Re-opening Miyanmin Airstrip
In order to serve the people of PNG safely, we regularly review the condition of the airstrips that we fly to. Most of the airstrips that we use have been built by the local communities by hand, in most cases using only shovels and wheelbarrows. Sometimes not even wheelbarrows.
The village of Miyanmin is one of the regular airstrips that we visit. Last year they were asked to do some re-construction on the airstrip due to soft spots on the grass runway. The problem was significant enough that we had to close their airstrip whilst the work was done. Because Miyanmin is a poor and isolated community with no road access, they are unable to hire equipment to be flown in and had to do all the work by hand. In the end they dug up 5,440 square meters of grass and dirt down to a depth of 40 cm and replaced it with stones and gravel, which they dug up from local streams. By hand. Using shovels and wheelbarrows. That is equivalent to about 3/4 of a UK football pitch or about 2/3 of a Canadian football field.
They completed the work last month, and we were able to fly in and assess their improved airstrip. Because Miyanmin is a very remote community, they are very grateful for the help and service that MAF brings. When we landed at the airstrip, the entire community was waiting for us and some of them were dressed in traditional costumes and performed a dance, a “sing-sing”. After we shut down the engine, those who were dressed for the sing-sing started dancing in a circle around the airplane singing and shouting for joy that God had brought MAF back to Miyanmin.
They were very happy to have us back because we are their only lifeline to the outside world. If someone needs a doctor, or food supplies, or a high school education, MAF is almost the only way. To get from Miyanmin to Telefomin, where there is a high school, small stores and nurses (no doctor), it is either a 10 min flight with MAF or a 2 day walk through the jungle up and over rugged mountains and across treacherous mountain rivers.
Thank you for your support that enables us to serve the people of Miyanmin and those like them.
Story by Ryan and Siobhain Cole, MAF family based at Telefomin
Photo: Capt. Markus is presented with a Bilum (String bag) to thank him and MAF for bringing the aircraft back