| My Land, My Country
LAE - Marching into the PNGDF Air Transport Squadron in Lae as a young military pilot was beginning of an exciting flying career and lasting camaraderie with other airmen.
With no experience but full of energy, we were assigned to B Flight with Nomad aircraft.
A Flight consisted of DC-3 and Israeli built Aravas.
It was a bit like the seniors separated from the juniors.
Our job on the Nomads included border operations, VIP flights, courier runs and sometimes search and rescue.
At times two co-pilots would take a Nomad for a training flight and had to remain within 20 nautical miles (about 37 kilometers) of Lae Airport.
We would fly to Finschhafen, Wau, Bulolo, Pindiu, Teptep and other locations to build our confidence.
The squadron also had Australian Defence Force personnel.
The ‘Mushroom Club’ was the name given to the bar at the hangar.
It would come to life every Friday and soldiers and officers would leave their rank at the entrance and enter the club in their name.
It was a tradition that bonded the unit and made it unique to the rest of the force.
The Air Transport Squadron and its fleet of fixed wing DC-3s, Aravas and Nomads, often had a shortage of pilots. Some, including myself, flew two different types.
I commanded a Nomad aircraft and would hop out and jump into a DC-3 as co-pilot for another task on the same day.
I clicked over 34 years of flying this year and there are plenty of stories to be told.
Paul Boga is a former Papua New Guinea Defence Force pilot