Data Dian

Length: 420m
Runway: 15/33
Elevation: 1750ft
Slope: 4% up (landing runway 33)

The rather quaint terminal building at Data Dian
Data Dian’s a typical little mountain strip, set on the side of the hill and orientated upwards. This, as always, helps with both landing and take-off by shortening the required amount you need for both. I really enjoy flying into this strip. It’s just over an hour’s flight from Malinau and the setting really is very pretty.  It’s also a fairly decent strip to land on as the surface is clay/grass and is one of the better ones for braking on, providing a decent level of grip even after rain. The boggy section however is right at the top where you have to turn around.
Tailwheel rather bogged down after turning around
If there’s been a lot of rain, you can have serious problems turning around. I know a colleague of mine got stuck here which is not an uncommon occurrence when trying to manoeuvre a 2.5 tonne aircraft on supper soft ground.
Local villagers gathering up their cargo to walk down to the village
There’s a reasonable amount of terrain on the approach for this one which needs careful thinking about before you commit to a landing. As always with an up-slope, you should only land that way, so we always plan to use runway 33. The best way I’ve found is to approach from the south east and have a gradual right-hand curved approach onto short finals for 33. This does involve popping over a ridge which runs almost in-line with the strip before you start your right-hand turn. Alternatively you can go out a little further to the south east and fly along the small valley and onto the final approach course.
Final approach R/W 33 at Data Dian
Once over the ridge you then drop into the small valley and keep left of the other side of it which encroaches on the final approach path slightly (hence why keeping a right hand turn going until you’re about to cross the river works well).
The abort point is about where the river is. Break left and follow the river for a bit with a climbing left turn. The main reasons you might have to abort are people/animals on the runway or strong winds causing an unstable approach. When coming into here in the afternoon, there’s almost always a quartering tailwind (this means from your left/right and from behind) which you have to watch out for as it’s sometimes quite gusty.

One way in, one way out. As usual with a sloping runway, we depart downhill. The wind can also be quite helpful here, especially in the afternoons when it’ll tend to be a quartering headwind. A max performance take-off can be a little tricky here because the soft ground at the top, combined with the down-slope can be a little too much for the brakes to hold; so you can start rolling before you’ve got full power set. Not too much of a problem but one to be ready for.

Lined up for departure at Data Dian
Once in the air, I just follow the small valley until I have enough height to clear the ridge on the left for a climbing turn back on track to Malinau. Engine failure options are limited but the valley bellow seems like a reasonable option if required.

Everything written in this article are opinions of the author and should not be taken as sole reference for attempting a flight into or out of the aforementioned airstrip.

Matt Dearden

Matt Dearden

English born professional pilot, writer, blogger and columnist. Currently flying the Pilatus PC-6 Turbo Porter in Papua, Indonesia.

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