Ferry flight 2 – Papua to Borneo

For the second time in as many months, I was tasked with relocating one of our aircraft from Papua to Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo). The last ferry flight I did was in November in which I was actually training up a fellow pilot on how to do such flights within Indonesia. This time however, I was on my own.

Me and my VIP passenger for the ferry flight

Seeing as the route worked so well last time, I saw no reason to change things so went with the same planned route of Biak to Sorong to Ternate (overnight) to Luwuk to Balikpapan. If the winds and weather caused any problems for that last leg to Balikpapan, I had planned in the option to land and refuel at Palu.

Ferry flight route from Biak, Papua to Balikpapan, Kalimantan

The winds were certainly against me on this flight though with an average 20-25kts headwind all the way. When you only do around 135kts TAS, that makes for a pretty poor groundspeed! Luckily, apart from the constant headwind, the weather was actually very good all the way with no build-ups or thunderstorms.

Tropical island passing overhead Raja Empat, Indonesia

For the first time in all the times I’ve been to Ternate (which has been quite a few over the past few years), the volcano was not covered in clouds which allowed me to finally see the full drama of Mounta Gamalama sticking up through the water. It certainly seems like a crazy place to live, especially as it’s an active volcano last erupting in 2011. I guess that rich, fertile soil for growing clove trees in is too much of a temptation for the locals. If you’ve not read about the history of Ternate, I suggest you take a look as it’s pretty interesting stuff.

Approaching Ternate, Indonesia
Mount Gamalama volcano crater, Ternate, Indonesia
Mount Gamalama volcano, Ternate, Indonesia

After overnighting in Ternate the final couple of legs went very well and for once the refuelling truck was actually there in Luwuk. I’d actually timed my arrival to coincide with one of WingsAir’s ATRs as I figured they’d be wanting fuel; and I was quite correct meaning a minimal delay for the final leg to Balikpapan.

Left base approach (Porter style) for runway 22, Luwuk, Sulawesi, Indonesia
110kts groundspeed for most of the flights (output from my Delorme inReach SE)

All in all a pretty smooth ferry flight more than half way across the Indonesian archipelago. My next task whilst I’m in Kalimantan is to do some more training; this time on a survey operation to finish up training another pilot for survey missions. That was the reason for bringing an aircraft from Papua as it was needed for survey operations. After the training is done, it’s back to Papua for some bush flying again if I can remember how to do it!

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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8 Responses

  1. Ignasi Cabani says:

    Right on! Keep posting Matt, it’s very interesting.
    Btw, that app style it’s mandatory 😉

  2. Jorge Lucca says:

    Hi Matt. I love your pictures and videos. Thanks a lot. Keep doing it! And keep enjoying the Porter.

  3. Hi matt nice blog! Btw do you have line account or something ,i want to ask you about some question. Safe flight

  4. Anonymous says:

    hi im andy from malaysia. i did enjoy read n watch your videos. good work.

    physics lecturer

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