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Sunday, September 15, 2013: Day 22 - Nagoya-Petropavlosk, Russia
091513 Front-page coverage in Sept 14 newspaperIt was a sad day for me leaving Nagoya after all of the excitement over the past couple days (photo left: N50ET's arrival makes front-page news.) Our friends from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) have been so hospitable and gracious during our stay. I cannot thank them enough for their kindness, and I now have a much clearer understanding of how our MU-2's were created and the integrity behind091513 Waiting to leave Nagoya 
their support. My friend Zipper has told me over the years about his trips to Nagoya when he was a demo pilot for MHI and what a great group of people they are. This morning, once again Yoshi was right there to help us, and the three of us rode by taxi to the airport. Once we arrived, there was Tod and Masan to see us off. We had to delay our departure to Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk for approximately 45 minutes because of the strong tailwind--yes, we finally got tailwinds--and the Yuzhno airport was closed up until 0400Z. (Photo right: Waiting to leave Nagoya.) When it was finally time to leave, we made our final farewells, and we were on our way. With the fast-approaching Tropical Storm, Man-Yi, I was anxious to get airborne, and though we already had some rain, it fortunately was clear for our departure. 

At 25,000 feet we were in cloud and icing conditions for most of our flight to Yuzhno. It is very easy flying in Japan; like in the US, you are in radar control and VHF all the way. The Japanese Contollers in most cases are very easy to understand. As we enter into Russia Khabarovsk Control, the controller was again easy to understand. He gave us a STAR into Yuzhno and descent to 1600 meters--yes, meters. But I was ready and fully prepared because Ross Russo told me last night at dinner that this could be an option. We flew a full procedure ILS approach to runway 19 using the meter conversion chart on the approach plate and broke visual at about 500 feet, or perhaps I should say 152m. After landing we taxied to the terminal building and parked in Bay 4. We were met by our handler, customs, and I presume immigration. We were given the option of going to the terminal and clearing customs or staying at the aircraft and going on to Petropavlovsk to clear customs. Because we were staying the night in Petropavlovsk, I thought clearing at Petro made the most sense. Mike--speaking fluent Russian through many hand signals-- seemed to get N50ET fueled as needed.

091513 Arriving in Petropavlovsk 1628I cannot believe that we are actually in Russia--but we are because the Garmin says so. We wished everyone well and again we are ready for departure. It has been easy so far in Russia, and the Controllers are good to work with. At 25,000 feet we are in cloud the entire way to Petropavlovsk, though we did not see the Sea of Okhotsk; that was such a shame, because I have always wanted to see the Sea of Okhotsk. Today we are blessed with a 65 knot tailwind--I could really get used to this kind of speed--and believe now I will get tailwinds all the way to Aiken, which is only 5136 miles away and 15 hours and 15 minutes at this speed. Looking at the Petropavlovsk approach chart, we have a 9035 ft. mountain on one side and a 4056 ft. mountain on the other side of the airport. Petropavlovsk just advised us that the weather is clear and 17 degrees centigrade. As we approached Petro it was another STAR and another ILS approach.  We broke out at 11,000 feet and landed at Petropavlovsk safe and sound to beautiful scenery (photo above left: arriving in Petropavlosk). We were met by our handler, customs, and immigration. Everyone was very helpful, and it has been yet another great stop. Today, something happened to 3 hours of our day, so it was a late night when we arrived at the hotel and checked into our rooms. Although the restaurant was closing in 15 minutes, they prepared a meal and brought it to our rooms along with a Russian beer.

Saturday, September 14, 2013: Day 21 - Nagoya, Japan
Today is the 50th anniversary of the first flight of the MU-2. Mike Collins and I are here in Nagoya with N50ET as guests of Mitsubishi. Tod, Mason, and Yoshi from Mitsubishi have treated us with so much respect and have been so generous and hospitable; they have thought of everything to make our time in Japan as enjoyable as they can. I am so grateful for their hospitality, and I will never forget this historic day.

As our wonderful day was winding down we bid Tod and Mason a fond farewell for the evening; we will see them again in the morning for our departure. As we walked into the Marriott lobby heading for the elevator, I caught a glimpse out the corner of my eye of a person that looked091413 Ross Russo surprises Mike Laver in Nagoya very similar to Ross Russo, my dear friend and owner of MU-2 Solitaire, N62CN. As I took a closer look--I realized it was Ross--and that once again, I have been surprised by my friends (photo right: Ross Russo surprises Mike in Nagoya). I played cool at first though and gave Ross a casual wave and kept on walking; Ross waved back and looked at the floor. What a pleasant surprise that Ross, after climbing Mt. Fuji yesterday, jumped on the DSC 5400Bullet Train from Tokyo with his cousin and climbing partner, Vaughn Girol, and came to visit for a few hours to wish Mike and I well on our trip. What an incredible time we have had in Nagoya--thanks to all our of friends.

On another note I need to update everyone from yesterday. As promised I carried the framed and signed print of the MU-2 fleet from the 2013 MU-2 Fly-In. I presented the print to Mr.Tod Takasu from MHI on behalf of all the MU-2 owners in America (photo above left). In presenting the print I explained how we have such a loyal group of owners who appreciate the integrity of the Mitsubishi MU-2 and the outstanding support that Mitsubishi provides us.

Friday, September 13, 2013: Day 20 - Taipei-Nagoya, Japan
MU-2A prototype2This morning we were up at 0500 for an 0600 pick up at the hotel. The driver was there, ready to pick us up, and we were on our 10-minute ride to the airport. The handlers were at the departure area of the airport waiting, and once again we were through immigration and security within minutes. Then it was a long walk past all the great duty free shops of Hermes, Burberry, Louis Vuitton and many more. We could have bought anything we wanted but my focus was on our flight to Nagoya--the whole purpose of this trip. Just think, tomorrow it will be 50 years since the first flight of the MU-2! (Photo left:  prototype of MU-2A in test flight in 1963 in Nagoya, Japan.)  This year also marks the 40 year anniversary of N50ET (S/N 260), which is now a modern aircraft with updated engines, avionics, and propellers that will outperform anything in its category--what an amazing aircraft! 

When we arrived alongside N50ET, we bid our fantastic handlers farewell; they did a great job and again were very polite and respectful. Today we were to depart off runway 05 left, which was probably only 1000 feet from we're we were parked. Once airborne our standard instrument departure was a straight ahead climb up to 25,000 feet in clear weather. Our leg today is 1059 nautical miles and the winds are light and variable. All communications are on VHF, and they all speak Australian very well. After just 50 minutes we are crossing the FIR boundary into Japan's air space and talking to Fukuoka Control while under complete radar control. Today Baseops filed us at 296 knots, though I opted to cruise at 290 knots which brought my fuel burn down and put us just 4 minutes behind the flight planned time in Nagoya. Fukuoka Control just cleared us direct to Kushimoto--though I don't believe they understood my response--so we tracked to KEC (Kushimoto) and advised. The descent and approach into Nagoya was very easy, with radar vectors for the runway 16 VOR/DME approach in clear skies, but with reduced visibility because of the haze.

Hustle and BustleWhen we taxied to the ramp in Nagoya, I was so surprised and delighted to see a crowd of well wishers (photo left). Mike and I were so kindly given gifts of flowers, and of course there were many photos taken. It was very obvious that Mitsubishi had plans for us. After fueling and clearing Group photo at the Nagoya Airportcustoms and immigration, we were taken to the Mitsubishi factory on the airport where lunch was organized. Later we were given a fascinating tour of the Mitsubishi Factory museum, which included the history and an airframe of the Mitsubishi Zero, and we saw the first long (G) model MU-2 that has apparently not long been taken out of service in Japan. Next we were taken to see the MU-2A, the start of the aircraft that we all love and respect. Yoshiaki Asako from MHIA who most of us know was here to greet us and see that we are well taken care of (photo right: group photo with Mike and N50ET). I am so grateful to Mitsubishi for the respect, honor, and hospitality they showed us on arrival.

Thursday, September 12, 2013:  Day 19 - Cebu-Taipai, Taiwan
091213 Mike Laver completes departure paperwork in PhilippinesToday our departure was scheduled for 10:00 AM, though we were at the airport and ready to go at 0830--I am not sure how that happened. Again the handlers were so polite and friendly; they arrived with customs and immigration, and we were stamped out right at the aircraft. (Photo left: Mike completing depature paperwork in the Philippines.) We requested an early departure from Mactan Clearance. Fortunately they accommodated us, so we were on our way to Taipei.

We started at 24,000 feet then later climbed to 25,000 feet for our 1028 nautical mile leg to Taipai. Today was VHF all the way--so that made communication easy--Manila Centre and Taiwan Centre were very 091213 N50ET on the business aviation ramp at Taoyuaneasy to understand as well as polite and helpful. Today we had to do quite a bit of diverting for weather, but overall it was a nice flight. As we approached Taipei, we were radar vectored for the runway 23L ILS; that approach was visual all the way except for around one mile visibility because of the haze. Taipei is a huge international airport, and there is no doubt that we were the smallest aircraft there by far. (Photo right: N50ET on the business aviation ramp at the Taiwan Taoyuan International airport.) After about 15 minutes, however, we lucked out and were joined by a single engine Piper Meridian.

Hotel GuestAfter Mike handled the fueling, we were on our way through the terminal building for Customs and Immigration. That process was as easy as every other place we have been to thanks to Baseops having everything organized so well. Except for the instrument approach, my flight plan time was within 2 minutes of my actual time. I landed with 110 gallons still remaining--what a great flight! Tomorrow is the big day with our flight to Nagoya, Japan, the home of Mitsubishi and of course the original home of the MU-2. 

(Photo left: Mike has an unexpected room guest this evening.)