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.