Gebrau airstrip is finally open, after 20 years!
Nestled at 6,400 feet in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea, the villagers of Gebrau celebrated the opening of their airstrip with an MAF GA8 Airvan and an SIL Kodiak on the ground. The community will now have access to healthcare and education, and transportation for the 50kg coffee bags they previously had to lug up and down the mountains to the nearest airstrip.
For the Highlanders, growing coffee is an important source of income. Every year MAF flies tonnes of coffee beans from numerous villages to Goroka or Mount Hagen for further processing. Now the people of Gebrau will also have easy access to our planes.
MAF pilots Mathias Glass and Paul Woodington had the privilege of joining the local people during their celebrations at the official airstrip opening. They were well looked after and enjoyed the hospitality, though their stay was longer than expected - clouds and rain made their planned take-off impossible, so they had to stay overnight, huddled in a hut with four SIL pilots. The night is cold at such a high altitude, so villagers lit an open fire, properly 'smoking' everyone as well as keeping them warm.
MAF Communications Officer, Mandy Glass, also attended the festivities. Many shares, 'What a day! What a blessing to witness this celebration! And what an experience getting stuck there after the weather closed in! I can still smell the smoke from the fire pit in the hut!'
The new airstrip is about 600m long, with a 15% slope. Nazarene missionaries Bob and Bessie Black started building the Gebrau airstrip over twenty years ago. Bob would trek several hours every Monday, from Dusin to Gebrau, to work on the airstrip, returning home every Friday, but for various reasons the airstrip wasn't opened. Work on the airstrip was revived many years later by SIL missionaries John and Maila Davies, who have seen it through to its opening.
Gebrau airstrip - the facts
- 6,400 feet above sea level
- 540 metres in length
- Average slope gradient 12.5 degrees (although is steeper in places)
- Opens the door to healthcare, education and economic support.