A quiet week flying
|Fairly large chip taken out of the propeller|
Thankfully by the time I did get flying on Wednesday, there was a bit of respite in the weather. We’re well into wet season here in Indonesia and Timika’s been getting it’s fair share of rain and multiple layered clouds according the the other pilot based here. The other thing I’ve had to contend with is the instrument setup in the Porter currently based here in Timika; I’ve not flown with the traditional “six-pack” gauges for well over a year now and it did take me a few flights to get comfortable with it again.
|One of our traditional six-pack instrument equipped PC-6s|
I’d not realised quite how used I’d gotten to having a full glass cockpit in the shape of the Garmin G950 with it’s fantastic moving map and terrain database overlay. Not having those things really adds to your workload when flying around in IMC (clouds) and lessens your situational awareness. Of course it’s still perfectly safe and not a problem flying about with a more basic GNS-430 setup but it’s a reminder on how things have evolved in a short period of time. It’s a telling sign that one of the larger missionary operators here in Papua upgraded all of their Porter fleet to the G950 setup.
Of course with wet weather comes wet airstrips. Wangbe has been closed for a while now due to large undulations affecting controllability on landing and take-off. The local people have been working on it for months now and had apparently done as much work as they were willing to do to fix the undulations. So I was tasked with going there for a test landing.
The good news is the undulations are now a little better however due to all the rain the airstrip was as slippery as they get. As you can see in the above photo, I touched down in the middle, at the beginning of the airstrip. However due to the zero braking action and slight crown (side slope either side of centreline), the aircraft started to slide off to the right of the airstrip. I had to increase power during the ground roll to get some airflow over the tail fin and use the rudder to steer the aircraft back into the centre. This is one of the downsides of tailwheel aircraft; any side slope is much harder to control than with a nose-wheel aircraft.
|Yuli, who works in our Papua flight ops dept, visiting the locals in Beoga, Papua|
Our local district manager here in Timika left last week and his replacement, Yuli, had been asking me about coming along on a flight to see some of the real Papua. She’s only been in Papua a couple of months and based in the office in Sentani, so this was the first time she’d flown out into the mountains. I think she enjoyed it, as you can see in the above photo.
On Friday, our newest Papua Porter pilot joined us from our Kalimantan operation (as I did over a year ago now) and so, as one of the more experienced pilots here in Timika, I am tasked with showing him all the various routes and airstrips we go to. That means sitting in the right hand seat and talking him through each route as we fly them and the various en-route hazards. I try to give out as many pointers as I can and answer any questions but as I’m not an instructor, I can’t log these hours.
As we have a number of new guys starting over the next few months, it’s looking like I’ll be doing a lot more of these training flights which sadly means no actual flying for me. Hopefully it’ll only be for a few months and things can get back to normal soon. Whilst it’s satisfying to pass on knowledge, I enjoy actually flying more than watching someone else do it!