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
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!