Although not actually an airstrip we’re scheduled to go to, Pa’upan (sometimes spelt Paupan) is situated just 4nm to the south east of Long Layu and many passengers seem to prefer to come here. It’s not unusual to get a tap on the shoulder, just as you’re about to start the engine for a flight to Long Layu, and be asked if some/all of the passengers can go to Pa’upan. As it’s so close, I’m usually more than happy to oblige.
|Parked up at Pa’upan|
Pa’upan’s situated in a tight bowl and surrounded by high terrain. It’s plenty long enough at 650m but that terrain encroaches on both approach paths, so you have to keep an eye on it as you thread your way between ridges/trees to make the landing. I know the MAF crews take a Caravan in here which must be a good challenge for them. The parking bay is rather tight too for the Porter and you have to be very aware of where the wing tips and tail of the aircraft are as you park up.
|Local dogs enjoying some shade under the aircraft|
The runway surface is the typical grass/clay affair which, as usual, gets pretty waterlogged. The other thing to watch for here are dogs. There’s loads of them wandering about the place. They do tend to get out of the way when they see or hear an aircraft belting down the runway, but not always!
You can land either direction here and unless the wind’s are especially strong. I tend to land on which-ever’s quickest from the direction I’ve come from. The approach for 30 does involve a rather tight right turn about 100ft from touch down due to a ridge that encroaches the final approach course just before the river. I tend to land a little deeper from this direction because of it.
|Short finals 12 at Pa’upan|
Coming in from the other direction for 12, there’s less obstacles in the way but you still end up threading the aircraft in-between ridges and trees. Situational awareness pretty important here. Keep an eye out for dogs and cows, the later more than likely requiring a go-around which can be safely down right up to touch-down from either direction.
Unless I’m heavy, a standard rolling take-off is fine here. It’s not too bumpy and plenty long enough for a Porter. Again, either direction is fine. Normally from here I’d be going to Long Layu which is a 3.5 minute flight away (the shortest I’ve done!) and to the north west, so taking 30 is best. From there it’s a hop over the ridge and you’re on a right base for runway 36 at Long Layu. If you had to walk it, you’d take a good 6+ hours through the jungle apparently!
|Back tracking the aircraft (facing 12 direction)|
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.