Thursday, January 26, 2006

Day in the Twin Otter

We went flying with MAF today - just for fun. Took off at around lunchtime, flew to Marawaka to pick up some people and coffee. Marawaka is tucked away in a magnificent valley. The Twin Otter went exhileratingly close to the mountains as it circled down into the valley losing height before the landing. We spent an interesting half an hour there standing by the plane as probably a thousand people watched us through the airstrip fence.

Then on to Aiyura, right next to Ukarumpa - where the 'Summer Institute of Linguistics' (AKA 'Little America') is. Spent a pleasant hour there being shown around the place - amazing to see the work they are doing recording some of the almost 900 languages found in PNG.

From Aiyura we flew to the small village of Owena, perched on the side of a mountain, with an airstrip only 400 metres long at a 12% grade up the slope. Very exhilerating! I can't believe these pilots do it all the time. The airstrip is so steep that if it's wet, the plane runs the risk of sliding down it when it's parked up the end! The villagers at Owena had none of the hesitations (or fences) that the one's at Marawaka had. We were mobbed by probably a hundred children as we took photos. Di attempted to hand out some stickers at one point - causing a complete moshpit of crazy kids. She gave the rest of the stickers to a local guy who is the church worker there, to distribute when the hype had died down.

Home again in the evening to rainy Goroka... what an amazing day! Of course it's all logged with GPS and viewable in Google Earth - download the file HERE
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