On June 15th a CASA Testing team tested our internet speed. We found out that our WIFI speed was better than the Ethernet cable’s speed because all of the four cables in the ATC rooms were connected to only a 5-port 10/100 Megabytes per second switch. Therefore it was decided that it would be better if the cables were connected to a Gigabyte switch.

Michael Gena, our IT Support Officer gives some more details:

I was then asked to change the old Category 5 cables to the newer Category 6 cables, as well as to replace the Megabyte switch with a Gigabyte switch so that it would provide more speed/bandwidth and accommodate more traffic loads.

I ran six sets of twenty five metre-long CAT6 network cables from our IT office to the ATC rooms, which required me going inside the hot ceiling. It was a couple of tough days for me as I had to crawl around on my knees all the way back and forth.

This job is expected to finish during the time Nigel Gorry (MAFI IT Systems Manager) is in PNG, as he brought the supplies I need. He will then do some configurations so that the ATC rooms will have better internet speed before Sept. 11th when the first electronic CASA exams will be launched.

MAF PNG Facebook followers gave us their captions for this picture of Michael Gena in the IT Office:

 

James M Kendall: Head in the clouds!

Tuges George: Now, where has that silly cable gone to?!

Siobhain Cole: Yes Doug, I will go and switch off Facebook access for all the HQ staff right away…

Ruth Mashiter: Did you switch it off and switch it on again?

Glenda Giles: Hi up there, Michael! Just borrowing the ladder for a few minutes. Hang in there. C ya soon!

Adam Pope: That’s not what uploading means Michael!

Doug Renouf: Rising to a new location!

Emma McGeorge: Searching for The Internet in faith that it actually exists…

Impressions from P2-MFB’s last operational day flying in the Marawaka Valley for MAF

I had the privilege of going on a MAF flight on Thursday, 24th August 2017 in the Marawaka Valley. What made this flight particularly significant, was that it was the last flight on the Twin Otter P2-MFB for MAF before this aircraft is leased elsewhere.

The pilots on this flight were Holger Lasi and Mathias Glass. From the outset, I was impressed by their kindness to everyone they came into contact with, their efficiency and thoroughness, their ability to multi-task and be flexible on the spot, and their strength to help people on and off the plane and to load the plane with produce, supplies and goods. Encompassing all this are their phenomenal flying skills.

The plane itself is an incredible piece of engineering. This was evident to me as we flew over rugged landscape and soaring mountains, and then landed on a variety of airstrips mowed into the most level area of a mountain-side. Take offs and landings in the Marawaka Valley are short and steep, ranging from a 485m long air strip at Ande, to a 560m strip at Sindeni. The steepest airstrip was at Andakombi which has a 9.1% slope. This resulted in the pilots executing a very quick and precise take off and landing.

In each village, MAF dropped people and supplies off, and picked up other people and their supplies or produce. One of the most common types of produce is coffee, which people in the villages grow and harvest. They then bring their harvested beans to MAF planes to be transported to town to sell.

All people and items loaded onto the plane need to be weighed and distributed evenly to balance out the plane for effective take offs and landings. This requires the pilots to have attention to detail and to work out a lot of weights and amounts.

Pilots also need to account for the unexpected, as much as this is possible. A priority is a medevac, and in two of the three villages that P2-MFB flew into, there were three medevac cases – one child who had been badly burned, one young man with an unidentified illness which prevented him from walking or standing on his own, and one pregnant lady who had complications. All of these people needed to be accommodated on the flight in a timely manner. This plane was ideal to carry all the supplies and people for these particular areas of the valley, and be able to take off and land on such difficult airstrips – an amazing feat.

It is hard to encapsulate this experience in a few words, but I will attempt this and note that I came away from the trip with an impression of the following: compassion, multi-talented, flexible, patience, superior skill, care and hope. The verse that came to mind is Isaiah 40:29-31: ‘He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.’

Thank you MAF for allowing me to join this flight and for giving me a taste of the essential and valuable ministry MAF provides to people in Papua New Guinea.

Derene Els*

Auckland, New Zealand

* Derene Els is a friend of Michelle Venter, currently visiting the Venters in Goroka. Michelle writes: “Derene and I have known each other practically all our lives! Our real friendship started when we were in Grade 1 in South Africa and we have been friends ever since then. Her family immigrated to New Zealand after high school but we still kept in contact. Derene has a heart for people and missions and is one of our faithful supporters.“

 

In the last part of our 3-part Telefomin diary, Twin Otter pilot Richie Axon shares how God rearranged their flying day so MAF could help four patients to get the medical care they so desperately needed.

Once a week the Telefomin Twin Otter dedicates one full day to assist our MAF base at Tari. Leaving Telefomin in the morning the flight plan was for Richie and Brad to do a flight out of Tabubil, delivering some cargo to Oksapmin first, before heading to Tari. Richie shares how this day evolved:

 

Day 3: 4 in 1

After leaving Oksapmin we received word from our Flight Operations Coordinator, Sharlene Coker, via v2track, that there was election-related shooting and police activity at Tari, and so we were not to proceed there. We returned to Oksapmin, to the disappointment of our passengers. While heading back to Oksapmin, we heard on the HF radio from Telefomin base that there was a medevac from Yatoam and another from Agali.

Brad had been flying as Captain that day but, as he is not checked to Yatoam, after returning to Oksapmin we swapped seats. So I flew as Captain to Yatoam where we found there were actually two medevac patients to travel to Oksapmin: one man who appeared very anaemic and another man with a very large tropical ulcer on his shoulder which to me looked very painful.

Twin Otter P2-MFU at Yatoam

We returned to Oksapmin and dropped off the two patients and some other passengers, so that they could get treated at their Local Level Government station’s health facility.

Brad Venter, in charge of the paperwork for the day, talking to the MAF agent at Yatoam, while getting the body weight of the man who appeared very anaemic.

 

Brad gets the details for the second patient. The man with the tropical ulcer is not wearing a shirt, only a cloth over his head as a shirt probably would have been too painful on his skin.

This was how the cabin looked before take off at Yatoam. The man with the ulcer sits in row 3, the anaemic man in row 6. Two passengers who wanted to travel Tabubil-Tari are sitting in row 7. They went all the way around with the Twin Otter and back to Tabubil, and seemed to observe the morning’s rounds with interest.

At Oksapmin we picked up a man and his son with a referral to the Tabubil hospital. The boy had a urinary tract infection and his father was accompanying him to get it sorted out. They were short on payment by K100 which Brad made up from the MAF PNG medevac fund.

From Oksapmin we flew to Agali where we found a woman, Merike, who was pregnant and not looking well at all. The baby inside her needed to be delivered as soon as possible to save the mother’s life.

While in the air and on our way to Tabubil, we called ahead on the radio to ask Tracy Kiliwo, Tabubil Base Manager, to call the ambulance. We knew that Merike would not be able to walk to the hospital. 30 minutes later we landed at Tabubil.

Shortly after landing, Merike went into labour at the MAF Base. Tracy guided her into the shower room to wait for the ambulance to come and fetch her.

 

Tracey and the nursing officer pushing Merike from the MAF Base to eventually transfer her to the ambulance to get her to the hospital’s emergency ward.

“I was with her in the shower room“, continues Tracey, “and Merike said she could feel the baby coming. So I quickly went to the office and called the Accidents and Emergency Ward asking them for advice. They told me to tell Merike to just lay on her side and wait for the medical officers to come. To the relief of us all, after five minutes the ambulance arrived and the nursing officer assisted Merike. The nurse told me that Merike’s waters had broken and were contaminated. The baby’s head was in view. They managed to control the situation and rushed Merike to the hospital. I sent one medevac care bag with her. The next day Richie brought another medevac care bag down from Telefomin, so I took the bag to the hospital and visited Merike. I was told by her guardian that she had given birth to a stillborn baby boy, so unfortunately he did not survive. However, they could save the mother, Merike. I then went to the Accidents and Emergency ward and interviewed the Health Extension Officer involved. She told me that the baby had passed away due to the contaminated waters when Merike was in labour. Now, the mother is okay and already discharged from the hospital. She is staying with some family from Agali here in Tabubil. If MAF had not done the medevac the mother, Merike, would have also passed away. Thank God, we could at least save one life.“

“God rearranged our day so we could help these four patients“, Richie summarises this day’s experience. “We would not have been able to help any of them if we had flown to Tari and proceeded with our normal programme. The change of route because of the fighting at Tari turned into a blessing for these patients. We used one of the latest technical upgrades in the cockpit, the v2track App on the iPad-EFBs (Electronic Flight Bags), to send and receive messages. This also was a real benefit and blessing as the HF radio, which is normally used to communicate with ground staff, was very bad that day.“

 

v2track tracking devices use local cellular data and the international Iridium satellite networks to provide efficient worldwide coverage.

MAF PNG uses them for flight-following, the transmission of destination and waypoint information and, in combination with the EFBs (Electronic Flight Bags), for advanced two-way messaging.

https://www.v2track.com

In Part 2 of our 3-part Telefomin diary you can join the Twin Otter P2-MFU, piloted by Brad Venter and Richie Axon, flying out of Telefomin. Brad, who also is MAF PNG’s Crew Training Manager, shares some snapshots from a typical day flying out of Telefomin. According to Brad this was „basically a pretty average/normal day!“

 

7:11am at Telefomin

The pilot carries out the daily check of the aircraft and, together with the Telefomin base staff, prepares the Twin Otter for the day’s flight, getting weather reports, filing a flight plan, writing tickets for the passengers and weighing them and their cargo, then finally loading the aircraft.

When all is ready to go, they take time to dedicate the day’s flights to the Lord in prayer.

 

Dugutrah, the sick girl, and her father Nelson in the Twin Otter

 

Every available seat was occupied on the flight from Telefomin to Tabubil

8:18 Take off at Telefomin

On board are 19 passengers, one of them the injured girl, Dugutrah, who Brad and Richie picked up in Eliptamin the week before. The Telefomin hospital were transferring her to Tabubil

because they couldn’t treat her properly. Her parents of course accompanied her. .

Also on board are two more patients with referrals to Tabubil hospital for further treatment. One of them is a very ill young man who was not able to get well after taking medicine for almost two months. His stomach became enlarged and Telefomin Hospital decided to send him down for further scanning in Tabubil. [He is still at the hospital]. Another man had a problem with his left leg.

His muscles were unable to stretch and were locked up at the back of his knee. [At Tabubil Hospital they sucked the liquid out of his leg and he was able to stretch his leg again. He and his wife returned home to Telefomin the next day].

 

8:41 Landing at Tabubil

The Telefomin passengers disembark the plane and the Tabubil base team helps to unload the aircraft.

Dugutrah is lifted onto one of our cargo trolleys while the ambulance first drops off a casket with a body for the next flight to Golgobip, before loading her into the ambulance and taking her to the hospital.

 

Dugutrah is transferred to the ambulance

9:16 Take-off at Tabubil

Often air travel is the only practical and timely means of transport to get a casket with a body to where the deceased will find its earthly resting place. MAF provides an air service called a “body-charter” to bring a deceased member back to their community for their haus krai, a phrase in Tok Pisin which means “a gathering place to remember and mourn the loss of a loved one and friend”.

 

 

9:35 Landing at Golgubip

This is one of PNG’s most challenging airstrips, 470 m in length and with 8% slope. Rising terrain causes a strong visual illusion of being too high on approach. Accompanying the body were 12 adults and 2 children with about 300kg additional cargo.

 

 

9:54 Take off at Golgubip

On the return journey of this body charter were 21 passengers heading to Tabubil: 13 adults, 6 children and 2 infants.

 

 

10:09 Landing at Tabubil

Now it’s time to get some more fuel. JetA1 fuel is provided by the Tabubil airport through Puma Energy, and their fuel tractor makes things very convenient for the pilots.

 

Re-fueling at Tabubil airport

 

Happy passengers ready for their flight to Tekin. MAF Tabubil base staff, Starford Sabalok, giving the passenger briefing

10:45 Take off at Tabubil

This flight to Tekin was a service run with passengers and their cargo. However, there is no take-off with passengers on board without a thorough passenger briefing! This is usually done by our base staff when departing from one of our staffed MAF bases. And it is done in Tok Pisin:

 

Gut moning olgeta. Mipela go long Tekin tude.

Yupela mas pasim sitbelt long taim balus i stap antap. Yu no ken lusim sitbelt taim balus i stap antap. Taim mipela pundaun long Tekin na ensin i stop krai yupela ken rausim sitbelt.

Yu no ken smuk, yu no ken kaikai buai na yu no ken dring bia.

Flait taim i go long Tekin em i 20 minit.

Sapos yu pilim sik na yu laik traut, yusim dispela sikbek. Em wanpela blupela bek na insait yu painim waitpela plastik. Putim traut na olgeta pipia insait long waitpela plastic na holim strong.

Sapos balus i bungim taim nogut na paia i kamap, marasin bilong kilim paia i stap long graun namel long pailot sia. First aid bokis na survival kit i stap long baksait tru.

Long lusim kabin yupela ken yusim tupela dua long baksait. Liftim retpela kapa, tanim handel na opim dua. Yupela ken usim tupela narapela dua long ranawe long tupela sait long balus. Rausim plastic, pulim handel na dua kam op. Narapela tupela dua long ranawe i stap long kokpit.

Em tasol. Kisim gutpela flait. 

 

11:18 Landing at Tekin

The Tekin airstrip is 530 m long, has an average slope of 9%, and is categorised as a Class D airstrip, meaning it’s a challenging landing.

 

 

Parking bay at Tekin.

 

11:38 Take off at Tekin

In Tekin, the Twin Otter picks up passengers to bring back to Tabubil. They were returning to Tabubil after going to Tekin to vote. It’s currently election time here in PNG!

 

Another plane load full of happy passengers. Every seat is occupied!

 

12:07 Landing at Tabubil

 

Again, re-fueling the Twin Otter at Tabubil while the Wewak based Cessna Caravan was also on the ground at Tabubil.

 

The passengers for Bak on their way to board the Twin Otter

12:39 Take off at Tabubil

This was also a passenger run like the Tekin run.

 

Again, thumbs up from the passengers flying from Tabubil to Bak. This time Tokas Arisep did the passenger briefing.

 

13:12 Landing at Bak

 

Bak airstrip viewed from the take-off position. Elevation 5050ft, 573 m length, 8% slope

 

The MAF Agent at Bak in discussion with Twin Otter Captain Richie Axon

13:38 Take off at Bak

At Bak, the Twin Otter also picks up passengers returning to Tabubil after voting in their home electorate.

 

The passengers from Bak on their flight to Tabubil

14:07 Landing at Tabubil

This is going to be the last re-fuel turn around for the day.

 

 

14:50 Take off at Tabubil

On board are some passengers and cargo for store owners for Telefomin.

 

 

15:20 Landing at Telefomin

While Brad finishes the day’s paper work, Richie is packing up the plane before they go home.

 

Lucy Sokol, Telefomin Base Manager, unloading the nose cargo compartment while the passengers disembark

 

Richie packing up the plane for the night: placing cushions into the turbine openings and securing the propeller

Some statistics:

Landings: 8

Flight time: 2.9 hrs

Distance flown: ~ 420nm (~ 780 km)

Passengers flown: 102 adults, 18 children, 9 infants, 1 body

Cargo flown: ~ 2,400 kg

A pretty normal day for Twin Otter P2-MFU flying out of Telefomin!