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New Chitose, Japan

Still in Alaska, we received weather alerts for Japan. At this time of the year, large and small typhoons regularly roam the island. Also at our time there were typhoon warnings. In Japan Changes to the flight plan, ie the approach of other airfields as requested, require 3 days lead time. So if a pilot does not want to fly to the airport because of the weather, he has to wait three days for the new permit. Since no one wants to wait 3 days, this procedure leads to a phenomenon called "mission-focussed". The pilot thinks he has no choice, he is under pressure to comply with his flight plan and takes unnecessary risks. We too were under this pressure. Are we flying to Japan today? How is the weather developing? Is it calculable? etc...

Our forecast described that the typhoon will weaken during our flight to Japan and will not develop its maximum strength. To be on the safe side, we have taken extra fuel, in order to be able to fly through all of Japan, if the weather requires an alternate farer away.. In the south the weather was not a problem. The bureaucratic problems that would have caused a flight change then, we would then somehow mastered.

 

Then we started confidently in Petropavlovsk and headed the aircraft to the south. Today the weather over Kamtschatka was very nice and gave us great impressions about the volcano landscape. Pure nature as far as the eye can see!

We have to fly over the water again today. This is always special with a single engine airplane. If the engine fails, there is no plan B. Therefore, life jackets, life raft and survival suits are mandatory. But in our aircraft we have a turbine with an exceptionally low failure probability. A lottery win is the same probability. Nevertheless, the engine data are permanently monitored. Even if the engine fails, the plane can still land in gliding. A "ditching" is in principle no problem. In these latitudes, the water is very cold. Survival depends on how fast you are found.

 

As we approach Japan, the weather is expected to get worse. We get everything that goes with a typhoon. First comes the ice, then winds at over 100 km / h. But our plane is a small "tank" and very weatherproof :-)

In low ceiling, wind and rain we landed in New Chitose, the airport of Sapporo. Our forecast was correct. The typhoon had weakened and it was more of a strong storm. Although it should be worse in the coming night. We were amazed how much is going on here. This airport seems to be a major hub in northern Japan.

 

Immediately after the landing, we were already received by our Japanese handler. The fuel truck was already there, waiting for us. Since the winds should increase, we tied it down. The ground crew did that with white gloves ;-)

Somehow we also imagined the uniform of a Japanese refueler to look like that :-)

The entry formalities were extremely "smooth". On the way to the airport building, we signed all the forms and then only had to go through "Customs" and everything was done. Since the weather was not exactly for cycling, we decided to take a taxi to the hotel.

 

Here's a little anecdote: Our dealer Yoshiki -very nice- wanted to give us  a mobile wifi device to save mobile phone costs. He said that he would send it later to the hotel. So we go by taxi to the hotel and in front of the hotel he is already with the device in hand. Excellent! Of course, we wondered why he did not let us wait 5 minutes at the airport instead of driving behind, or even faster to overtake. Extreme customer orientation!

In the evening we went to play pachinko. Very interesting ... You come to a huge hall with hundreds of slot machines. It is sooooooooo loud that you can not talk to each other. That's because the slot machines work with small balls. When millions of bullets rattle through the machines at the same time, that results in an incredible noise level. Here is an explanatory video:

Since gambling is officially forbidden in Japan, the inventive Japanese have developed a "workaround". After playing for a while, we go to the cash register with our won balls. We get a drink as a "price" and another pen tip. "With this pen tip we go out of the building, around the corner in an dark room.There is a window without anything described.We submit the pen tip and get money for it ;-)

Dinner ... We deserved it today :-)

The next morning we continue our trip to the south. Today through Japan. Our goal is Kobe. Selfie with our nice handler Yoshiki.

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