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Flying in PNG

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New member
Jan 23, 2002
Hello everybody,

I am very interested in flying in Papua New Guinea, since I was
told, that they do hire low-time-pilots. It would be really nice to
get some real information, to get my ass back in the air.
Thank u all !!
My information will be a bit dated. I lived there ten years ago, mostly out of Rabaul, but also Port Moresby, Lae, and Madang. At the time, lower time pilots were hired, but there were really only two ways to get on with an operator.

One was to become involved with a missionary organization as MAF. MAF tended to use mostly Aussie and Kiwi pilots; I never met another US citizen there. The other method is to go sit in a bar at Port Moresby, at the airport, and wait to get hired.

PNG isn't some place you want to go to build time. It has some of the most challenging weather to be had, in some of the most primitive conditions you can imagine. In the highlands and over accross the border into Irian Jaya, headhunters still hunt heads and eat people. Over 800 different languages (not dialects,but languages) are spoken; villages only a few miles apart for centuries haven't been able to communicate. As a result, skirmishes and wars are common.

You'll live in a compound with double fences and concertina wire, and have your own gaurds. Many expats had gaurds with knife wounds all over their bodies, especially in Moresby. We didn't have nearly the problems in Rabaul that others had in Moresby and Lae, though I was trapped in Lae on the main island during some rioting.

I had my nose broken, and my back knocked out of line. I ended up deaf for a month, sick for two others. I spent a lot of time living on rice and raw fish (not bad, with pineapple, incidentally). Bat, or flying fox, is a delicacy. Fish are eaten whole, cooked or uncooked, guts and all. A lot of people don't wear clothes, have never seen a knife or fork, and are very comfortable watching you get killed.

I lived in a house that stillhad stains on the floor in the office where a previous occupant had been killed by "rascals," or local gang members. One evening my next door neighbor, an aussie expat, was killed by his houseboy. He came home and found his houseboy beating the mans' wife with a machete, very common there. He intervened, and sustained a neck wound. He was taken to Nonga Hospital, but bled out waiting for the doctor who refused to come out after hours. It's a different world.

There are few nav-aids, and the weather changes very fast. You fuel out of Jerry Cans through a chamois. Over gross only occurs when the gear fails. I have flown bush and backcountry operations in which the limits were liberally held, but still didn't hold a candle to the way it's done in PNG.

The only way you're going to get a job over there is to go there and start asking. It's a big risk. There are few rules, and you're protected by few of those. If you go down, don't count on anybody to come looking for you. There isn't anybody. There is a lot of fighting. The environment is challenging (just after I left, Mautipit Volcano, which was a dominating feature in Rabaul, exploded and took out the town and the island. I haven't been back since then.

The first thing you'll notice when you get off the airplane is the scent of body odor. Nobody bathes. Everyone chews Buai, which is a beetlenut mix with lime and sometimes lye, and other things. It rots out the mouths of those who use it, which is everyone. People spit it, drool it, everywhere. Sidewalks, where you can find them, are red. Those who drive spit it in the vehicle, on the windshield, everywhere. A lot of folks don't wear clothes.

At any rate, it really is a diferent place; very third world, and then some. If you do go, watch your back. Don't trust a soul, double check everything. Don't trust other pilots, don't trust your mechanic. Keep your eyes open and be ready for ANYTHING.

Good luck!!
Sounds dangerous...

Hey avbug !

Man, that sounds like a nightmare. Though it seems that flying jobs are found more easily in places like that. And I don't want to be jobless any longer.
So, regarding your obvious extensive aviation related experience in the more unhospitable regions of this planet;can you to give me a comparing risk analysis ?

Compare: Asia (PNG) and Africa (Angola).

If you go don't forget your leather coat, hat and bullwhip. And make sure you say hi to Brody.
crazy pilot-
I actually just got a letter yesterday from MBA-Airlines Papua New Guinea. Told me I didin't meet mins: for direct entry fo's its 1500 total, 500 multi, and a command multi engine instrument rating, whatever that means. For direct entry captains, 2000 total, 500 multi and command etc. they fly otters, 1900's and dash 8s. I have talked to a couple of people that have flown over there, experiences aren't as bad as avbugs. Definetly nowhere near as bad as Angola. If you're interested fax # is 011-675-325-22-19, chief pilot's name is cpt. Bruce Alabaster. Good luck.
Avbug I flew for MAF for a year send me a private message you know too much about it. My sister lived at Ukarampa and Madang for 10 years, it is the toughest flying out there, nothing like a modified ski jump. That is the name for an airstrip at Irian and PNG.
I did an exchange tour with the Aussies flying Herks, and one of our "special quals" was PNG Highlands ops. Generally operated out of Madang and hit pretty much every field we could land at. (Goroka's not for the faint of heart...) Very interesting place, especially if you're a WW2 history buff. Rabaul was fascinating. We always hired a guard to watch the airplane at night. Don't know if he actually did it, but the airplane was always there the next day.

Of course it's a lot different if you have a navigator and a radar set (and four engines) ;) Everyplace we went we'd run into some MAF guy, and walk away shaking our heads. "You did WHAT???"

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