F is for Flying in PNG

This series of blog posts is part of the A to Z 2019 Blogging Challenge in which I will write snapshot memories of my early married life in the then Territory of Papua New Guinea.

My second flight ever is Brisbane to MoresbyAtoZ2019F

Leaving family and friends, and me, in tears

Days later the little Piaggio took us to my new home

An airstrip, a bush materials “terminal” aka hut.

A few months later

The sound of aircraft in the clouds

Searching for the missing Piper Aztec

Nine people dead, my husband there at take-off – the last to see them.

Gurney airstrip 1970s
Gurney airstrip in the 1970s.

Landing in Losuia with 5 minutes fuel

That confounded 100 metre hill

Lurking among the clouds.

Limited roads, mountainous terrain

Flying is like catching an urban bus

But with an element of Russian roulette.

TAA, Patair, Talair, MAF, Air Nuigini

183 Gurney airport
Not the bush material hut that we once knew. P Cass 2012

Piaggio, Fokkers, Twin Otters, Cessnas

Single engine, twin engines

Visual navigation

“There are no old, bold pilots”…

Submitting the statistics of the Talair fleet

Sometimes includes one less plane.

Mountain airstrips falling away

Clouds wreathe the mountains

You can imagine the hazards for pilots and their passengers.

Green skies, torrential rains

Tourists travel in stunned amazement.

Three near misses on one work trip

My husband decides he’ll leave that job.


My aircraft one-upsmanship on him

A charter on a Bristol Freighter, Goroka to Moresby

Counterbalanced by youthful flights on Catalinas and his audit flights.

Flying into Kundiawa, Chimbu.

Circuits and bumps in the Grumman Tiger

Watching the new 747 take off

A lumbering sight on the tarmac

A pelican when taking off

The pilot makes it look easy.

Landing at Jackson’s

The plane hurtles past the terminal

A RAAF Hercules in Goroka, bringing food relief to the Highlands during a famine. P Cass c1973.

Locals on board “hit the brakes”

We turn on the dirt, just off the runway

Lucky, since the next thing is a road.

Going finish – our final flight

Leaving PNG “forever”

Tears averted through the camera lens.

So many aerial views. So many memories.

A TAA Twin Otter at Gurney airstrip. The Catholic clergy from Hagita gathered under the wing.

Tok Pisin

Fly a plane – ranim balus

Balus – a plane

Pailat – pilot

An old Territory (of PNG) yarn:

Pailat tok long kirap “mi pusim ol baten, na ensin I kirap, mi legoim brek, na balus i ran i go, i ran i go, na pren bilong mi ia I singaut “Sitmi” mi pulim dispela diwai na balus I go antap”.

Rough translation: Pilot says, at take off, “I push the buttons, the engine starts, I release the brake then the plane runs up the runway, the co-pilot says “XXX” and I pull the stick and we take off”.

For those with an interest in flying in Papua New Guinea, this You Tube video talks about the social impact of the introduction of aircraft. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Ja0iMVgiAT4

Marawaka Airstrip.


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