Passion for flying

I, Hisashi Sawada, the founder of SkySanta Aviation, was born and raised on Irabu Island, an island next to Miyako Island, and as a child, I used to fly once every few years to visit my relatives in Osaka. I remember seeing the neat uniforms and the big aircraft up close and admiring them as a boy.

When I was in primary school, the Shimojijima Training Airfield was established as the only training ground for jet airliners in Japan for JAL and ANA, and every day from morning to night I could watch the big jets training for takeoff and landing right in front of me.

I still remember that when I was in junior high school, I had a vague idea that it would be nice if the town of Irabu (now part of Miyakojima City, but at the time it was an independent administrative division) bought an airplane and flew it directly to Naha or Tokyo. I wondered if that was possible. For people like us who grew up on remote islands, where boats were the norm, the idea of flying is very special. Now there is a bridge between Miyako Island and Irabu Island, so it is possible to travel by car, but in the past, the only way to get to the island was by boat.

Becoming a pilot of my dreams

After graduating from university, I went to study at a pilot school in the USA and obtained a certificate to fly small aircraft. However, the road to becoming a professional pilot was difficult, and at the age of 30 I gave up my dream of becoming a professional pilot, but I have been working in the aviation industry ever since.

Becoming a pilot of my dreams

After graduating from university, I went to study at a pilot school in the USA and obtained a certificate to fly small aircraft. However, the road to becoming a professional pilot was difficult, and at the age of 30 I gave up my dream of becoming a professional pilot, but I have been working in the aviation industry ever since.

Thoughts on the remote island air route

Every time I went back to Irabu Island after graduating, I started to feel sad that the island didn’t have good businesses. When I was living on the island, I didn’t feel it at all, and I didn’t notice it, but once I got out of the island and got to know the life in the city, I started to look at the island from a new angle, and I started to feel that it was gloomy.

When I started working in the aviation industry, I started to think about how airplanes could be used to revitalize the island, and as I grew older and learned more about various social systems, I began to think that actually flying airplanes to the island would definitely revitalize the local economy.

Never forget the sight of an old lady on the plane

I used to work for a company called Air dolphin, which used Naha Airport as a main base and flew to the surrounding islands. When I was with Air Dolphin, there were only two passengers on the plane, me and an old lady, and although I was worried that she might not be used to flying, she was sitting proudly in her kimono.

It’s only a 20-30 minute flight, instead of an hour or more on a boat, but the strain on the body is much harder than you might think. Airplanes should be the safest way for elderly people and pregnant women to travel, and I would like to run an airplane to every remote island because the sight of that old lady is etched in my memory.

Behind the name Sky Santa

At Air dolphin, they already had our own planes and a business licence, so everything was smooth. But when I started Sky Santa Aviation, everything was from scratch. We need to get an aircraft, we need to get a business license, we need to do everything from the beginning. I want to work with the local people to create an air route connecting all the islands. I want to know your opinion and work together to build the infrastructure that this island needs.

By positioning airplanes as part of the infrastructure of daily life, we hope that the local people will be able to make their voices heard and participate actively. All I can do is operating airplanes, and I want to make the people of Okinawa happy and wealthy. That’s my simple vision. I want to deliver happiness and dreams from the sky. When I thought of this, I naturally thought of “Christmas and Santa Claus”. That’s how we came up with the name “SkySanta Aviation”.

Behind the name Sky Santa

At Air dolphin, they already had our own planes and a business licence, so everything was smooth. But when I started Sky Santa Aviation, everything was from scratch. We need to get an aircraft, we need to get a business license, we need to do everything from the beginning. I want to work with the local people to create an air route connecting all the islands. I want to know your opinion and work together to build the infrastructure that this island needs.

By positioning airplanes as part of the infrastructure of daily life, we hope that the local people will be able to make their voices heard and participate actively. All I can do is operating airplanes, and I want to make the people of Okinawa happy and wealthy. That’s my simple vision. I want to deliver happiness and dreams from the sky. When I thought of this, I naturally thought of “Christmas and Santa Claus”. That’s how we came up with the name “SkySanta Aviation”.

At SkySanta we have been preparing the planes, but we have also been working to create a system to attract people to come to Okinawa. We have seen an increase in the number of international visitors to Okinawa, but we have not been able to keep up those visitors. That’s why we need to work in multiple fields and comprehensive way with the ideas and help of the people of Okinawa.

Founder & CEO

Hisashi Sawada