Survey training

As our company gains more and more new Porter pilots, someone has to train them up on flying the various different missions we are tasked with and currently that person is me. As many of you who read my blog will know, I’m not exactly a fan of survey flying but as with all jobs, sometimes you have to do things you don’t exactly enjoy.

Jaime flying a line with the Leica LIDAR system

One positive of leaving Papua for a bit was going to our Balikpapan base and catching up with a load of pilots I’d not seen in a long time whilst also enjoying some first world luxuries (like watching “The Wolf of Wall Street at the cinema – great movie btw!).

Whilst we were waiting for the engineers to refit the Leica survey camera and LIDAR system, I got to try my hand at golf. Having never tried it before I could never really see the appeal but an afternoon spent smacking balls down the driving range was good fun and I reckon I might well have to try a few rounds when I next get the chance.

Bit of downtime at the golf driving range, Balikpapan

It only took a few days to get the aircraft and paperwork ready for the survey, so it was time to get back to work. At least the pilot I was scheduled to train on survey was actually an old colleague and good friend who’d left the company about a year ago to pursue other things. He’d actually done a little survey before he left, so I basically had to fly with him for a few days and get him back up to speed with things. As expected, he flew great and I had no hesitation in signing him off for solo survey missions.

A typically sad sight of the rainforest being burnt, Kalimantan
Haze on final approach into Ketapang due to smoke from forest fires

Sadly the flying conditions in south-west Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo), where we were doing the survey from, were not ideal. It seems the world’s desire for palm oil continue to fuel the burning of the rain forests in Indonesia. It’s always a sad sight to see.

Survey camera operators in the back of the Pilatus PC-6 Porter

In addition to us pilots doing survey training, our camera operators were also doing some training with their new recruits. It’s pretty cosy in the back of the Porter with all that equipment and I don’t envy them on those seats for hours on end; I thought the front ones were uncomfortable!

Thankfully I’m now back in Papua again and in my favourite place of Nabire. Sadly there’s been a problem with the contract negotiations and currently we’re not actually flying. Hopefully things will pick up soon as there’s not much else to do out here and frustratingly my mountain bike is still in Timika. Watch this space!

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. Allan Gascon says:

    Did you guys add new Porter planes to the fleet that’s why you’re getting new pilots? Great blog and pictures. I enjoyed reading it.

  2. Dedy Fuadi says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Dedy Fuadi says:

    Interview invitation (by email or chat)
    Hello, Mr. Matt Dearden.

    How do you do?
    Let me introduce my self, my name’s Dedy Fuadi. I’m studying S1 Ilmu Komputer (First degree of Computer Science) at Mulawarman University, Samarinda, East Kalimantan.
    I’m on final semester for this year of my study. I have to create a final project to accomplish my first degree.
    I have an idea to create a system which is can help the virtual pilot or atc to improve their flight plan before doing a flight in IVAO network (
    I have choose Kalimantan as my case studies for this thesis. It’s based on webgis (geographic information system based on web) with dynamic programming method as procedure to get conclusion for best route of a flight plan.
    With my respectful to you as a real pilot of susi air, I hope you could help me to become an informant interview for my thesis.

    Please respon soon

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