First day of flying

30 March 2012

Pilot Nick Swalm reports on the first day of flying in our new GA8 Airvan in Papua New Guinea:

This was the first day of operations for P2-MKK in Papua New Guinea. I was able to take Paula Swalm along as photographer to help document the day.

The first sector was Mt Hagen to Yambaitok, an airstrip that sits crosswise in the Yuat river valley. The aircraft was full of 350kg of food supplies for the local healthcare worker. As I unloaded the aircraft I explained to them that this was the first operational flight in PNG for this aircraft. They were very pleased that this plane's first bush landing was at their place.

From there we were empty up the valley to Yenkis airstrip where we picked up a healthcare worker and a student to take to Kompiam. Kompiam is home to Enga Baptist Hospital, where the majority of the patients in the area go and a number of schools.

From Kompiam I carried two students returning to Yumbaitok from school. Two patients and a guardian for the patients to Iropeno. Also on board was one new-born baby. Both patients had been "medevaced" into Kompiam a couple weeks prior and now were returning home.

From Iropeno I picked up another student who was headed to school at Kompiam and a dead Cassowary (bird) that was being sent for a bung kai (gathering/meal). As I waited for the passenger and cargo at Iropeno I explained to the community that this was MKK's first day flying passengers in PNG and that it has been given as a gift to help us serve communities in PNG like theirs. The agent translated what I had said into the local dialect and the 100 people, or so, that were standing around the airstrip erupted into applause and cheers. Then the community leader steeped forward from the crowd and through a translator said “We want to give our sincere thanks to the people who donated this aircraft, and to MAF who continue to serve us and others here in PNG. Two weeks ago we sent these two patients to the hospital on the plane and now you have brought them back healthy. Because of our airstrip, none of the other aircraft (Twin Otters, Caravans) can land here - only the GA8 and the Cessna 206. We are very thankful to see a new aircraft come to MAF PNG that can come to our place and help us. Thank you!”

From there I dropped off the student at Yambaitok then flew my last passenger to school at Kompiam.

Once at Kompiam I had one more unexpected passenger. The driver for Kompiam Hospital, who needed to get to Mt Hagen, but could not go by road because the bridge had collapsed.

Thank you for your gift of P2-MKK. In its first day of ops alone it made an impact on a hand full of communities in need of its service here in PNG, carrying food, patients and students to and from these remote areas. It is such a blessing to have a new airplane and I wonder how many lives it will impact here in PNG over the coming years.

 

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