Captain Irving and the Flying Classroom took off Monday from Shanghai at 10 a.m. local time (10 p.m. EST). After stopping for an hour to refuel in Hong Kong, they departed for their first stop in Southeast Asia: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. On Tuesday, the Flying Classroom flew to Singapore.

Photo by Oliver Uberti

Before each flight leg, we send Captain Irving and First Officer Kielty a series of wind and weather charts to review (left). In this region, they need to watch out for powerful storms, like the two that have roared through the western Pacific Ocean recently. Typhoon Phanfone hit Japan on Monday morning with torrential rain and winds of up to 104 miles per hour, the equivalent of a Category 2 hurricane. It knocked out power in thousands of homes and suspended many flights.

Meanwhile, Typhoon Vongfong ripped through Guam and the Mariana Islands earlier this week and is currently turning north toward Japan. A combination of light wind shear and warm Pacific waters transformed Vongfong into a super typhoon with sustained winds near 150 mph! As of early Friday morning, Vongfong has weakened slightly to 140mph (equivalent to a Category 4 hurricane), but it’s still the most powerful storm on Earth this year.

Though these storms are currently well north of the Flying Classroom’s route, we will continue to monitor them and how they affect weather patterns throughout the region. You can never be too careful.