My flying time has been somewhat curtailed due to a hectic schedule but I did sneak in some time to check out Microsoft Flight Simulator’s latest update including the world update featuring Japan. I am hoping to conduct a series of flights over the next few weeks exploring the country in more detail. It should be fun! I’ve started that journey with a flight from one of the new high detail airports and then into the skies above Okinawa. Let’s have a look!
Windy shores and blue skies
I started my latest flight in a go-to favourite of mine – the Diamond DA62 from the remote island airport of Kerama (ROKR). Kerama Airport is located on the island of Fukaji and is located just to the west of Okinawa. Most of the island is an airport and it is connected by bridge and ferry to several other nearby islands. The detailing in Flight Simulator, because its one of their high quality airports, is impressive.
Loading up on the runway for a quick flight, I was also impressed because it seems that the live weather is working better than I’ve seen it as the surface winds were strong and that caused some challenge to keep the aircraft straight on the takeoff run. The cause for the winds? Typhoon Chan-hom is churning up the waters just a few hundred kilometers west of Okinawa and is expected to track into Kyushu and Shikoku in the next few days.
Once airborne I headed for Okinawa and the city of Naha. This is a highly urban area that, together with the surrounding surburbs, takes up much of the southern part of Okinawa.
From there I flew north near Kadena Air Base, a major US military presence, and the home to various squadrons including F-15 Eagle’s, P-8 Poseidon’s, KC-135’s and E-3 Sentry’s. The military aircraft aren’t there but the airbase itself certainly is.
Then my track took me north out over the water again and up to Iejima Airport. During WWII this was known as Le Shima and was, after the island was invaded, where several US Army Air Force units operated out of. There’s still an airport there but nothing that resembles the former military operation there.
A familiar area
The Okinawa area is familiar to me largely because of Pacific Fighters. Having flown over Okinawa over the course of hundreds of missions in single and multiplayer, this is an area that many flight simmers are familiar with for that reason. Now I’m coming back to it looking for a very different experience. The realism and photogrammetry that drive the Flight Simulator experience here was impressive and it gives me a whole new look at a semi-familiar area.
My next Flight Journal will hopefully detail a few journey’s to the north as I head for Kyushu and then north from there up the Japanese islands to Tokyo and beyond. I’m hoping to visit several of the key sightseeing areas along the way and maybe stumble onto a few areas just out of chance.