Captain Irving and the Flying Classroom took off Sunday from Anchorage at 12:25 p.m. Alaskan Time (4:25 EST). The journey took them across the International Date Line. When they landed in Anadyr, Russia 2 hours and 29 minutes later, it was already Monday morning!
The Flying Classroom carries far less fuel than a commercial airliner, so it has to stop more often—about every 1,300 nautical miles. After refueling in Anadyr, Captain Irving will refuel again in Petropavlovsk on the Kamchatka Peninsula before ending a 9-hour flight day in Sapporo, Japan.
You may have heard on the news that a volcano erupted yesterday in Japan, 125 miles west of Tokyo. Mount Ontake, the country’s second-tallest volcano (10,062 feet), erupted at 11:53 a.m. local time Saturday, sending an ash plume 2.5 miles into the sky and a pyroclastic flow of water, ash, and rock down its southwestern slopes.
This wasn’t a magmatic eruption, the kind with fountains of lava. Instead, experts are calling it a “phreatic eruption” caused when water under the ground was suddenly super-heated into steam. This rapid boiling released an incredible amount of gas, which caused the ground to fracture. All of the trapped steam then exploded out of the side of the mountain as you can see in this webcam footage.
The Flying Classroom is still scheduled to land in northern Japan before traveling on to Nagoya on Tuesday. Not to worry. As one of our meterologists explains in the video above, there are several ways Universal Weather & Aviation will help Captain Irving and the Flying Classroom steer clear of airborne ash. One option is to avoid the scheduled stop in Nagoya and proceed directly to Shanghai from Sapporo.
The winds shift, and we check them every few hours, so to try to make the evaluation now would be premature. Once they get on the ground in Sapporo, we’ll be looking closer at where the ash plume is going and will see if a reroute needs to happen. We can make it happen if we need to, but right now it doesn’t look like it. We’ll keep you posted.