24. wakkanai to Wakkanai - 26 June 2004

  Snow country in May
  Mt. Shari (5,069 ft)
  Lake Kussharo again
  Hugging the coast
  Volcanic island of Rishiri (5,640 ft) seen in the distance

An uneventful but scenic flight. Long: 171 nm if one travelled in a straight line, which one almost never does.

I started out flying northwest to the VOR at Memanbetsu, passing Mt. Shari (5,069 ft) on the right and the lakes of Mashuko and Kussharo on the left.

At Memanbetsu, I turned westerly and toward Wakkanai, following the V-way at 12,500 ft and hugging the coast for most of the way. Looking back, I could see the Shiretoko Peninsula stretching out toward the islands now occupied by Russia.

As I neared Wakkanai, the volcanic island of Rishiri (5,640 ft) came into view, and I began my descent. Again, there was a layer of cloud at traffic pattern level, making the airport hard to spot until I was on top of it. Using the VOR and DME, though, I entered the traffic pattern, but because ended up making rather long legs, both because I couldn't always see the airport and (because I was now low) making it even harder to see the airport. My crosswind leg took me out over the sea, and I could make out what I thought was probably the landing field only with difficulty. As the downwind leg stretched out, I could make out the buildings of Wakkanai itself on a little peninsula, and turned base. As I neared the shore again, the airfield came into view and I turned onto final smoothly. Still having a bit of a bounce on touchdown. The problem, I think, is not that I am coming down too fast. Rather, in trying to smooth out the flare, I am floating on the ground effect.

Still, it was a picturesque flight and I'm glad I flew high, not because the weather was poor at lower altitudes, but simply because I could see more of a rugged and interesting landscape from on high.

Wakkanai is the northernmost airport in Japan, and therefore the northernmost point on my tour. After this, I turn south and follow the western coast of the home islands. Next stop: the big city of Sapporo (which I saw en route to New Chitose) and its little airport.