Saturday, August 12, 2017

Humanatarian Aid Flight Wapenamanda to Woitape (with a diversion)

Flying into primitive places can be difficult. Throw in an unstable political situation and it gets worse--in a hurry. Read on.

Cranking up at Wapenamanda for a delivery to Woitape, 267 nm miles away. Full load of medical supplies, those ubiquitous blue tarps, medical hardware, etc. We've got two crew members on board to do the heavy lifting at unloading .

Just off the ground with the mains just inches off the ground. Flaps in first position, ice vanes open to guard against who knows what kicking up off the not well maintained asphalt, N-1 at 98% and off in plenty of time, no sweat.

And here's where things began to go to H... Base radioed for us to divert to Finschhafen (good New Guinean word that). Yeah, it's German. Our original destination had been reported within the past hour as having been overrun by elements of the Tamyl Tigers linked to ISIS. Nice.

Luckily the MSF doctors and staff had been warned some 6 hours earlier and managed to escape in their trucks but all the medical equipment was lost. The escape convoy had just reached a location with an operational radio.

OK, so we got out our (rather sketchy) charts and wrote a route plan for Finschhafen, checked our fuel (looks good to me) and off we went. "Finch Haven" was about the same distance east as Woitape was to the southeast. For our flight, no harm, no foul.

Here's a shot of our route. Do you want to know how remote and rugged PNG is? See those valleys down there? Almost each one has it's own distinct native tribe. And each tribe has it's own language and customs. Each tribe might be located only 15 miles from the next, but the terrain is so hugely rugged that those 15 miles may take three to five days to cover. There are no roads. There are no real airports. There are no primitive airfields. There are no detailed maps.

Here we are, 5 or so miles from Finschhafen. Landing in a few minutes.

There it is. 2800 ft of clay. Nothing else. Calls over our CTAF frequency produced no answers, but that doesn't mean there aren't other airplanes out there. My co-pilot keeps a close look out with the field glasses.

Seconds to go. Good landing too. An unloading crew met us and all was well. The doctors and nurses from Woitape are safe. Good day all in all.

Life in Papua New Guinea goes on.


Bill Cox said...

Love the details you give us.
Nice flight.

TachyonDriver said...

I concur. Great social history details and screenshots. Nice paintjob on the plane too!

goalieaviation 70 said...

Beautiful scenery

granitesquare said...

Always enjoy a good story. Although FIN comes up in the sim, being an old abandoned strip, it no longer appears on any maps. I did locate it with satellite view a few miles south of the village of Finschhafen. The runway looks to be in rough shape mostly grass covered but still usable. Hope the landing gear came through unscathed.:-)