Where are you from and where do you live now?
I am from a small district called Pangia in the Southern Highlands, well it’s not so small anymore. The small village my dad is from is called Tengai. My mom is from Ialibu. In PNG culture you’re from where your dad is from. So, that’s where I’m from-from, but I was born in the Eastern Highlands, in Goroka. Though, for most of my life, I’ve lived in the National Capital District, in Port Moresby. Currently, I live in Mount Hagen.
Do you mind telling me a little about your family?
It’s a big family! I have seven siblings, five sisters and two brothers, all from the same parents. We come from a Christian family; both of my parents are elders in churches. I am the third born; there are two girls before me, two girls after me, then two boys, and then a girl. We’ve lived in Port Moresby all our lives, so they’re all down there and I’m the only ones who’s up here working at the moment.
When did you join MAF and why?
My recruitment started all the way back in 2017 when I came up here, to Mt. Hagen, to do my assessment. Then the whole recruitment process started – fundraising, Bible college, and three months of refresher flying in Mareeba. Then I did the GPSS exam – worst exam EVER! It’s a psychometric exam all pilots have to take and you have to pass to be recruited by MAF. Boy, I walked out of that feeling like I failed! I was like, “Ok, this is it. I’m done. I’m going to go join the army now.” But, thank God, I passed. So, I went back to Mareeba again to do my conversion onto the Caravan, which was a different sort of challenge because I was trying to keep up with Volker Jacobson .
But I managed to get passed that and I’ve been here in Mt. Hagen since March 2019.
So, what made you want to join MAF and go through ALL of that?
Toward the end of the flight training school, when you have to think about what job you want to do, I had a talk with Mom and Dad. Mom immediately told me to join MAF. Growing up in PNG, you always hear about MAF; you don’t really know what they do, but you have an idea.
In my family, my Mom and Dad believe in giving their first harvest to God. I was their first kid to go out and go through flight school, and I’m the firstborn son, so Mom was really adamant. I was happy to do it as well – give the first harvest to God – and I wanted to serve the people first too. So, I thought of either MAF or the army. I sent my papers everywhere to keep my options open, but MAF was the only positive feedback.
What is your role with MAF now?
I was training – I’m actually still in training – and had a flight test in March 2020. Unfortunately, I didn’t pass the test because there were lots of small, but important, things I still needed to work on. So, the plan was to do another two weeks of training and then I would go solo. But the Corona Virus happened and all my instructors had to go back to their own countries.
So, now I’m just here helping out at the base and doing airstrip surveys. MAF decided to bring back the position of Base Liaison Pilot and they put me in that position for Mt. Hagen. In this position, I keep good communication between the pilots and base staff so flights flow smoothly. If the pilots come back to Mt. Hagen for a turnaround I make sure the cargo is ready, the passengers are ready, and it’s just go, go, go! I’m still figuring this out as I go, but it’s been fun.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
In a way, this situation is good because if I just went flying, flying, flying I wouldn’t have time to develop other skills or interact with the ground staff and develop bonds with them like I’m doing. I know that in PNG relationships serve you well. I think everything happens for a reason.
But, if I was flying I would enjoy flying most.
What do you find most challenging about your role?
Right now, I would say it’s finding that neutral ground where I can manoeuvre without overheating. For example, I want to do well and impress my seniors, but I don’t want to push myself to the point where I’m mentally unstable.
What does MAF mean to you?
Standing outside, looking in, it’s an organisation that serves the country and helps local people. But when you join MAF, do the flying, and serve the people, you realise the impact we have.
Now I describe MAF to friends and family as selfless. The people who come and serve here – it’s crazy, the life they’ve left behind. MAF means a lot to me, actually; the organisation itself and the people. MAF has had a very big impact on my life. It’s family now.
How has Covid-19 affected you and your family?
I’m actually concerned about my smaller siblings’ school because Covid-19 has disrupted classes and the kids are losing interest. I try to encourage them to keep reading and do whatever work the teachers have given, but they’re teenagers. How can you control teenagers!? You can’t! So, that is the biggest concern because the two smaller ones have exams coming up.
And then it’s possible my dad, who’s flying for Air Niugini, might lose his job. That would have a major, major impact on the family because he’s the only bread winner, besides me. But God has been good, and he’s still flying, and none of us has gotten Corona. They’re safe and still happy and loud and noisy as usual. And school started back again so I’m happy the kids are back in school. I just hope they can cope and catch up and not get too frustrated.
What is something others might not know about you?
They don’t know because I don’t want to tell them! Ha!
I like doing Karaoke at 3 a.m., by myself, in my corridor, with my country music on. If it’s raining outside, even better! I just sing my head off! Who cares if it’s off-key!? It’s a stress reliever to sing with no care. Another thing I really like is going for a long car ride with my favourite music on singing my head off.
Do you have a favourite food?
Oh, I love food. But it would be rude to say I have a favourite. I will eat anything that’s put in front of me. Well, no that’s actually a lie.
I recently discovered something that got me excited. It’s the traditional mumu we do, but last time they marinated it with ginger, curry, garlic, sauce, and all the good stuff at 10pm and left it overnight. Then it went into the ground the next morning. When it came out of the ground…ahhh it was golden brown and so good! That got me excited.
A mumu is when we put the pig in the ground with hot stones. You dig up the ground, put the hot stones in, put all the food in, and cover it up. It’s like you’re making an oven in the ground and everything heats up and cooks.
Is there any advice you would give yourself at the start of your MAF career?
(Singing) Hold on, help is on the way!
I would say, don’t lose sight of why you joined. Yes, you want to serve the people, but you’re here because you’re serving God first. People are people; they’re fickle, they’ll let you down, and you know, they get annoying sometimes. So just keep in mind that you’re here to serve God and not people. And whatever you do, do it with all of your heart and to the best of your abilities. Otherwise, don’t do it at all.