jeudi 18 mai 2017
A long journey, very VERY loooong journey !
0530 on the 17th, we wake up early on that day because we want to enjoy the benefit of a free highway towards Geneva airport. How could we miss the flight ?
Checkin done at a SWISS counter and up two flights of stairs to enjoy a good and healthy breakfast at the airport
The flight to Zürich was on a 777 this day, despite the short 35 minutes duration. SWISS has an order for ten 777-300ER and as training needs to be done for the pilots, they do some short legs across Europe. Normally this airplane is made for ultra long range flights, therefore a 12 hours cruise for only one take-off and one landing wouldn’t be enough to train newer Pilots.
Here you can see the swiss and french Alps through the window ! I personnally enjoyed a much better view, the one from Marie, with whom I share that incredible story.
Arriving in Zürich Terminal A, we changed towards the Dock midfield Terminal via a underground transportation, typically swiss made with sound of cows and Alp horn.
1225am, time to board the A340-300 at gate E43. Ready for our 11h50 flight to Tokyo Narita. Our routing of the day was quite simple, take-off on runway 16, left turn out to waypoint DEGES and all the way towards Russia. We crossed Russia from West to East, then a slightly southerly heading onwards to Sapporo on the Island of Hokkaido for finally landing at Narita Terminal 1. Tired ? Not so at first, however, we still had our bullet train journey for Kobe. 4 hours later, here we are, in Kobe, figuring out where to pick up the hotel shuttle for the Portopia Hotel.
We made it, first time on the land of the rising sun, tired, exhausted but at the idea of getting to Kobe airport in order to meet up with Francisco and Gérard, our Engineer, I wasn’t tired anymore ! Marie stayed at the hotel and off I went, greeting the Legend, resting in the hangar since 10 days.
We made some light maintenance work, checked different things like oil, fuel level, cleaning up the aisle and also meeting the Hirata team who will be of a great help during the next three days. Here in Japan you cannot just take your airplane out of the hangar and go flying, even VFR. You need permissions all the time, file a flight plan and make sure it is approved by the authorities. Of course this is more appropriate when flying from Kobe airport which is so close to Kansai, the main gateway to the Kansai area and Osaka Itami, north of Osaka downtown.
At around 6.30pm we headed back to the hotel in order to meet up with the rest of the team, Katsuhiko Tokunaga, Michiru Shida, Hiromi Nakamura, the famous japanese Aerospace and Science journalist, Editor of japanese Aviation Journal, Gregory Lemoigne who is responsible for videos and pictures for Breitling and the Breitling Japan team. A good buffet dinner and a japanese beer later, we headed towards our room, eager to get some good night sleep !