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Bill Dudding’s Itazuki Arrival




My first flight into Kai Tak airport so many years ago was just what you would want – a late afternoon descent through cloud into Runway 13. Suddenly the ground was in sight, the buildings were dramatically close and, sitting in a window seat on the left side of the aircraft, I saw the chequerboard clearly as the 747 turned on to final.



Approaching the Fukuoka beacon before the turn out to sea.


My flight into Fukuoka airport on the west coast of Japan last month was not to be so lucky. The fourth busiest airport in Japan, it is surrounded by residential areas, hills, radio towers; the approach for some is reminiscent of Kai Tak. The ANA flight from Narita made its descent over the city in the dark, turned over the harbour and landed neatly from the west into Runway 16 - but from my seat there was little to see.


During the Korean War Captain William A. Dudding made an instrument procedure landing there in a C-47; a flight that was to cost him his job. The story is given in Felix Smith’s article at the Civil Air Transport (CAT)/Air America web site. Dudding was the newest pilot of a WWII surplus C-47 which has its own interesting story. It was the pilot’s first flight into Itazuki Air Base (as Fukuoka Airport was then known) and routine procedure was to practice the descent and instrument landing into a new airport where possible in good weather, before it was needed in earnest.


En route from Korea he had invited his passenger, the USAF Contract officer responsible for hiring the aircraft, on to the flight deck. On approach to Itazuki the weather was clear; blue sky, visibility unlimited. Dudding knew Itazuki’s reputation for radio towers, hills, rain and fog so instead of making an easy straight-in approach he made the instrument arrival.


Dudding didn’t explain his decision to the passenger in the jump seat, who wasn't a pilot (he was an attorney) - who then filed an official complaint that the pilot got lost even though the airport stuck out clearly in the sunshine. The manager of the struggling air transport company knew what had happened but the politics of keeping the contract took over. Dudding was let go.


The flight. I don’t know the arrival procedure into Itazuki that got Dudding into trouble. There are a variety of Instrument Arrival charts for Fukuoka in Simplates (Dauntless Software), for example, and also a 2006 set are freely available at the Virtual ATC Center website[/url]. Just flying the airport area in FSX in a small aircraft in good weather will give you the feel of Dudding’s experience. Finally I chose the Fukuoka ADF RWY 16 arrival - inbound on the DME beacon from the north, a leg out to sea at 321º and then the turn on to the runway approach at 156º. It is the sort of arrival that would generate the contract attorney’s complaint.


Allan Jones



Allan Jones is the author of In a Moon’s Course, an ebook of World War II flight stories/plans of the Air Transport Auxiliary, available at Amazon, Kobo, W.H. Smith and other ebook online suppliers.

Edited by allanj12



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