|Parked up outside our maintenance hanger|
The route tends to change a little depending on where we can get a load to from Timika, the farther north the better. This time around I flew a load of government subsidised rice into Doufu which very much en-route and handy 85nm north of Timika. As the aircraft needed to be in Biak before 9am that morning, I departed nice and early at 6am.
|Timika – Doufu – Serui – Biak|
The only trouble with Doufu is that it’s located in the northern flatlands which are low lying and fairly flooded. As a result it’s a place that is better to go to later in the day because every morning it’s usually covered by a very low layer of fog. That morning was no exception. Luckily there were a few holes dotted about the place close enough to the airstrip and big enough to slip a Porter through and land without issue.
Every time I come to Doufu the local villagers always ask if I’m going to Nabire (WABI on the map above). And every time I have to tell them no, I’m heading back to Timika. However, today I was planning on heading to Serui, an island to the north en-route to Biak. Amazingly there was big excitement amongst the villagers who all saw their chance to get a step closer to Nabire. From Serui they could either hop on a boat or aircraft to Biak and from there take another boat or aircraft to Nabire. Certainly a long trip but I guess if you’ve been waiting weeks to get somewhere and an opportunity arises, you have to take it!
|Fog rolling in over the end of Doufu airstrip|
Getting out of Doufu was simply a matter of timing my departure just right for another gap in the fog which was continually wafting across the airstrip. Once through 1000ft we were back in the sunshine and heading for Serui.
I’d been to Serui about three years ago when I was flying the Caravan. Due to the nature of the airstrip (fairly short and located in a bowl with high terrain beyond the approach) it’s always known to be reasonably challenging for Caravan operations, especially once the wind started to pick up later in the day. My arrival was pretty early at around 8am, so no such issues there.
|Approach into Serui airstrip, Papua|
Doufu passengers offloaded, I collected seven more from Serui who wanted to get to Biak to catch the morning Garuda flight back to Jakarta, so a speedy turnaround was done and I was back in the air again.
Biak’s 3570m of runway presented no problems for the Porter and the passengers were quickly offloaded and the aircraft taxied across the runway, arriving a couple of minutes before 9am into the awaiting hands of our engineers. For me, it was to be a couple of days off to relax and enjoy the island’s legendary sunsets.
|Sunset over the seas surrounding Biak, Papua|