Come fly with me

Meet pilot Glenys Watson

Pilot Glenys Watson


Glenys has known she wanted to be a pilot since she was 13 years old. Achieving her first solo flight during secondary school, she spent her early career as a commercial pilot and flying instructor. 

During a ten-year break to raise four daughters, Glenys began to realise how precious and fragile life can be, and she sensed God was calling her to fly again. So, in August 2017, Glenys and her husband Jonny bravely moved their young family to one of the world’s most unreached countries so Glenys could become a bush pilot.

Here’s a glance at life in her cockpit…

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‘My day starts with coffee and my Bible. I enjoy the quiet before my family joins me at 6am. Then it’s breakfast, a quick shower and we’re all out the door by 6.50am.

‘At the hangar, I check the aircraft, and look over the schedule and weather while the plane is loaded with precious cargo. No day is the same. We could be flying building materials, produce such as coffee and peanuts, school supplies or health workers. Or it could be a medical evacuation. MAF serves over 200 remote communities in PNG – and every airstrip brings a different and exciting challenge.

Picture of a little girl

In this culture, everyone carries a colourful, handmade string bag called a bilum. The bags have great tribal significance, with vibrant colours representing different clans. Highland folk use bilums to carry food, essentials and even babies. I don’t leave the house without mine, packed with phone, wallet, bottle of water, and an essential pack of wet wipes.

During a flying day, I might face extreme weather conditions and mingle with mountain tribes who are otherwise unreached by the outside world. One week in February 2018, MAF was called to respond to an emergency – a 7.5 magnitude earthquake had shaken Hela Province.

‘I personally seek to use my gifts and talents to help others around me’

With 70 years of flying experience, local knowledge and NGO partnerships, MAF formed a key part of the response. In one week alone, I flew over 8½ tonnes of relief cargo to communities affected by the earthquake. It was a privilege to be here in PNG at that time, working as part of a great team and showing the love of Christ during such suffering. The Australian Defence Force described MAF’s aerial surveys as ‘gold’ and agreed that MAF helped shape the disaster response.

I’m not only delighted to serve MAF, but I’m also incredibly proud of my family. Jonny has been my biggest support over our 16 years of marriage, and our 4 beautiful daughters have adapted wonderfully to living in a completely different culture. We all feel very sure that PNG is where God wants us to be. I personally seek to use my gifts and talents to help others around me – and there aren’t many more exciting places to do it than here in the rainforests, mountains and valleys of PNG.


Airmail Line


Map of PNG


Reaching the unreachable

PNG is the eastern part of the world’s second largest island. Vulnerable to volcanic activity, earthquakes and tidal waves, it presents some of the most challenging flying conditions in the world.

Here are just a handful of the airstrips which require world-class flying skills and years of experience to help open up otherwise unreachable pockets of human life.


CLASS A: 800m and longer. No more than 2% slope
CLASS B: 600-800m. Less than 8% slope
CLASS C: shorter than 600m or steeper than 8% slope
CLASS D: technically challenging (length, slope, circuit, terrain, weather)

Photo on the landscape from a plane with caption - "Tekin 'The windy ridge' class D: Challenging"

Length: 530m
Slope: 9%
Altitude: 5,500ft
Cargo: school supplies

‘The school at Tekin works with minimum resources, is understaffed and has crowded classrooms. Yet many of these students will out-perform those of the most prestigious colleges in PNG. Tekin school results have consistently been in the top 10 in PNG – but this village is only accessible thanks to the airstrip served by MAF.’
Mandy Glass, MAF Communications

Photo of MAF plane being unloaded with caption - "Golgubip 'The visual illusion - class D: Most challenging"

Length: 470m
Slope: 8%
Altitude: 4,650ft
Cargo: injured patients

‘This is one of PNG’s most challenging airstrips. Rising terrain causes a strong visual illusion of being too high on approach.’
Brad Venter, MAF Pilot

Photo of airstrip - "Guwasa 'The wild one' - class C"

Length: 510m
Slope: 9.2%
Altitude: 4,530ft
Cargo: radio equipment

‘I love doing this. Once you finish a radio installation, you hear the first call that comes in and see the smiles on people’s faces. They know that they’re connected to the outside world. It’s so satisfying knowing what you’re doing can change people’s lives.’
Dave Feka, MAF Technologies PNG

Photo of Tumolbil airstrip - "Tumolbil 'The spectacular' - class D"

Length: 538m
Slope: 11%
Altitude: 3,400ft
Cargo: Gospel resources

‘Awaiting the plane at Tumolbil was a team from Baptist Union. Having hiked for days into the surrounding mountains to assist Christians without access to pastors or even Bibles, the group was glowing with reports of how hungry those they encountered had been for God’s Word.’
Paul Beck, Field Reporter

Continue your journey through Papua New Guinea