21 August 2013

Plane Wrecks in Papua New Guinea

This is part 2 of my slides from my time in Papua New Guinea in the 60s. I was travelling a lot throughout the territory as it was then known and came across a lot of plane wrecks from WWII, when the Japanese occupied the territory. But I also had some dangerous flying experiences while getting around.

Japanese plane crashed just outside Port Moresby

Another Japanese wreck near Wewak

This one came down on Manus Island

I tried to start it up but no success
On one of my trips to the border town of Vanimo, we returned back to Wewak in the Piaggio (Below). About half way into a 2 hour flight, we came across a solid black wall of a storm ahead of us. I was sitting next to the pilot. He radioed Wewak and told them of the storm. They instructed him to try to fly around it. We banked left and had the wall to our right while we were cruising along it. It really looked like a solid wall.

After about 30 minutes, the pilot reported that there was no way we could fly around this wall and we didn't have enough fuel to return to Vanimo. After some debate between the control tower in Wewak and the pilot. it was decided to do an emergency landing at Aitape, a copra plantation on the way. The tower alerted the station owners. By now it was getting dark. The owners send some Toyota 4X4s to come and light up the air strip so we could land.

We made it and the pilot taxied the plane to higher ground as the rain can flood the air strip, sometimes for days. We were transported to the plantation just as the storm hit. We were fed and spent the night there and in the morning, were able to resume our trip back to Wewak.

Piaggio at Vanimo ready to fly us back to Wewak
Next Time: Village Life.


  1. I'm glad you survived so that I could meet you and marry you up there. Ahhh "Those were the days my love" tra la la la

  2. While we are all very tired of hearing the name Manus Island, you are quite familiar with it. Piaggio make motor scooters, don't they? Apparently planes as well.

    1. Yes Andrew I am very familiar with Manus Island. HAMS Tarangau was the Australian navy base there. We did several jobs there for the government. Our accomodation was in former US Nissen Huts, I assume where the the new arrivals will be housed. We used to eat in the navy's NCO Mess. The Piaggio, was a push-pull plane. The props were at the back of the wings pushing the thing through the air. From memory, 8-seaters. On that flight, there were only my refrigeration mechanic and myself, and of course the pilot.

  3. Your current entries focusing on Papa New Guinea is interesting. My grandfather was stationed there during WW2. He was the mechanical engineering and fixed many of the skeletal remains of the planes featured in your photos. And I have to make this look just like my English Uncle from Nottingham.


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