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.

New supplies - MSF aid to Haiti

The latest plane load of supplies for MSF has arrived at Port Au Prince airport. I parked the trusty Ilyushin at the U.N. pax and cargo terminal which is at the threshold end of RWY 28.

I'm ready to start ferrying the supplies & personnel around the country.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Humanatarian Aid Flight: Port Au Prince to Kingston

Our Doctor delivered and another one is ready to leave.  This one has been here a month and is ready to return to Jamaica.
Haiti is not a small country.  Flying west on a clear day it is also quite beautiful from above.
About to get our feet wet.
Jamaica straight ahead.
ATC has us down close to the mountains.
On the ground and unloaded.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Humanitarian Aid Flight: MYNN-MTPP (Port Au Prince, Haiti)

When you think about the Bahamas, rain is not the first thing that comes to mind, but...well, it does rain quite a bit here.
I'm working with Doctors Without Borders and today I'll transport a US doctor who's flown commercially to Nassau.
I'll be taking him to Port Au Prince, Haiti where they always need help.
Out of the shower now as we climb out for Flight Level 210.
I'm flying a Piper Malibu Jet Prop.
Over Haiti now and getting ready to land.
It looks quite nice and tropical from above
but on the ground very third worldish, maybe even fourth world.
Still the Jet Prop looks good rolling out and our doctor is delivered.

Humanitarian Aid Flight AYWK to AYKK

Papua New Guinea this time. Boram to Kikori. A short flight from one side of the country to the other. The only thing in my way is the 11000 ft high central mountain range. Not a place for my Cessna 182. I take the Pilatus out of the hanger.

Getting cranked up. This took some time as I hadn't flown the PC-12 since last year. The next few flights will go more smoothly.

Off the ground and I find the PC-12 still an agile and smooth flyer. Why did I stay away so long?

The Humanitarian Aid Flights require a high payload and the ability to land on a short and probably unimproved strip. The Pilatus fills the bill on both counts. Incidentally the runway at Kikori (AYKK) is listed as having a "plank" surface. Hello? That's a new one for me.

Turns out a plank surface (in this case at least) was a metal plank surface. Think the Marston Mat surfaces used everywhere during WW II. The matting is still used in many places and yes, it seems to have all been produced during the Second World War.

The lighter green area towards the front of my window is not where I'm going. That's just a few minutes ahead yet.

Maybe you can see my target a little in this shot.

No? Me neither, but it's really over there.

All lined up (sort of) and ready to land. Full flaps for this one and into reverse thrust just before touching down. I may have misheard during the landing but I swear the sim comes with a rumble/bump/rumble/bump sound file for the strip.

Not the prettiest landing but I got there and got my passengers and medical supplies off loaded OK.