1000 hours flying the Pilatus Porter

Well that came up without me realising! It wasn’t until I was catching up on my logbook that I realised I’ve now passed 1000 hours flying the Porter. So to mark the occasion here’s a list of the highlights and lowlights I’ve had with the PC-6 in those 1000 hours flying.

Best moment: Papua checkout

There has been so many moments, it’s pretty difficult to select just one but I reckon it’ll be hard to top that feeling of being let loose on my own, in the mountains of Papua, with my very own PC-6. That first solo landing after being line-checked out of Timika was pretty special.

Worst moment: Survey flying

Whilst this is not quite what one would describe as a moment, survey flying has been by far the hardest flying I’ve ever had to do and not especially enjoyable if I’m honest. On the plus side it seriously sharpened up my hand flying to very precise limits and did allow me to fly around and see almost all of Indonesia.

Scariest moment: Acute food poisoning

This was without doubt the more frightening experience I’ve had the mis-pleasure of experiencing. I was flying along in IMC (Instrument Meteorological Conditions – i.e. in clouds) over high terrain, on oxygen, when I got hit by a serious and sudden dose of food poisoning. Trying to fly a single pilot aircraft when you’re barely able to focus straight due to the nausea and vomiting was genuinely scary. First problem was getting over the high terrain so I could descend and get off the oxygen. After that I then had to try land back at Timika when I could barely focus straight due to the nausea. Thankfully I got it down ok and recovered fine. It’s put me off tuna mayonnaise sandwiches for life though!

Most interesting experience: Overnighting in the jungle

Spend enough time flying over the jungle and it’s pretty likely you’ll end up spending the night there eventually. A steadily decreasing oil pressure reading forced me to make a precautionary landing mid-journey at Long Alango in northern Kalimantan. It proved to be a pretty interesting experience staying in the local village for the night, full story here.

Longest flight (distance): 670nm 

Unsurprisingly this was a ferry flight to reposition the aircraft from Balikpapan in Kalimantan to Kupang in Nusa Tenggara Timor. Thanks to a handy tailwind it only took 5 hours and 30 minutes.

Longest flight (time): 6:00hrs

This was the longest single survey flight I’ve done and was from Ternate in East Sulawesi. Trying to balance out drinking enough fluids to stay hydrated and not dieing for a pee mid-flight is probably one of the hardest parts to these long survey flights.

Shortest flight: 3nm – Long Paday to Binuang

Both of these airstrips are located in north Kalimantan and occasionally we’d have a need to drop into Long Paday from one of the other local airstrips before continuing on to Binuang. This has to be one of the shortest commercial flights in the world I reckon.

Favourite airstrip: Hidadipa

This airstrip is located in the highlands of Papua off to the side of a pretty steeply sided valley. In order to land on it, you have to descend into the valley nearly half a mile away, hug the right hand side before dropping down between the trees on short final to make the landing. Once you’re in the valley you have to land, as even a Porter can’t climb out again when fully loaded.

Daily pleasure

You just can’t beat a good sunrise as you climb out towards the giant bush pilots’ playground that is Papua. It’s a real pleasure to see these each morning and really brings it home how special it is to fly in this wonderful place.

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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11 Responses

  1. gerald sam says:

    Nice experience matt, how long you take for 1000 flight hours? And how many hours that’s need for captain position in porter (a specialy in susi air)?

  2. GEOFF says:

    Congrats Matt! you’re right. best moments of flights are take off and landaing…

  3. Anonymous says:

    wonderful. I have an RV9A and enjoy puttering around the states. your kind of flying is truly a dream!

    • Matt Dearden Matt Dearden says:

      Thanks! I love Vans aircraft. One day when I settle down somewhere I see myself building an RV8. I’ve already built a car so and aircraft’s surely the logical next step right?

  4. Jose CH says:

    Hello Matt. Congrats for your excellent Susi Air blog (and actually the job !).
    I am from Argentina, ICAO CPL, 1100 Hs TT, King Air (150+ Hs) C208 (one Ferry SIC USA to Argentina, 33 Hs) and Learjet SIC experience (220 Hs).
    Sent my CV to Susi but no reply.
    Do you have the latest situation about hiring at the moment ? I am 47 y/o…Also Polish passport, besides the Argentina one. Are there any Latin American pilots working there ? Thanks a lot for your reply. Jose ( josecheja@gmail.com )


    • Matt Dearden Matt Dearden says:

      Hi Jose,

      Thanks for your comments on the blog. I’m really not sure of the current hiring situation here at the moment. Last I heard was there was a bit of a recruitment freeze but things change pretty quickly out here so it could be lifted at any time.

      There’s something like 250+ pilots working here and due to me living in one of the most remote parts of the country, I have little contact with most of them. I know we have had a few pilots from Latin America in the past though.

      I’d suggest following up your initial application with a polite email to our HR people, asking what the current situation is. I know they get a lot of applicants every day, so don’t expect a quick reply. They only work Monday to Friday (usual office hours).

      Good luck!

    • Booth devitt says:


      I’ve got a few watch question, as I see you are a watch fiend, as am I. Please write me at wheresbooth@gmail.com

    • Matt Dearden Matt Dearden says:

      Check your emails Booth.

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