Why I'm in Japan


To travel "right-seat" with my friend Peter Claeys, who is Cirrus Design's China representative, as we ferry a Cirrus SR22 from Honda Airport outside Tokyo in Saitama Prefecture, past Mt. Fuji and down along the southern coast of Japan's main island, Honshu; past Kyoto and Hiroshima; to Kagoshima, on the southern island of Kyushu; and, after a stop, from there down the island chain to Okinawa.The next day, to Taiwan. Peter eventually needs to get the airplane to Macau; I will probably get off in Taiwan for some Chinese-manufacturing interviews. This is the planned route.

A year ago Peter and I had our challenges ferrying an SR22 from Changsha, in Hunan province, down to Zhuhai on the southern coast, for the Zhuhai Air Show. This time: we're not going to fly at all at night; we don't "need" to get anywhere by a particular deadline; we're going to big airports that we know have "AvGas" for planes like this one; and we're not flying in mainland China. This should be interesting.

Update: Actually, it was interesting. This update is from Okinawa, after two long flying legs on the first day. The rest of the journey, to Taiwan, might or might not happen, depending on how things develop with a typhoon now knocking around in Taiwan's area, and whose northern fringe we crossed on coming into Okinawa. (For aviation buffs: 30+ knot straight crosswind at 500 feet of elevation inbound on the ILS at Naha airport, which diminished to 11 knots at runway level. Quite a crab angle on the ILS, and quite a wind shear.)

The picture below shows how it looked this morning, soon after sunrise, as Peter walked to the plane at Honda airport and we prepared to scrape the rime-frost off the wings and head to the south.


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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.
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