One way to get into the Aso mountains is to drive by Mt. Tawara. The spot where these pictures were taken is about a kilometer or so east of the mountain but I think it's safe to say that this is still pretty much in the vicinity. Winds blow up the mountain, providing ideal conditions for paragliders and radio-controlled gliders. My neighbor and colleague, Prof. Nakayama, likes things that fly so we invited him to come to the area with us. He was nice enough to bring a battery powered airplane along for the kids. The first picture shows him beginning to assemble it and gives you a rough idea of what the area was like.
In the second picture, Prof. Nakayama has just finished assembling the airplane and is about to fly it. It has a small, light-weight rechargeable battery that powers a fan housed in the hull. Just in front of the wing you can see one of two ducts that takes air in to the fan. The air is then pushed out the back end of the plane. We were surprised at how well it worked. Only about 30 seconds of charging (with a hand-held, battery-powered charger) were enough to power the engine for over 30 seconds of flight. 30 seconds may not sound like a lot but it was enough to cause us concern about whether we would ever get the plane back. Fortunately, it landed within reach but we decided not to take another chance with it at that spot.
The third picture shows two other guests, Ryota (the boy) and Satomi, who live in the same apartment building. We were not planning to invite them (not enough room in one car) but they caught wind of our plans that morning and asked (whined?) to come along. This meant that Mariko had to drive our second car. A tiring experience for her but Leon and Mia seemed to enjoy the company. I think Ryota and Satomi had a nice time too.