Survey near Kisar Island

Finally, after a 8 days, I’ve gotten back to civilisation. Kupang to be exact, where I used to be based when flying the Cessna Caravans. And it’s good to be home!

Following on from Sumbawa, the next survey project was to be a 1 day job (2 nights) surveying an island a few miles away from Kisar. I’d flown into Kisar many times, so knew it was pretty remote and had an idea of what to expect but figured for a couple of nights it’ll be ok.

Surprisingly good road between the airstrip to the town

We arrived in Kisar around midday and set about locating transport and a place to sleep. The client’s agent who was supposed to meet us at the airstrip wasn’t there and with no cellphone coverage, we couldn’t call anyone. It’s amazing how dependant we are on these things now…

Yes I do have a Porter as my phone’s background

Chatting to some of the folk wandering about the airstrip, it turns out there were a 3-4 hotels in the town so we hitched a ride there with a friendly local who we also managed to negotiate hiring his car for our duration. We tried one place which only had 3 rooms in total and we needed 4, so moved on to the next hotel. This one is apparently the best one in town:

I’ve stayed in worse…
My en-suite bathroom. No running water (or hot water obviously)
My daily breakfast, Indonesian style

So we checked in and headed back out to the airstrip for the 30 minute drive along the road that was going to become very familiar for the next 8 days.

In order to do a LIDAR survey you need a good distance between the terrain you’re surveying and the clouds, preferably around 900m. Day one offered this over much of the island we were surveying apart from a few sections of higher ground.

The next few days were going to involve going to/from the airstrip 2-3 times a day to see if we could complete the job. Pretty much every time we got out to the island this is what we got:

Cloud covered island. Too low in places for surveying

Nightmare! We tried at the crack of dawn (6am departure), mid-morning, afternoon, late afternoon and even early evening, landing as the sun set. It soon became apparent we would just have to get lucky with the weather.

In-between driving to/from the airstrip, and occasionally flying, there was time to explore the island a little as well as enjoy some r&r on the beach:

And if you venture into the waters off the beaches, Kisar offers some amazing snorkelling. Some of the best in Indonesia I reckon and a great opportunity to finally test out the flat lens case I was given for my GoPro at Christmas. I’d love to do some scuba diving around here as the reefs drop off considerably further than I can go on a single breath!

Aside from the beaches and sea, there’s also some Colonial influence from the Dutch who settled here back in the 1600s. This old church was the only ruins I could find but the locals mentioned there was more elsewhere.

We finally managed to finish the survey in the early morning on a day when the wind had dropped and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.  In fact we could have done the whole island that morning. Typical!

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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3 Responses

  1. Ian Ferguson says:

    Looks a pretty nice spot for a holiday. I’ll bring my snorkel and borrow a scooter…

    • Matt Dearden Matt Dearden says:

      I think for a few days it’s fine but when you’re staying there for work without knowing when you can leave, it can get a little testing with the lack of modern amenities.

      However, the waters and beaches are first class. You’d pay a lot of money to find places like that from a holiday tour operator and they wouldn’t be deserted!

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