When natives go wild

I knew something was a little odder than usual, as I shut the engine off, when one of the local villagers in Mapnduma was dancing around the aircraft with a spear in one hand and a machete in the other. Whilst it’s very common to see the locals holding various weapons, this guy seemed to be on the offensive for reasons unknown. All the other villagers seemed to be keeping their distance too. So I did want any self-respecting bush pilot does and ignored him whilst carrying on with my job unloading the passengers and cargo.


However, this chap’s antics were pretty hard to ignore as he ranted on in Indonesian (which I thought was rather odd too, as usually the Papuans don’t tend to speak that language unless to myself or an Indonesian person). He was also chasing groups of locals around with his weapons, all the while ranting about whether they support West Papua amongst other things I couldn’t quite understand.

As far as the locals were concerned, he wasn’t much of a threat judging by the fact no-one seemed to be challenging him in any way. My troubles started when I opted to shoot a bit of video, which he subsequently spotted and took offence to:

When natives go wild from IndoPilot on Vimeo.

I would have kept filming but to be honest I was more keen on not getting a spear through the chest. In my mind I was thinking this situation is like when a wild dog starts to chase you, the best course of action is to remain calm and walk away. So I did. Round to the other side of the aircraft. We then had a little game of walking around the aircraft whilst he then questioned my beliefs and demanded rather a lot of money for taking a photo of him.

I still can’t tell if he would have actually attacked me but luckily by now some of the other villagers came to my aid and shooed him away rather forcefully. So he ran off into the village to go find some other locals to terrorise. All just another day bush flying in Papua hey…

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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12 Responses

  1. It is wise to keep an eye on anyone with a spear.

  2. It’s small part of Indonesia, I think Indonesia is very Rich 🙂

  3. Yikes! Good thing the other people had your back.

  4. I think you should carry a gun!

  5. Like you put it yourself Matt – why would anyone want to fly a big, shiny jet 🙂

  6. Anonymous says:

    i was terrified just by watching on computer. cant imagine how you felt! glad you are safe!

  7. bulan says:

    Kisah yang ini seru, Matt. Mungkin saja orang itu agak tidak waras (mentally disturb).

  8. Sandra says:

    quite clear statement – do not mess with me!
    Stay safe xx

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