Jila

Situated in a natural bowl, on the southern side of the Puncak mountain ranges, Jila is a nice introduction to flying in Papua. It’s sealed surface offers better braking action than a grass or dirt airstrip and the gentle up-slope is enough to limit the landing ground roll and aid take-off but not so much as to require more specialised sloped runway landing techniques.

Approach in to Jila, Papua

Runway statistics

Orientation: 12/30 (landing 30, take-off 12)
Length: 500m
Elevation: 4100ft
Slope: 8% upslope
Surface: broken/soft asphalt

Terminal building and radio hut at Jila airstrip, Papua

Pilot notes

There’s not too many things to be wary of in Jila other than the usual mountain flying stuff like stronger winds and cloud build-ups later in the day but like all Papua airstrips you don’t want to get too casual about things. The approach path is long and clear offering a straight in, stable approach from a couple of miles out. Provided you touch down near the beginning of the airstrip, the length is ample for a Porter and you’ll probably have to add power to get to the top where it levels off to a smallish apron of sorts.

The surface of the airstrip, although fairly soft and broken tarmac, is actually quite level so there should be no problems keeping things straight on the landing and take-off rolls. Expect a tailwind of up to 10kts later in the day if the sun’s been shining, less if it’s a cloudy day. The wind is rarely a problem thankfully which allows flight operations late into the day.

Weather wise, Jila is usually closed early in the morning due to fog and low clouds but usually opens up from around 8am onwards until quite late. Be wary of cloud build-ups later in the day forming rain showers which can eventually close the whole bowl. I very nearly had to overnight in Jila after landing in what started as a small rain shower but soon developed into a rather big storm whilst I was on the ground and which lasted for a couple of hours.

Looking down the airstrip from the top at Jila, Papua

The main things to look for on departure are people on the runway and that you have a clear path out. If the clouds are low, you really want to be able to see the ridges pictured above before leaving the ground. If they’re masked in clouds, be very sure you can see further out into the valley to safely climb out of the bowl. There’s lots of terrain around and you don’t want to be flying into clouds until you’re well clear of the peaks further to the south.

Villagers taking cargo and logs from the airstrip to the village in Jila, Papua
Wood and cable bridge linking the village to the airstrip in Jila, Papua

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.

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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4 Responses

  1. Welsh Pixie says:

    Lovely photos, thanks for sharing! Indonesia is on my list of must-visit places. I used to have a pen-pal from Jakarta back in the 90s; some of the stories she’d write to me were horrific. It’s nice to see the country from a more peaceful perspective.

  2. Rui Sousa says:

    Great report. Definitely quite diferent from comercial aviation we’re used to see here in Europe.
    Great pics also!

    Keep up!

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