When Erwin Jungen was working at our Mt Hagen base as a casual traffic officer he had the chance to accompany a team to conduct some airstrip surveys. Erwin has been accepted at the MAF Mareeba Training Centre, Australia to train there as a pilot under the PNG pilot training scheme. Pandemic travel restrictions delayed him for the January intake this year. By working for MAF here at Mt Hagen he’s not only bridging the time until he can move to Mareeba, but he’s gaining valuable experiences about our operation and MAF’s ministry.

”Over the past few days, I was given the go-ahead to join the team of MAF and RAA (Rural Airstrip Agency) surveyors to survey closed rural airstrips.

It was an amazing experien- ce with a steep but valuable learning curve. Learning about the local radio callouts and the history behind the strips we were surveying was so inte- resting, with some airstrips ha- ving been built in the 60s and taking upwards of 16 years to finish!

Learning to use the technolo- gy, properly measure out the airstrips and have an awareness of hazards and potential risks that these locations provided was an exciting opportunity.

Irreplaceable experiences

 

Though the learning was inte- resting and help broaden my understanding the greatest parts of the surveying airstrips were the experiences. From shepherding cows off the runway and the ridiculous heat at Mamusi to the 13 degrees steep and 350m long runway at Mengamenau it was incre- dible looking at the lengths MAF in coordination with rural health care centres and com- munities go to in order to pro- vide a service.

That’s what it all comes down to. Not money, not how cool it is to fly in such beautiful and remote areas. It’s providing a service for the people of our country. To provide economical and financial doorways. To aid in medical treatment.

Meeting these communities was the most important thing for me, learning their history, their languages, their plights and their stories.

That is just irreplaceable.