Stefan Fanselow

Stefan FanselowOccupation:
Investment banking / CFI (freelance)

Time in Japan:

16 years on-and-off

Where are you from?
Frankfurt, Germany.

What brought you to Japan?
An assignment by a former company to study Japanese language and business in the early '

What do you do for work?
I manage the investment banking office of DG Bank, a cooperative financial institution from Frankfurt, Germany.

I hear you are a pilot in your spare time. Can you tell us something about that?
I started flying several years ago in America and was immediately fascinated by it. I used to travel regularly to the US, rent an airplane and go on a trip without any prearranged destination or time schedule. Over the years, I accumulated more and more pilot time and advanced in proficiency by obtaining additional ratings. Now I am a commercial pilot for single and multi engine airplanes and also hold an instrument rating, which enables pilots to fly in less than perfect weather or in clouds. I own two airplanes, one in the US and one in Tokyo.

What is the "Japan Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association" and what is your position there?
JAOPA is a non-profit organization of pilots and aircraft owners in Japan. We promote general aviation through safety seminars, fly-in's and members' gatherings, and have a lot of fun in the process, all while enjoying a view and perspective of Japan very few people ever have. We are associated with other AOPA's around the world through an international network. I was JAOPA's first non-Japanese member, have developed a website in English about flying in Japan and act as their "anchor man" for international contacts in general.

Are you also an instructor?
Yes. I am an AFAA (American Federal Aviation Administration) Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) and give initial and advanced flight training and ground instruction, which I often enhance by the use of a PC-based "simulator". For non-native English speakers, I teach aviation English and procedures in US airspace. For pilots coming to fly in Japan, I can arrange courses to familiarize them with the intricacies of flying in Japan.

Any advice for people that want to get a pilot's license here?
The best time to start flying is right now. Anybody living in Japan and interested in learning to fly should go for an introductory ride here to see how beautiful it is. Talk to a CFI about how flight training is structured. Virtually all of the theoretical and ground training as well as the written tests can be done in here Japan.

What is your recipe for a happy life in Japan?
Visit many places. Japan is a beautiful country with a fascinating mix of cityscapes, such as Tokyo or Osaka, and an abundance of nature with mountains and the ocean close together. Seeing it from the air makes all the difference. Be open to new impressions and experiences. Relax, and be yourself.

For more information regarding flight training, general aviation, or flying in Japan, contact Stefan Fanselow at   The JAOPA website in English is at

Stefan Fanselow spoke to Maki Nibayashi

Do you know an interesting person in Tokyo? If so, email us at

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Issues 250-299

Issues 150-199