13. Kansai Int'l to Nanki-Shirahama - 26 May 2004

  Taking off from Kansai, low on fuel
  Coast at dusk
  Cresting mountains at dusk
  Inspecting airport from traffic pattern
  Airport is on a small peninsula
  Turns out to be a good wallpaper

Despite its brevity, this was probably the most beautiful flight I have undertaken on this tour so far.

It was early dusk when I left Kansai Intl, initially with some thought of visiting Kyoto (which I inexplicably left out of my itinerary for this tour), until I noticed that I was running rather low on fuel: 12% or so. This was while I was taking off.

(You can judge from this how little experience I have in these things and how casual one can be about fuel when all of the flying is done from one's study, safely on the ground, and there is no danger whatsoever of falling out of the sky if the tank runs dry.)

I had mapped out a more leisurely route to Nanki-Shirahama, travelling south along the coast and using the VOR at Goba as a midpoint. This probably would have worked and in retrospect might have been safer than what I did do, which was to reroute along a straight line that took me over the mountains.


Fortunately, the mountains were not high and I did not have to expend much fuel getting up to altitude: 5,500' was enough. The fog was less dense than when I landed at Kansai, but there was enough moisture and clouds in the air to make everything golden as it caught the rays of the falling sun.


Soon I reached the coast, and because I was being casual I was too high, once again, to fly straight in. No matter: I still had 9% of my fuel, having leaned the mixture at altitude, and knew that I would be fine. I executed a slip to lose altitude and entered the traffic pattern.

No traffic in sight except for a Lear on the ground. There is a rotating beacon at the airport and now that I have more memory the effect is magical rather than harsh. The same goes for my landing light on the left wing.

I made a narrow circuit around the airport and noticed that my airspeed was already quite low: probably because I had forgotten to enrich the fuel mixture when I came down from cruising altitude. For this reason I didn't put gear or flaps down until I was on base.

Never cut the throttle entirely, though, and touchdown was smoother, I think, because the landing stall was under more control. After landing, I realized that I hadn't checked to see whether this airport had avgas available. Fortunately, it did, and after refueling I parked next to Lear and turned off my lights. Magical!