In this story, Volkher Jacobsen, one of our training pilots who regularly comes from Mareeba, shares how the need of our MAF aircraft is so obvious out in remote communities, even more so when some airstrips don’t get regular service. Considering that MAF is serving more than 200 airstrips across mainland PNG with currently a total of 9 aircraft someone can understand that some places, especially those where travelling or shipping cargo is hard to afford for individuals or communities, only get to see a MAF aircraft very rarely or in emergencies only.
Landing on such a randomly served airstrip our pilot was confronted with a wall of people desperate for help. The attached story will give you more details…
Reflecting on his encounter the pilot said that this gave him some glimpses into what it must have been for Jesus coming to a new place where people knew that they could be helped by Him for their physical and spiritual needs.
As Jesus was confronted with a wall of the inform, broken, sick and unwell so are often our pilots.
Here’s Volkher’s story:
Early September, Flight Instructor Volkher Jacobsen from our Mareeba based Flight Training Centre was back in Papua New Guinea to continue training for our two low hour pathway pilots Joël Rominger and Joseph Tua in Western Province flying P2-MAL, back then the newest of our Cessna Caravans, C208.
On 12 September, Volkher’s second last training day before returning back to Australia, he was flying with Joël from Lake Murray to Kiunga/Rumginae, reporting to Flight service “POB 12,” meaning 12 person on board.
12 passengers? How can that be on an aircraft which only has … seats?
We had changed the programme to allow for this initially unplanned Kiunga – Lake Murray – Kiunga – Rumginae flight at the end of the day, a reaction to a medevac call for a woman with a retained placenta. We planned a dedicated flight and landed at Lake Murray empty. We expected to have only one patient to transport.
After shutting the engine down in the parking bay, and hopping out the cockpit to meet the MAF agent and the customers we just saw a “wall” of the sick, unwell and infirm plus their guardians slowly hobbling, shuffling, limping towards the aircraft. A few needed to be assisted walking as they were so week. In the distance, a large community, forty plus people or so, carrying a made shift (bamboo) stretcher, on it, the lady with the retained placenta.
She was very weak and mentally like in a fog, barely able to perceive what was happening to her. The only thing she seemed to be able to focus on was her tiny little baby in the baby-bilum. Her ‘was-mama’ (guardian) was a mother who had a newborn baby herself in a bilum. She only seemed to understand ‘tok ples’, so everything was translated to her; our passengers 1-4.
There was another woman with pregnancy complications and her guardian; our passengers 5+6.
Then, there was a middle aged man wrapped in a ‘lablab’, barely able to walk himself and assisted by his ‘was papa’. The man seemed to struggle with a catheter or artificial drain; our passengers 7+8
Then there was another ‘lapun’, who was on a drip which was held by his guardian; our passengers 9+10.
Glad we had the extra single seat on board!
The flight back to Kiunga saw us fly between 500 and 1000’ above ground level and we had to dodge and divert around thin but ling lines of the rain showers. At Kiunga, we refuelled and carried on to Rumginae with passengers 1-8.
On the ground at Rumginae, we were met by a dozen Rumginae hospital staff having three stretchers with them. The next set of professionals took over