17. Tokyo (Haneda to Narita) - 1 June 2004

  Tokyo Tower on left, behind me
  Downtown Tokyo from above
  Industrial plants in east bay
  Observing airport from pattern
  Observing during go-arounds
  Taxiing to gate at Narita airport

If one were flying in a straight line and could get immediate landing clearance at Narita, this would be a very short flight, only 32 nm.

I decided, though, to do some sightseeing first, travelling north of Haneda to see some of the sights in Tokyo, including Tokyo Tower, which you can see in the first screenshot; the tower is behind me, on your left, and Haneda airport is in the background.

As you can see, the weather was hazy and somewhat cloudy, so this was not the best day (season, really) for this, and because I was staying at 3,500 ft, not the best altitude, either.

I turned east then and headed across the bay to look at the bridge I had downloaded several weeks ago. Again, it would probably be more interesting in better weather and at lower altitude.

After passing the industrial plants on the east shore of the bay, I started looking for the airport. This was not too difficult, but since I had cranked up the AI traffic to 100%, it did take longer to put down. This was fun. When I arrived, I was assigned the number two landing spot, ahead of two passenger jets. That cannot have made them happy. The first one had to do a go-around, as I was lower, but then I had to do one, too, since the plane ahead of me was slow getting off the runway.

I executed the go-around and got into the traffic pattern. The next time around, I was farther ahead of the other jets on final approach, but there was a plane taking off. Go around again. The third time there was no one on the ground, I was first in line, and there were two jets following me. It took me a moment to internalize the geography of the airport I had been circling for ten minutes, and to realize that there was only one runway on each side of the terminal buildings. As a result, I turned onto final a bit late, but not so late that I didn't have plenty of time to correct and perform a very clean landing sans ILS.

Because I knew that there were two planes following me I left the runway as fast as possible. The first one made it, but didn't get out of the way fast enough for the second, which had to execute a go-around. A very good flight: Tokyo itself was obscured by weather, but the experience of flying in heavier traffic at a major airport was exciting and satisfying.