CONTRIBUTED BY SARAH FILLMAN

My husband and I are pretty new to Okinawa and we went by the Schilling Community Center on Kadena AB to grab some good maps of the island. While we were there, I noticed a table full of drawings and giveaway. I dropped our names into a few of the drawings, without really knowing what we were signing up for and not too hopeful.

Well, we WON! Our names were drawn to take a free flight around the island called the ‘Discovery Flight.’

Discovery Plane
Discovery Plane

We went to the Aero Club on Saturday and met our pilot, Asst. Chief Pilot Lance Dale, who is also a flight instructor for earning your pilot’s license on base. He led us out to a Cessna 172, four-seater airplane for our flight around the island. It just so happened that it was a beautiful and clear day!

Discovery Inside
Discovery Inside

Okinawa is beautiful on the ground, but seeing the island from the sky was a totally different experience. It really put the size of Okinawa into perspective. We flew from Kadena, up the western coastline over the East China Sea. From there we flew along the coast up to Nago, and then we turned around and came back. From the air we saw the Kadena Marina, all of the beautiful beaches along the coast, Zampa Point and the cliffs, Maeda Point, Onna Village, Nago, a limestone quarry, Ina island and a really neat topographical view along with several other awesome sights.

Discovery Flight 3
Discovery Flight 3

The mountains! I had no idea there were so many mountains on Okinawa. We haven’t been to the northern part of the island, but now we know a little of what to expect. The tallest mountain on the island is 1600 ft.

Discovery Flight 1
Discovery Flight 1

We even flew over our neighborhood in Yomitan! This photo shows Nirai Beach.

Probably my favorite thing to see was the gorgeous Zampa lighthouse. We go to Zampa a few times a week, so to see it from the sky was really spectacular. The pilot had us flying between 800-1,000 ft. which gave us really gorgeous views.

Discovery Zampa
Discovery Zampa

During the flight, our pilot told us some pretty cool facts about Okinawa. The island is not volcanic but actually limestone. It is quite literally the top of a submerged limestone mountain that was once completely underwater until the top poked its head out of the ocean and Okinawa was born. The widest part of the island is 18 miles across, the narrowest is 2 miles across, and 70 miles from top to bottom. Okinawa also includes 160 smaller surrounding islands.

If you are interested in signing up for a flight, call the Aero Club on Kadena, or drop your name in a giveaway box at Schilling and you might just win a free flight!

Aero Club Info:
Comm: 098-959-5655
DSN: 959-5655
Open M-F 1000-1800
Sat 1100-1500

Pricing for the Discovery Flight:
1 person is $150 for 1 hour
2 people is $180 for 1 hour

8 COMMENTS

  1. Hi. Just wanted to let anyone interested in the Discovery Flight know that the Aero Club is now located in the Schilling Community Center and you would need to go in the office to make a reservation and pay on it. Prices have changed and they also do gift certificates. Also, they do not do helicopter tours.

    • The prices and contact information in the article are no longer current. If this is something you are interested in call the base operator and ask for the Aero Club. You will get correct information from their staff.

    • Craig — This post is not directly attached to the Discovery Flight people. You’ll need to contact them directly at the phone numbers above. Have a wonderful anniversary celebration!

  2. Trying to call the number listed above, so my husband and I can experience this activity, but no one is answering the phone. Just wondering if they’ve change their number by any chance?

  3. I just wanted to say that my husband, son and myself took a flight through the Kadena Aero Club and it was well worth the price we paid. Their normal charge is $199 for up to three people but if you have a club card they give you a discount. Lance was our pilot and he was fantastic. His knowledge of the island is fantastic and his flying skills are beyond belief. Our trip took us north from Kadena on the East China Sea around to Hedo Point and back down the Pacific Ocean side of the island. It was absolutely one of the most beautiful sights I have seen since coming to Okinawa and I strongly recommend doing this if at all possible.

  4. Loved your pictures! My house just missed making it into that Zanpa Lightouse shot. Awesome that you guys got to experience Okinawa like that. Too Cool!!

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