This article examines the techno-cultural process of accommodating, training, and qualifying the Japanese as pilots responsible for Pacific flights in the decade after the end of the allied occupation of Japan in 1952. There were two related modes of qualifying Japanese pilots, both of which created traffic of people, knowledge, and machines across the Pacific: One was the slow, politicized process of permitting Japanese pilots to fly again and training them with reference to American models of flying. Another mode of qualification consisted of measuring and recording the bodily differences between Japanese and American pilots, so that Japanese bodies could fit into American-designed cockpits and flying garments. Under the postwar technopolitical regime and given lingering racial perceptions, the terms and norms of the flying body and practice were mostly set by the American system, to which the Japanese worked hard to adapt. In this process, the cockpit and the Pacific served as crucial frames of reference for the Japanese. With its focus on pilot training and qualification, this article aims to bring together the histories of aviation, science, and U.S.-Japan relations and to situate them in the Pacific as a physical, imaginary, and technopolitical space.

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