Training flights and UFOs
Now that I’ve been in Papua a little while, I’m tasked with showing new pilots around the various airstrips we go to from Timika. It basically involves sitting in the right hand seat on each flight and guiding the new guy along the routes and the best ways to deal with each of the airstrips. I’m not an instructor though and nor do I have any particular desire to be one at the moment but it’s a sort of rite of passage with our company. First up this year is Wilson who’s been flying our Porters in Kalimantan (as I did) for over a year now.
|Final day showing our latest Papua Porter pilot around the Timika area|
Before a new pilot to Papua comes to Timika (the first base one is assigned to in our company), they are already fairly experienced with flying the Porter but do some extra training with one of the senior instructors in Papua to ensure they’re up to the task of flying in this unique environment. Provided they pass muster, they then come and fly with me from Timika so that I can familiarise them with the area, the routes we typically fly and the common airstrips we go to. It makes a change having someone to talk with and it’s always interesting to see and discuss techniques as you can always learn something from a fellow pilot; even if they’re technically less experienced than yourself.
|Lenticular clouds, Papua, Indonesia|
|UFO shaped altocumulus lenticularis cloud|
|Westerly winds, Papua|
The biggest feature of the last week or so flying in Papua has been the strong westerly winds. After I’d completed showing Wilson around Timika, I then had to head for Biak in preparation of ferrying one of our Porters to Kalimantan (Borneo) where it was scheduled to go onto survey missions. However, as is usually the case with things out here, that didn’t quite go to plan and I ended up in Nabire for a few days whilst everything was finalised for the ferry flight.
As any of you who read my blog will know, I love flying from Nabire. The extra variety of airstrips we go to from there makes the flying much more interesting and challenging compared to our Timika base. The stronger winds only added to that with some unusually strong winds upon landing at some of the airstrips.
|Unito airstrip, Papua Indonesia|
It’s still technically the rainy season at the moment but it’s not really rained that much since I left Timika. The airstrips are still quite wet in places though, making some landings a little trickier than others. It certainly keeps one’s rudder skills up as with zero braking action you have to use power and rudder to keep things straight on landing sometimes. Adding power after landing is so counter-intuitive…
|Garmin G950 loose of both GPS receivers|
In addition to the wet airstrips and tricky winds, our Nabire aircraft has started to get GPS problems again. It’s an engineer’s nightmare trying to diagnose this sort of problem as it’s totally random and very intermittent, happening in different locations and at different times during the day. And of course it only ever happens when flying and never on the ground!
One minute you’re flying along and then out of the blue, you loose both GPS receivers at the same time. It takes around three to five minutes to regain the signal which is really not ideal with the weather we encounter at times. We’ve taken to having a GPS196 on at all times now as backup and that’s been faultless. Hopefully this problem can be solved soon!