A recent transpolar Japan-Europe flight got me thinking: what would it be like to fly all the way around Russia in a small turboprop? So I pieced together an itinerary, focusing on 3D airports for maximum eye candy.
I decided to start with the hardest part – getting up the Pacific coast from Japan, with no diversion options between Japan and Alaska. The northernmost 3D airports in Japan are Rebun and Aomori, and of the two, Rebun seemed like a more picturesque place to start. It’s also very close to Russian airspace, so I had to start by flying to the southeast to catch the eastbound airway toward my first stop at Shemya (there are two airways closer to Russian airspace, but they are for westbound traffic).
Rebun is a tiny airport on a small island off the coast of Hokkaido. In real life it has been “temporarily” closed since 2009, as the island didn’t get enough traffic to sustain even small prop service. What better place to start a journey that could easily be mistaken for a spy mission?
Fortunately they still had some [old] fuel on hand, so with a full tank, and some local snacks, I was off.
In just a few minutes I was passing over Wakkanai, on the northern tip of Hokkaido. I decided to climb slowly to stretch my fuel as much as possible. The good news was a strong wind from the southeast – 50 kts at this low altitude. It made this part of the flight a little bumpy, but would help propel me up the Pacific track.
My climb continued over Monbetsu, on the Sea of Okhotsk. In the winter, the sea freezes and icebergs crash into the shore here.
By FL200 the wind speed was up to 86kts. The scenery in eastern Hokkaido was getting increasingly breathtaking.
Soon I approached Nemuro, the eastern tip of the island, past which I could see the southernmost of the Kuril Islands (which are claimed by Japan but have been occupied by Russia since the end of WWII). The nearby airport of Nakashibetsu would be my last diversion option before the Aleutian Islands.
At FL240 the wind was up to >120kts from starboard, and the little turboprop was bobbing back and forth as if it might fall out of the sky at any moment. I made a course adjustment via NUBDA and PUGAL to intercept the airway at an angle and take advantage of the winds as much as possible.
With the wind at my tail at FL290, I was getting GS 481 at 208 IAS (M 0.57). Not bad for a prop!
Next stop: Shemya Island, Alaska (PASY)…