It's a clear Wednesday morning and I have a very good view through the windows of my Cessna 172. We took off from Chofu Airport in the western suburbs of Tokyo a few minutes ago. I am already 4,000 feet up in the sky over Tokyo, flying stably north at about 185 kph. I am keeping my hands rigidly on the joystick and my eyes on the cockpit instruments and the view outside.

When I look down from the cockpit windows I can see the Shinjuku skyscrapers to my left. That's very nice, but really my entire concentration is focused on the instruments in front of me — especially the attitude indicator that's telling me whether I am flying level, upside-down or at some other bizarre angle.

Feeling a few troubling trembles rising through my seat, I remember my instructor's words: "Do not move the joystick much, as the airplane is designed to fly straight."