...and Then the Engines Stopped: Flying in Papua New Guinea by Gerard R. Ward, Susan W. Serjeantson

By Gerard R. Ward, Susan W. Serjeantson

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Additional info for ...and Then the Engines Stopped: Flying in Papua New Guinea

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Mostly it was only ankle-deep, and on the crushed coral we could walk rather than slither. Part-way along the strip we were passed by the plane, revving furiously. We climbed back in, with the engines shrieking. The pilot had to yell to be heard, to tell us this time to keep as far back as possible, so the nose would lift. Then off we went. We catapulted down the strip, skimming along to start with, then the wheels began to be sucked in by the layer of sticky mud over the rubble. We could see the pilot practically hauling up on the controls, wishing the nose up.

On our estimations the trawler was well within the 12-mile limit — possibly no more than 6 miles off shore. As the noise of the Tiger would have already alerted the crew of the trawler, we decided to descend to 500 feet and fly directly to the vessel. We would then sweep past and, if possible, identify the name and country of origin. The vessel was painted dark grey, although substantial amounts of rust suggested it had not returned to its home port for some time. Markings on the stern of the vessel suggested it was Japanese but the name on the bow was too stained by rust for clear identification.

The pressure’s too great. ’ But he did then make an emergency landing at nearby Wapenamanda to close the door before flying on. Now, whenever I sit amid crowds of people in a big jet and hear the pilot instruct the cabin crew to ‘please arm the doors and cross-check’, this incident comes perversely to mind. Then there was the time my big bilum of beautiful highland cabbages got off-loaded at Mount Hagen. I had been given them as thanks for a lecture delivered at a Lutheran mission high school and was flying back to Port Moresby, looking forward to delicious crisp greens in that hot, dusty environment.

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