Sometimes we have to do flights we really don’t want to do. One morning as I was about to start the day’s flying, the chief pilot of a partner organisation came to me. He told me that one of their small airplanes had come off the runway during landing in a remote village and was now bent up and stuck in the ditch.
An hour later I took the chief pilot and the partner organisation’s base manager to the accident site in the mountains. They needed the helicopter because the tail of the airplane was sticking out into the airstrip preventing other airplanes from landing. I was happy to see the pilot and the passengers were all well; not one scratch on any of them, praise God! I was very happy to see this pilot alive and well since he is a friend of mine.
As we inspected the plane we saw that fuel was gushing out of the damaged left wing but, praise God, there was no fire. We checked many parts and measured everything out. Before we flew back to Wamena, the local people wanted to pray for the pilot and for all the flying in Papua, it was very encouraging!
Further flights were made for the Indonesian aviation authorities and a team of inspectors to plan how best to move the plane off the airstrip. We then flew a team of mechanics and the tools they needed to the accident site.
This whole incident could have been a lot worse. For me, and hopefully for many other pilots, this was a reminder that Papua is not an easy place to fly in. The flying here is dangerous even on a good day without any of the bad weather we have to deal with. On Sunday in church the pilot gave an encouraging testimony of the events and the feelings he experienced after the crash. We are flying here by God’s Grace and need to remember that, always! Thank you for your prayers!
Matt, Pilot and Mechanic