3. Minamidaito to Yonaguni - 21 May 2004

 
Miyakojima below  

Another long flight in the Lear (458 nm), relieved this time by more interesting stratus clouds and some islands toward the end. The largest of these, Miyakojima, is seen here through dense vapor. My final destination, Yonaguni, is bigger than Iwojima and Minamidaito, with some hills in the center, but it is still small.

 

I descended into rain and landed neatly with VOR and PAPI. This morning before taking off, I learned that FL180 and above (where I was flying the first leg of this journey) is class-A airspace, and therefore restricted to IFR controlled flight. I filed my flight plan accordingly and plotted my route as much as possible along J-ways, Which ATC did not interfere with. Unlike the previous flight, which was close to a straight line, this one involved a number of smaller legs and therefore required more vigilance on my part.

 
   

Why Yonaguni? It is the furthermost island in the Ryukyu chain which trails off from Japan and which was formed, like Japan itself, by the collision of geological plates (see explanation). To the immediate west is the much larger island of Taiwan, and for the latter part of my journey, I was being directed by ATC in Taipei, though the main ATC in the Ryukyu chain is Naha AFB.

So much for geology and so much for jets, as well. This will probably be my last flight in the Lear jet. The first two legs of this tour are the longest by far and total more than 900 nm, which is about one fifth of the whole tour. From here on out, it's VFR flying with short hops and low altitudes.