I could begin my descent, since I didn't have a good map of this area and the terrain is mountainous.

I spotted the airport in a valley and did everything I could to drop altitude fast: throttled back to 35% and leaned back on the stick to lose airspeed. As soon as it was safe to do so, I dropped my gear and extended flaps, keeping up the back pressure on the vertical stabilizer so that airspeed would not exceed the maximum for full flaps. The resulting approach was steep, but because I had airspeed under control the landing itself was clean and controlled. Another FS9 crash after contacting ground control after landing, so no log entry. I reloaded the program to set up the next flight in such a way that the fuel and time of day would be approximately correct. When I did so, Kagoshima was SNOWING. This doesn't square with the weather report, but no doubt MS knows best.