I identified it as Udsi Sima, two islands and a chimney rock. So thus far my navigation had been all right, and I was only 1% degrees out on the whole flight. I poured myself a brandy, added water from a separate bottle and drank to celebrate the occasion. I lit a cigar, and in ten minutes had forgotten all my worries. On reaching the mainland, I skimmed a densely forested ridge of little hills, smothered in Christmas trees. On the other side I came upon Kagoshima in the dusk, at the edge of a purple-tinted flat beside a smooth expanse of inland water. The beauty of it all made me draw in my breath sharply; then I began searching the busy waterfront for a safe place to land. Launches and motor-boats were crawling everywhere, and after my experience at Formosa I had determined to alight somewhere where I could not be reached by a Japanese launch for twenty minutes.
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I spotted a flagged buoy with two men on it, who appeared to be waving flags. I dived to fly close above them, for the twilight was making it difficult to see from any height. I found that it was an area buoyed off for swimming, and teeming with bathers. Near by was a small reef-enclosed lagoon, and I banked to alight, but as I was about to settle the floor of the lagoon appeared quite bare of water and scared me off. I had to be extra careful, because it was ten times harder to alight without any error of judgement after a long sea flight. At last I found a small creek entering the sea at right-angles. I swooped down, inspected it closely, circled and settled softly on the calm water, stopping fifty yards below a small bridge that spanned it. I looked at my watch, 9.55; I had taken eight hours and forty minutes. I looked at the petrol gauge; it showed empty,
but I knew from previous experience that it held twenty minutes flight after it showed empty. I taxied a few yards to the side of the creek to a small shallow, which I reckoned was too shallow for the launches, so that I could be approached only by sampans. By the time three launches packed with Japanese officials, reporters and photographers came swishing into the creek I had all my gear on a wing root, with the seaplane ready to moor for the night. I was transferred to a launch from a sampan without a single shout needed.
After I had been introduced to all the officials the questioning began at once. Hayashi-san was the interpreter, and they all fired questions at him rapidly.
‘What iss first land of Japan you come, pliz? I think every one of them asked me what land I had first sighted, my exact course from there to Kagoshima, and then wanted me to show it all to him on the chart. At first I thought this was only a matter of every official having to ask this in order to save his face before the others, but each asked it all a second time, a third, a fourth and a fifth. Presently Hayashi introduced a new question, ‘What iss your trade, pliz?’
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