Aviation Feed

A very good morning for a Medevac

Medivac 1 aerial top
MAF Medevac - Piet and Marijke flew over some of the world's most rugged and beautiful terrain on their mercy mission

|MAF Telefomin

TELEFOMIN – On a Saturday in late August, I had the opportunity to join a Medevac flight with my pilot husband, Piet.

Piet was asked to Medevac a woman with a broken back and an MAF lady offered to babysit our boys so that I could join Piet on the operation. A golden opportunity.

Continue reading "A very good morning for a Medevac" »

Strong backlash over Covid ‘deception’ charge

The Indian High Commission in Port Moresby

| Al Jazeera | Edited extract

SYDNEY - The Indian high commission in Papua New Guinea has denied claims by PNG police commissioner David Manning that it helped unauthorised passengers, including four who were infected with Covid-19, to arrive in Port Moresby.

The denial came after Mr Manning last week banned all flights from India, accusing the Indian government of deliberately participating in deception that compromised PNG’s safety and security.

Continue reading "Strong backlash over Covid ‘deception’ charge" »

Great NG airship expedition that never happened

Postcard printed in 1913 to pre-order of the Pf2, Mk1 and never-produced Mk20 stamps. Only known copy in existence


MORRISET – It is an historical oddity more like an absurdist Monty Python sketch than reality, but it is true.

In 1913, Germany, Britain and Holland, all colonial powers sharing New Guinea, began planning a joint expedition to the giant island.

Continue reading "Great NG airship expedition that never happened" »

Now listen up, you bullies & misogynists

Lucy Maino
Lucy Maino and all Papua New Guinean women need to be treated with  respect, decency and morality. Papua New Guinean men have much to be ashamed of

| Mic

NEW YORK - Lucy Maino was an accomplished role model before she became Miss Papua New Guinea.

The 25-year-old co-captained her country’s national football team, bringing home two gold medals from the 2019 Pacific Games in Samoa.

She also attended the University of Hawaii on a sports scholarship and earned a business degree.

Continue reading "Now listen up, you bullies & misogynists" »

34 years of flying & plenty of stories

Boga - pilots top
Paul Boga and fellow army pilots pose in front of a PNGDF Nomad

| 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.

Continue reading "34 years of flying & plenty of stories" »

Aviation could be unforgiving in PNG

3 Tabibuga on final
On final approach at Tabibuga in a Cessna 206. The strip was 1,250 feet long and its 8 degree slope required full throttle to get to the top after touch down


WARRADALE, SA - Flying in pre-GPS Papua New Guinea was certainly an unforgiving process.  I knew a number of people who did not survive it.

Harry Balfour-Ogilvy was a kiap in our intake in November 1965. He, his wife and two infant daughters all died in May 1970 when a dangerously overloaded plane took off from Gurney in Milne Bay.

Continue reading "Aviation could be unforgiving in PNG" »

Remembering the tragic Tauta plane crash

Brown 4 Dornier DO27
The Dornier DO27 that crashed when its engine failed after taking off from Tauta

| Edited extracts

Acknowledgement: The complete version of senior pilot the late Captain Bryan McCook’s article was originally published on the Professional Pilots Rumor Network. You can link to it here (requires a little downward scrolling)

THURSDAY 3 SEPTEMBER 1964 - My first task on this fateful day entailed flying a DCA aerodrome inspector from Goroka to Nondugl in the Cessna 185.

Nondugl, in the Waghi Valley, belonged to Sir Edward Hallstrom, a prominent industrialist, philanthropist and chairman of Taronga Park Zoo in Sydney. Many birds of paradise and other exotic fauna brought into Nondugl were destined for the zoo.

Continue reading "Remembering the tragic Tauta plane crash" »

Magnificent men & their flying machine stories

Talair near Omkolai 1966
A Talair Cessna over Omkolai, 1966


NOOSA – MAF pilot Dave Rogers’ recent yarn about the skills required to land on and take off from some of Papua New Guinea’s many preposterously difficult airstrips attracted much commentary and many war stories from our readers.

I’ve curated a few here, but first one of mine.

I had just become engaged to my first wife, Sue, at a grand party we had at my remote highlands school 10 or so kilometres from Kerowagi and Sue was on her way back home to Sydney to explain it all to her mother.

Continue reading "Magnificent men & their flying machine stories" »

Aviation: Safe landing & taking off in PNG

Dave Rogers and his aircraft
Dave Rogers and his aircraft - safe on the ground

| MAF Australia Pilot

SYDNEY - Probably one of the most common questions I’m asked by friends and supporters back home is, “What’s it like flying in Papua New Guinea?”

I thought I’d take this opportunity to answer it.

The risks of operating light aircraft, particularly in PNG, necessitates strict adherence to procedures and extensive training.

Continue reading "Aviation: Safe landing & taking off in PNG" »

The plane that flies on a pole

P2-ANQ was originally given by General Dwight Eisenhower for the personal use of General 'Monty' Montgomery in 1945

| Michie.net | Spotted by Rob Parer | Edited

PORT MORESBY - This DC3, P2-ANQ, with the name of ‘Larry Blackman’, is mounted on display outside the Air Niugini head office at Jackson’s international airport in Port Moresby.

It is there as a monument to all the airmen who gave their lives flying in Papua New Guinea.

Continue reading "The plane that flies on a pole" »

The airship saga that never happened

Mk1 stamp 1913
The one mark expedition stamp (used not for postage but to raise funds) depicting an airship over an idealised New Guinea


CANBERRA - More than a century ago in the years before World War I, the long-planned Joint German–British airship expedition – the Luftschiff Expedition – was due to conduct the first aerial survey of the mountainous, unexplored interior of New Guinea by airship.

Exploring and mapping the interior of the island by airship would be less costly and arduous than long, dangerous and difficult explorations by foot.

Continue reading "The airship saga that never happened" »

Crack down on international flights

Air Niugini
Papua New Guinea joins the global aviation shut down

| NBC News

PORT MORESBY - Papua New Guinea is shutting down international flights amid Coronavirus fears.

Flights in and out of Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, Sydney, Honiara and Nadi will cease next Sunday.

Prime minister James Marape said flights will be limited so as to only allow “controlled entry” from Brisbane, Cairns and Singapore.

Continue reading "Crack down on international flights" »

The tragic flight of Mary Madsen

Cessna 180
The Cessna 180 Skywagon was a common aircraft in 1960s PNG


MELBOURNE - In the mid-1960s, Mary and her partner, ‘Mads’ Madsen – no-one used his given forename, ran a small trade store at the top end of Angoram’s infamous Tobacco Road, a few metres from the banks of the Sepik River.

Both were in their mid- to late forties, although no-one knew for sure, and kept mostly to themselves in a small house attached to the trade store which they shared, literally, with a collection of possums and cuscuses which, as you’d expect, provided the house with a none-too-pleasant odour.

Continue reading "The tragic flight of Mary Madsen" »

Relics of B’ville crisis buried in Darwin dump

Russian-built Mil Mi-24 Hind attack helicopters at RAAF Base Tindal  1997
Russian-built Mil Mi-24 Hind attack helicopters at RAAF Base Tindal, 1997

| Australian Broadcasting Corporation | Extract

DARWIN - It is an unlikely setting for the final chapter of an international diplomatic scandal, but Darwin's waste dump holds an extraordinary secret beneath the surface.

"A few years ago, we had a couple of shipping containers turn up here that were required to be buried," Nik Kleine, the City of Darwin's executive manager of waste and capital works, said.

Continue reading "Relics of B’ville crisis buried in Darwin dump" »

The best I could have done at the time

P2-WKD at Siwea 1977
GOF's Cessna 182 P2-WKD at Siwea airstrip, Morobe Province, 1977

| The Bucket Blog

TROPICAL NORTH QUEENSLAND - Reflecting upon one’s own life from the vantage point of older age is sometimes rather like reading a tattered autobiographical account of someone else’s life.

Mine contains many examples of gross stupidity and incompetence, but it also, in an early chapter documents one single decision which would continue to shape my life to this day.

Continue reading "The best I could have done at the time" »

The practical wisdom of the kiap

Cessna 206
Cessna 206 taking off from Siwea in the Morobe hinterland, early 1970s (The Bucket Blog)


PORT MORESBY - I know at least one kiap who actually traversed the rugged terrain from his remote outpost.

My mother's offer letter to come to Lae and attend Busu girls’ high school from our hinterland Mindik village in Finschhafen was delivered by one Paul Oates to my grandfather.

Continue reading "The practical wisdom of the kiap" »

Air Niugini looks at ‘gross negligence’ as cause of Chuuk crash

Air Niugini is considering the Brazilian Embraer jet as a possible replacement for some of its current fleet


LONDON, UK - Air Niugini is bringing in ‘human-factors’ experts to examine safety issues relating to the crash of a 737 aircraft in Chuuk lagoon, Micronesia, last October, killing one passenger and seriously injuring 6 others.

The airline’s managing director Alan Milne, a former Qantas executive, has told Reuters news agency that the pilots involved were not currently flying but remain employed at least until an investigation is complete.

"Was it a criminal act? No,” Mr Milne said. “Was it an intentional act? No.

“Was there gross negligence? That is what we've got to answer.

“That is the bit we are doing at the moment."

Continue reading "Air Niugini looks at ‘gross negligence’ as cause of Chuuk crash" »

‘Too low! Too low!’ Pilot error blamed for Air Niugini jet ditching

Weno Island air crash
Air Niugini Boeing 737-800  sinks in the lagoon at Weno Island (AFP - Zach Niezgodski)


PORT MORESBY – An official crash investigation has found that pilot error led to an aircraft ditching, forcing passengers and crew to swim for their lives at Weno Island in Micronesia last year.

One man died and nine other passengers were injured when the Air Niugini Boeing 737-800 attempted to land, but ended up skimming into a lagoon before sinking.

A Papua New Guinea Accident Investigation Commission report into the 28 September crash found the pilot and co-pilot ignored numerous automated warnings while approaching the runway.

It said the pair missed ‘pull up’ warning lights and continued the landing attempt at Chuuk International Airport, even after bad weather made them lose sight of the runway.

"Both pilots were fixated on cues associated with control inputs for the landing approach, and subsequently were not situationally aware," chief commissioner Hubert Namani said.

Continue reading "‘Too low! Too low!’ Pilot error blamed for Air Niugini jet ditching" »

The Gooney Bird lives on, with a bright new body


TUMBY BAY - For those of us who were in Papua New Guinea before and just after independence in 1975, the old Douglas DC3 was a familiar sight at every major and many minor airports.

First built in 1935 the DC3 became the workhorse of the golden age of aviation.

During World War II the military version, called the Dakota by the British and affectionately known as the Gooney Bird by the Americans, operated everywhere in PNG.

After the war both Ansett ANA and TAA flew DC3s. So did Air Niugini when it took over from TAA in 1973. They were noisy and basic but very reliable.

Continue reading "The Gooney Bird lives on, with a bright new body" »

Air Niugini eyes axed Cathay Pacific Cairns – Hong Kong route

Air_NiuginiANDREW CURRAN | Simple Flying | Edited

CAIRNS - Air Niugini is ready and willing to take over the Cairns – Hong Kong route according to a report in the Cairns Post.

Air Niugini’s managing director Alan Milne, who has been in Cairns discussing the option, said Air Niugini saw opportunities on the route and had the capacity to service it.

It’s a surprise move by the small airline from Papua New Guinea. To the dismay of many Cairns residents, Cathay Pacific is discontinuing its Cairns service in October after 25 years servicing the route.

International services into Cairns have been in decline for some years. But Air Niugini has been a Cairns stalwart, the north Queensland city long being a popular getaway spot for expats and mobile locals in Port Moresby.

Continue reading "Air Niugini eyes axed Cathay Pacific Cairns – Hong Kong route" »

PNG & the unsolved mystery of Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart posing by her plane in Long Beach  California  1930
Amelia Earhart posing by her plane in Long Beach, California, 1930


PORT MORESBY - While experts have done a tremendous job trying to determine what led to the disappearance of Amelia Earhart, the world’s most celebrated female aviator, there are people in the Pacific Islands who have their own ideas about what happened after her last port of call in Lae, Papua New Guinea.

From 1937 until now, aviation investigators have failed to establish any leads in the search for Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan.

But the mystery continues to engage attention. Many people have invested much time and money in seeking to solve this enigma.

In the 1930s, Earhart was nothing short of a legend. She put herself into the history books as the first woman to fly solo over the Atlantic, the first woman to fly solo non-stop across the United States and the first person to fly the hazardous route between Hawaii and California.

Continue reading "PNG & the unsolved mystery of Amelia Earhart" »

'Husat i dai pinis' - The case of the coffin in transit

Guari strip
Typical PNG bush airstrip at Guari in Central Province (Matt McLaughlin)


MELBOURNE - For all of us who were kiaps, life brought us a range of experiences, some serious, some tragic, some mundane and others that were extremely humorous.

I was always mindful that if I ever lost my sense of humour it was time to resign.

In this vein I recall an incident when I was a young Cadet Patrol Officer at Kabwum and was despatched on patrol.

I was flown to the remote airstrip at Indagen and, on completion of the patrol, collected by aircraft at a pre-arranged date and time from the same strip.

Came the day, I was back at the airstrip with my collection of patrol equipment, boxes, chair, table, lantern, the works, all neatly stacked on the hard-standing area.

After what seemed like hours, I heard an aircraft in the distance.  It circled and came into land.

Continue reading "'Husat i dai pinis' - The case of the coffin in transit" »

The pink aeroplane, government paperwork & PNG airstrips

Ian Rowles poses near one of his later aircraft, also a Cessna 185, at Lae airport in 1974


GOLD COAST - How do write about someone who died a long time ago and yet who is still so alive in one’s memory? Start at the beginning I suppose.

In 1969, as a liklik kiap (Cadet Patrol Officer) at Pindiu Patrol Post on the Huon Peninsula, I distinctly recall the arrival on the airstrip of a bright pink Cessna 185. “Who the hell is that,” I asked the OIC?

“That’s Rowlesy,” I was told. “They call his plane the Pink Panther.

Ii was easy to see why. The aircraft had been painted a cheerful candy pink. It stood out like the proverbial country pink-painted dunny.

Continue reading "The pink aeroplane, government paperwork & PNG airstrips" »

Remembering the search for the missing RAAF Caribou

Iroquois on makeshift helipad
Iroquois helicopter on makeshift helipad near site of the downed Caribou (Ian Loftus)


GOLD COAST – It was August 1972 and I was returning from a patrol through the Yamap-Hotte-Musim census division between Wau/Bulolo and Salamaua.

We had left the forest behind and walked through the kunai for number of hours before arriving at Salamaua. Crikey it was hot!

I arrived at a Lutheran Mission guest house overlooking Salamaua and was given some cool lemon sherbet by the mission people who were holidaying there. I was dehydrated and couldn’t get enough of it.

Camping overnight in the Namasu store that night, we waited for a boat to take us to Lae. I tried to sleep among the bags of copra and hoped the rats that leapt between the bags all night wouldn’t bite me. There was also a pungent odour emitting from rancid coconuts that made it very pleasant to get going in the morning.

The coastal boat arrived on schedule and we boarded and set out for Lae. Arriving at Lae wharf, I telephoned the sub district office and the assistant district commissioner allocated a Toyota and driver to get us back to Wau the next day.

Driving through the Mumeng sub district, we noticed aircraft lights towards Bulolo and by the time we drove past the Bulolo road it looked like every aircraft in PNG was flying around Wau. The afternoon sky was lit up with flashing aircraft navigation lights.

Continue reading "Remembering the search for the missing RAAF Caribou" »

Report says Air Niugini crash ‘an accident’ but no cause yet

Air Niugini crash schematic
Illustration of the Air Niugini flight crash site in Chuuk Lagoon. CVR = cockpit voice recorder (FSM Civil Aviation)

KEVIN KERRIGAN | The Guam Daily Post

TAMUNING - The Air Niugini flight that crashed on approach to the Chuuk International Airport on 28 September fell 1,500 feet short of the runway, a preliminary report states.

When the Boeing 737 hit the water, the main landing gear was torn off and the rear fuselage behind the wing "fractured during the impact sequence," the report states.

The report was compiled by the Federated States of Micronesia Division of Civil Aviation with the assistance of the Papua New Guinea Accident Investigation Commission, and the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board.

They classified the crash as "an accident," however their preliminary report reaches no conclusions about the cause.

Continue reading "Report says Air Niugini crash ‘an accident’ but no cause yet" »

‘The most rewarding flying in PNG’: Diary of a medevac

Loading the injured woman into the plane at Simogu (Dave Rogers)
Loading the injured woman into the plane at Simogu (Dave Rogers)


GOROKA –Of all the flying I do in Papua New Guinea, I find medevac flights the most rewarding.

MAF flights benefit the communities we serve in many ways, but nothing has a more immediate and tangible impact than a medevac.

They are usually some of the most operationally difficult flights to manage given they come up at short notice, in the middle of our flying program, and often late in the day when weather or daylight is an issue.

This makes it all the more rewarding when you get it to work.

My most recent case was no different.

I was making my first stop on my second trip in the middle of a busy day when I was approached by a man asking if I could fly a badly injured woman to Goroka.

Continue reading "‘The most rewarding flying in PNG’: Diary of a medevac" »

A long day's flying around some of PNG's backblocks

Siobhain and Ryan Cole and the beloved GA8 Airvan - keeping the people of PNG connected

SIOBHAIN COLE | MAF Papua New Guinea

Being a Missionary Aviation Fellowship pilot family based at a remote outstation like Telefomin or Rumginae includes aircraft maintenance and grocery shopping trips for the family every third month to MAF’s main base at Mt Hagen. After coming back as a married couple from an extended time of leave and home assignment, Siobhain Cole traded her role as MAF PNG’s ground operations manager to being a pilot’s wife at an outstation.

She still does operations project work and flight bookings for the department she previously led, but she also has to look after the wellbeing of her pilot husband, Ryan, who flies the Twin Otter as a first officer and also the single crew GA8 Airvan, both out of Telefomin where they are one of three pilot families.

In the past, Siobhain orchestrated other pilot families’ schedules to come and go out of Mt Hagen for shopping and aircraft maintenance trips. Now she is experiencing the joys and challenges of such trips, like unexpectedly getting stuck in Mt Hagen for an extra night or two and not necessarily getting home in one go. Here she shares some of her experiences of a recent trip to Mt Hagen and back home to Telefomin, a good 90 minutes flight away, close to the western border of PNG.

Continue reading "A long day's flying around some of PNG's backblocks" »

Sir Reginald Barnewall, aviator & businessman, dies at 93

Sir Reginald and Lady Maureen Barnewall in 2008ROB PARER

BRISBANE - Sir Reginald Barnewall, a descendant of Anglo-Norman knights and the founder of Polynesian Airlines, has died at the age of 93.

Sir Reginald, pictured here with his wife Maureen in 2008, served in Papua New Guinea during World War II as a lieutenant with the Royal Australian Engineers and Z Special Unit AIF. He lived at Mt Tamborine in Queensland.

He was in Aitape with the Army engineers in 1944 and after the war flew around many parts of PNG with Mandated Airlines. He had first met the Parer family, pioneering PNG aviators, in the 1930s.

Sir Reginald had been well and attended recent Anzac ceremonies in Brisbane.

Son of a wealthy Victorian grazier, he founded Goulburn Valley Air Services (later Southern Airlines Ltd) in 1954.The airline serviced Victoria and Tasmania including King and Flinders islands.

Continue reading "Sir Reginald Barnewall, aviator & businessman, dies at 93" »

MAF makes largest purchase of aircraft to serve bush strips

STAFF REPORTER | Aviation Week 

Cessna Caravan 208 turboprop
The Cessna Caravan 208 turborpop has become the backbone of MAF's bush flying operation in PNG

NEW YORK - Mission Aviation Fellowship International recently placed an order for five Cessna Caravan 208 turboprops for its operations in Papua New Guinea, with the option for an additional two aircraft.

The order represented MAF International's single largest aircraft investment and the five aircraft are scheduled to be delivered this year and create an all-Caravan fleet in the country.

MAF has been serving the most isolated communities in PNG since 1951. It enables thousands of aid workers, development specialists, mission workers, doctors and nurses, teachers and water engineers to deliver food, medical supplies and relief, water and education.

During the last decade MAF has slowly been expanding its three-Caravan operation so the aircraft are now flown into 95% of the more than 230 remote bush airstrips.

Continue reading "MAF makes largest purchase of aircraft to serve bush strips" »

Bush pilot in PNG: ‘In the job I’m a pilot not a woman’

LandingGLENYS WATSON as told to Harriet Fitch Little | Financial Times

LONDON - For 10 years, until summer 2017, I was at home with my kids in Hamilton, New Zealand — I’ve got four daughters who are 10, eight, six and three now.

Six years ago, my dad passed away from cancer when he was only 59. That made my husband and I do quite a lot of reflecting on the fact the time we have on Earth is pretty short; we have to make sure that what we’re doing is fulfilling, and that it counts.

Before having children I had worked as a flight instructor, and carried out an air ambulance service for the local district health board. I’d heard about the Mission Aviation Fellowship when I was doing my pilot training and thought it sounded really cool.

Continue reading "Bush pilot in PNG: ‘In the job I’m a pilot not a woman’" »

Captain Beverly is PNG's first woman to captain jet aircraft

Captain Beverly Pakii & crew
Captain Beverley Pakii (right) and crew ready for her first scheduled jet flight

KEITH JACKSON | Air Niugini Media Release

PORT MORESBY - Captain Beverly Pakii has become the first female pilot in Papua New Guinea to captain a jet aircraft after attaining her command on an Air Niugini Fokker.

This achievement enables Captain Pakii to command domestic and international flights operated by Fokker 70 and Fokker 100 aircraft.

Her first commercial flight was on 4 January captaining a Fokker 100 aircraft from Port Moresby to Lae and back with First Officer Taylor Yama.

Captain Pakii, from Enga-Morobe parentage, in 2004 became the first female pilot to be sponsored into Air Niugini’s pilot cadet program, in 2015 becoming the first female pilot under the program to command Dash 8 aircraft.

She acknowledged the investment that Air Niugini had made in her career and gaver an encouraging message to fellow female pilots and aspiring female pilots.

Continue reading "Captain Beverly is PNG's first woman to captain jet aircraft" »

When PNG led the world in the delivery of air freight


Junkers aircraft serviced the Lae- Bulolo route
A photo of a German Junkers aircraft that serviced the Lae-Bulolo route in the 1930s

BRISBANE – Way back in 1931, Papua New Guinea set a world record in the amount of air cargo carried – 2,607 passengers and 3,947 tonnes of freight.

The discovery of gold in the Bulolo Valley of New Guinea saw a rush of aircraft and pilots to Lae to service the goldfields – equipment and supplies in, gold out and passengers both ways.

Supplies, which had previously been carried in by carriers at prohibitive cost, were now transported by aircraft.

In the first 12 months of operations they carried 250,000kg of cargo and hundreds of passengers, but this paled into insignificance when German Junkers transports were purchased by mining companies to transport dredges.

Continue reading "When PNG led the world in the delivery of air freight" »

Remembering this week: the RAAF’s worst peacetime air disaster

Caribou-Crash-Site-1972IAN LOFTUS | Ian Loftus History & Travel Blog

PERTH - This week marks the 45th anniversary of the RAAF’s worst peacetime air disaster, the crash of a Caribou transport aircraft from 38 Squadron in Papua New Guinea’s Morobe province on 28 August 1972.

With 29 on board (three RAAF crew and 26 passengers) the aircraft disappeared en-route from Lae to Port Moresby. Only four of those on board survived, all cadets.

Most of the passengers were PNG high school cadets from the 35th Cadet Battalion returning home from their annual cadet camp in Lae. They were accompanied by an Australian Army officer and a cadet officer, also from Australia.

Despite an intensive search by RAAF, Army and civilian aircraft, the Caribou remain undiscovered for several days due to its remote location and extensive tree canopy.

A searching Army Sioux helicopter located several survivors who had walked from the crash site. RAAF Iroquois were called, and the survivors were able to lead crew to the crash site, which was near the crest of a ridge.

Continue reading "Remembering this week: the RAAF’s worst peacetime air disaster" »

Tales from the kiap times - Sewing up a DC3

Qantas DC3, PNG, 1950sBOB CLELAND

“JULIE, have you got a curved needle and some strong thread?” I asked.

“I think so, I’ll look. Why do you want it?”

“Because I want to sew up a DC3.”

“Oh…. You want to do what?”

While Julie rummaged in her sewing kit, I quickly told her the story.

“There. Will that do?” I wasn’t surprised that she found a needle, living on an outstation, Julie had just about everything associated with sewing.

It was 1959 and Julie and I lived in Balimo, a remote government post about 500 kilometres west of Port Moresby.

Continue reading "Tales from the kiap times - Sewing up a DC3" »

Cairns business anger after Qantas dumps Moresby flights

Cairns airportCairns Post

CAIRNS businesses have lashed out at Qantas for abandoning direct Cairns-Papua New Guinea flights.

Qantas announced last month that, due to high demand for flights to Bali, it would be reducing its domestic flights in regional areas.

This includes shifting its Cairns-Port Moresby flights to Brisbane-Port Moresby from the end of October in order to better serve the business market.

Continue reading "Cairns business anger after Qantas dumps Moresby flights" »

The red hole of Ambullua airstrip – a story of self-reliance

Airstrip maintenance, Ambullua, Jimi Valley, circa 1974GARRY ROCHE

AMBULLUA is an isolated mission station in the upper Jimi valley in Jiwaka Province; about five hours walk from Kol, the nearest government station.  

And if you want to walk down to the Wahgi Valley from Ambullua, you should allow yourself two days.

Because of this isolation, the Catholic priest who established the mission at Ambullua, Fr Joe McDermott, built and maintained a bush airstrip.

The approach to the strip was not great, pilots had to manoeuvre their aircraft with skill to touch down safely on the not-too-long and uphill runway where, like many of PNG’s airstrips, they could only land from one direction.

Continue reading "The red hole of Ambullua airstrip – a story of self-reliance" »

The story how Aitape War Museum lost aircraft worth millions

B25 Mitchell Bomber 'Feather Merchant' at Aitape High SchoolROB PARER

OVER many years, American billionaire David Tallichet (1922-2007) was interested in the World War II aircraft left behind in the Sepik.

Tallichet, who made his fortune as ‘the father of the themed restaurant’, had piloted bombers over Europe in World War II and his post-war hobby was in restoring some of these aircraft.

He corresponded with me on a number of occasions and, coming from a family of aviators myself, I was always eager to help where I could.

There were other guys like him in the 1970s, such as John White from the Australian War Memorial who when in Aitape loved talking to Rev Fr Urban Reid, who as Flying Officer Danny Reid DFC was the only Allied pilot to shoot down of one of the Luftwaffe’s rarest aircraft, an Arado AR-234 jet.

Continue reading "The story how Aitape War Museum lost aircraft worth millions" »

Balus i kam: The joys & hazards of PNG aviation

Cessna 206 landing at Afore Patrol Post, c 1972CHRIS OVERLAND

DEPENDING upon whom you choose to believe, the first flight by a powered aircraft in Australia took place either in Sydney during 1909 or in Melbourne on 18 March 1910, when the famous escape artist, Harry Houdini, deftly flew his French made Voisin biplane around the appropriately named Digger's Rest.

At the time, flying was regarded largely as a novelty because almost no-one could foresee just how the flimsy, unstable and often lethally dangerous aircraft of that era could be used for any commercial purpose.

Dangerous and impracticable as it seemed, aviation progressed rapidly, especially during the First World War, which saw huge advances in the speed, power and endurance of aircraft.

Continue reading "Balus i kam: The joys & hazards of PNG aviation" »

Our grand adventure was to fly over those mountains

Junker tri-motor at WauDANIEL KUMBON

MY dream of soaring into the blue skies of Kandep in the belly of an aeroplane began with the recruitment of young men straight from the village to work on rubber, copra and cocoa plantations on the coast.

How I wished to look down upon the two great swamplands of Kandep with their many lakes and rivers teeming with wildlife, then disappear over the mountains to distant places.

I am sure, had I been old enough, I would have allowed myself to be recruited under the indentured labour scheme that operated during the colonial period.

Continue reading "Our grand adventure was to fly over those mountains" »

Civil aviation readies itself for a big shake-up in PNG


THE aviation sector in Papua New Guinea is set for a major shake-up, with government plans to privatise a stake in the national flag carrier, Air Niugini, later this year.

This should support Port Moresby’s growing role as a regional air traffic hub, as new routes are added and more airlines extend services to the capital.

Last September the government announced it would offer a stake of around 50% in Air Niugini to private investors, a plan confirmed earlier this year by prime minister Peter O'Neill, who said the sale would begin towards the end of 2015.

Continue reading "Civil aviation readies itself for a big shake-up in PNG" »

Captain Beverly Pakii achieves command

Beverly Pakii is handed her captain's insigniaPNG TODAY

A young, Papua New Guinean female pilot has made history by becoming the first woman to gain command on Dash 8 aircraft under Air Niugini’s pilot cadet program.

Captain Beverly Pakii’s achievement is the first for the airline since Air Niugini’s pilot cadet program started in the 1970s.

From mixed Enga and Morobe parentage, the 29 year old operated her first commercial flight from Port Moresby to Lihir in New Ireland and on to Tokua airport in East New Britain and back to Port Moresby.

Air Niugini CEO Simon Foo congratulated Captain Pakii saying the airline invests a lot of money and resources into training pilots and engineers every year.

“Captain Pakii has come through the system holding a very high standard throughout,” Mr Foo said. “Her dedication, commitment and humble demeanour to achieve command is demonstrated in her professional conducts in all facets.

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Dropping from the heavens: Resupplying the patrol


BACK in my kiap days it was quite common in the more remote districts for long patrols to be resupplied by airdrop. I have been on both the dropping and receiving sides of such operations.

The supplies most commonly dropped were food, usually rice and tinned fish or meat. At other times it might have been medical supplies like penicillin or specialist articles such as radio batteries and ammunition.

To get the food ready for a drop required opening the rice bags, which weighed around 20 kilograms each, and distributing half a dozen tins among the grains of rice. The bag was then tied shut before being placed in another bag, which was also tied shut but with room for movement.

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The young man who just wanted to fly faces another challenge

Richard (Dick) BroomheadKEITH JACKSON

Living on the Edge of the Universe: Paradise can be Hell! by Richard Broomhead, Joshua Books, 256 pp, $29.95, ISBN: 978-0992300142. Also available from Amazon here as an e-book

THE last time I sat down and had a beer with Richard Broomhead was 50 years ago and he was flying nothing bigger than a LandRover.

But he told me then, as he had before whenever we met, that his heart was set on buying a DH84, a twin-engined biplane, at which time he would establish a charter airline business based in Kundiawa.

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PNG aviation’s first woman owner looks to expand her fleet

Niugini Aviation Pacific Aerospace 750XL P2-RNBPACNEWS

AMONG women entrepreneurs from around the Pacific region who met in Fiji last week was business woman Ruth Undi from Papua New Guinea’s resource rich area of Ialibu in the Southern Highlands.

Ruth, 42 likes to call herself a ‘grassroots’ mother and she is the first Papua New Guinean woman to own and operate an aviation company, Niugini Aviation, which has a fleet of three planes.

With no aviation background, Ruth bought her first plane in 2011 because she saw the need to service the remote areas not accessible by road.

“That’s when I bought my first 206 six seater aircraft from the Seventh Day Adventist Church.

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Dreams of my childhood: To fly like a bird


WHEN I was about eight, nine and ten years old in the early 1990s, mum taught at Lumi Community School.

The school catered to children of public servants at Lumi station and children from villages surrounding the station.

Back then, Lumi was a fully-fledged district of West Sepik Province. It is now just a sub district, Aitape being the headquarters of the restructured Aitape-Lumi District.

So it was that our home was right at the station, the centrepiece of which was the Lumi airstrip. The airstrip ran right through the middle of Lumi station, with houses on either side.

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Pioneering family: The story of the audacious Parers of New Guinea

Kevin Parer in New Guinea, 1936MARY MENNIS MBE

THE Parer family, originally from Alella in Spain, were the anchor of the Catalan community in Australia for 50 years.

The first brother to leave Spain was Josep, who decided to migrate to South America in 1851, following his sense of adventure and eye for business. He left Montevideo in Uruguay on board the Alabama and landed in Australia in 1855.

A year later, his half-brother Francisco joined him and they started breeding poultry in Petersham near Sydney, but the business was not successful. They decided to move to Bendigo looking for gold and finally settled on the banks of the Yarra River, a tent town to cope with the rapid expansion of Melbourne during the gold rush.

It was their entrepreneurial character and perseverance, and also a spark of luck, which triggered the start of the Parer Empire in Melbourne. In less than 40 years they invested in more than 30 hotels and restaurants. And they are believed to be the first people to commercialise meat pies in Australia.

Josep and Francisco were the pioneers of the Parer dynasty in Australia. Seven of their brothers and sisters, nephews and friends of the family joined them, which is where the family tree gets complicated.

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In the jump seat. Flying APNG's Dash-8-100 to Goroka

Final approach into Goroka (Bernie Leighton )BERNIE LEIGHTON | Airline Reporter

I HAVE now flown Air Niugini (airline code PX) more than most Americans ever will. The thing is no one I knew remotely well enough at the time worked for Air Niugini, which is rare for me.

However, I did know plenty of people who work for their fiercest competitor –Airlines PNG (code CG). Clearly I needed to take a flight.

After a week of in-country planning, I had selected a destination – Goroka, a small town in the highlands of central PNG. It is one of the highest airports in the country at 5,200 feet. It was also a reasonable airfare and crewed by people who were extremely friendly to an American journalist.

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New Ireland & New Britain on an Air Niugini Q400

BERNIE LEIGHTON | Airline Reporter

P2-PXS at Jacksons Airport (Bernie Leighton)WHILE Port Moresby may not be a holiday treat, it is certainly better than it has ever been since independence. But if you want a tropical holiday, you are going to have to leave the ravenous guard dogs and car jackings of Moresby behind.

Being a huge World War II nerd, I figured my best bet was to head out to either Kavieng (on New Ireland) or Kokopo/Rabaul on New Britain). Both these islands were invaded by the Japanese in 1942, shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

But first I have to tell you about the fun one can have at the domestic terminal of Jacksons International Airport.

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Flight to Port Moresby - A review of Air Niugini

BERNIE LEIGHTON | Airline Reporter

An Air Niugini 767 at Brisbane Airport (Leighton)SO, YOU’RE dumb enough to decide you want to go to Port Moresby on holiday? Well, first off, you are pretty dumb. Do you know how dangerous Port Moresby is?

The American government clearly knows; they’re building a new fortress-embassy on the highway to the airport. This embassy construction site also houses all its workers behind three 20-foot high fences and a small contingent of Marines.

Having said that, it is still safer than Lae! So, if you have to pick between the two…

It’s not an organised sort of crime, or resistance. It’s something more like a zombie movie. One target sees an opportunity and then, almost like a wave, the rest follows. From what I’ve seen, cricket bats are a popular weapon of late.

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The search for fallen airmen in Papua New Guinea continues


The Grey Ghost B-17 wreckTHE  US NAVAL RESEARCH LABORATORY (NRL) will lead a team of scientists and engineers to fly a Multi-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar (MB-SAR) to gather information to aid in the search and recovery of unaccounted aircraft losses in Papua New Guinea during World War II.

The US Pacific Command and Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) is sponsoring the mission.

It is believed many of the downed aircraft sites are located in the Northern, Central, and Morobe Provinces in austere terrain under triple canopy foliage. The goal of the mission is to highlight the effectiveness of remote sensing information to aid JPAC search and recovery efforts.

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