The COVID pandemic prevented us from traveling to Europe this year, so we made the best of it in our home area of Kyushu, Japan. Far from being 'small', clearly, this is a place worth visiting by any XC pilot, with great route potential and first-rate scenery!
Here is a brief summary of my flights.
August 20th - a 40 km FAI triangle by tandem, before overdevelopment set in.
The track along the nortwest part of the outer Aso caldera.
It's Tandemonium in Aso 😊
Mt. Aso at its greenest.
August 19th - Yet another 100 km FAI
Once again taking advantage of conditions very similar to the previous flights. This time, taking off and returning to Kabuto-iwa instead of Daikanbo, and making Futae-toge the first (westernmost) turnpoint. I did this because the convergences were predicted to shift farther west than before, and the did, and it worked!
Lucky smoke showing convergence, not far from the eastern edge of the caldera.
Not too bad. 40km triangle in fairly light (stable) conditions. Very similar to the tandem flight a few days later. When clouds did not pop up, it was too stable for a really big fight.
Leanne scratches for what she's worth in weak conditions along the caldera.
XC in Aso at its best.
Happy slope landings
August 17th - 108 km FAI, probably a Japan record. Less lift than the day before, some scratching to add interest.
For an ayvri video of the flight, see https://ayvri.com/scene/r7j0o7xvjy/ckdz4nwzf00013d6f4pelm4ma
南小国と九重 Oguni town with Kuju Mtns in the background.
今日涌蓋山バイパス Today I bypassed Mt. Waita, with better results.
九重 The Kuju group.
九重の北斜面を飛んだ Fumaroles on Kuju.
坊ガツル Bogatsuru basin in Kuju (there are hot springs!)
玉来ダム 工事中 Endless dam construction in Japan
祖母山 The Sobo Range; this summer was the first time I flew this far!
南阿蘇と逆転層から突き出ている雲仙岳 High above the inversion in the evening, showing South Aso and Mt. Unzen protruding in the far background.
阿蘇と根子岳 Aso and Nekodake in the center of the caldera
阿蘇と根子岳 Nekodake and Aso
帰りました！象ケ鼻 Back near the starting point at Zogahana, triangle closed!
August 16th 100 km FAI
Takeoff: Daikanbo, Aso
Turnpoints: First Zogahana and back to Daikanbo, because it's hard to come back to Daikanbo in the evening. Then, AUTOPOLIS racecourse in the NW, past the Kuju range in the NE, and the Sobo Range in the SE. Between Kuju and Sobo, and Sobo back to Aso, one rides the main convergence that forms in the afternoon on good days where the sea breezes meet over the center of Kyushu island.
ビッグフライトの天気・落ち着いた曙 Cloud sea in the bottom of the Aso caldera at dawn
朝のカルデラ The caldera in the morning
ターンポイント1:オートポリス Turnpoint 1: AUTOPOLIS
涌蓋山まで行った Mt. Waita, turned out to be an uncesessary detour and I nearly got derailed by large patches of sink.
九重連山 Kuju Mtns.
九重から祖母までコンバージェンス The convergence stretching from Kuju to Sobo
根子岳と阿蘇 Nekodake and Aso
最後は火事 A fire while scratching at the end of the day. In spite of trying to use it for lift, I couldn't quite close the course, coming up less than 400m short
Today's XC (37km) turned out to be preparation for the three 100km triangles that followed. Without clouds, it was too stable to sustain flight over the plateaus.
Spectacular Nekodake along XC from Daikanbo
Aug 14th - A 35 km trek in the Central Kyushu Mountains
Relief from the summer heat can be found in the remote Central Mountains, with their highest peak, Mt. Kunimi, at 1738m. Once the punishing climb from the deep valley is over, the trails along the ridgetops go up-and-down only slightly, making for easy walking among great scenery and a remoteness that are suprisingly atypical for Japan.
Aug. 12-13 Iriki, Kagoshima Prefecture
This little area is actually well worth a visit, with great scenery, XC potential, and a touch of the subtropical southern atmosphere. It has been revived recently by local fliers who are encouraging visitors to come an fly, free of charge!
An out-and return flight (about 25km) to the coastal Satsuma-Sendai city and back. The area's location near the west coast. Only 35km to the NE is the prime XC launch Uono, from where it is possible to cross clear to the other side of Kyushu. The right conditions may be a bit difficult to come by, but a record-breaking Kyushu crossing flight is possible from here!
The active volcano Sakurajima in the background.
Satsuma-Sendai city with the East China Sea beyond.