Biak – Serui: welcome back to Papua

Well, it’s certainly good to be back flying the Porter again. Even after over two months away from flying it, getting into the seat and firing up the PT-6 felt like second nature; it’s like I’d barely been away! It’s just a shame I’m not quite back to the mountains I so love just yet.

600 or so meters of tarmac in Serui, Papua

I’ve actually been back in Indonesia since last Sunday night but got delayed in Jakarta a few extra days before I could get out to Papua. At least it gave me a bit longer to get over the jet-lag which never seems to get any easier. I finally got to Papua at the end of last week and have been living on the island of Biak since then, flying our daily Biak – Serui flights with the Porter.

Biak and Serui Google Map, Papua

It never ceases to amaze me how many people want to fly between these two islands, mostly Indonesian rather than Papuan. Neither island is that populated but I suspect many of our passengers are arriving from further afield as Biak is one of Papua’s larger hubs that connects it to the rest of Indonesia including Makassar and Jakarta.

Cessna Caravan departing Serui whilst the Porter looks on

This route is usually served by our Cessna Caravans but it seems my company is a little short on Caravans at the moment and there are currently more passengers wanting to travel than the usual. There’s also increased competition on the route, so we have to maintain a larger presence than just one aircraft.

The competition

Whilst it’s not exactly the most interesting flying for a Porter to be doing, I am getting some amusement from listening to passenger comments and thoughts on the Porter who are rather more affluent than the usual type of customers the Porter flies around:

“Only one pilot?” – regular pax are surprised to see just one pilot compared to the two crew we use in our Caravan fleet.

“Where do I sit?” – yes those bench seats are supposed to take three people per row, so please move over sir.

“Photo mister?” – I seem to have had more requests for photos than I’ve ever had from the mountain folk.

“I call shotgun” – ok they don’t have that expression in Indonesian but the front seat does seem rather popular, probably as it offers better leg and elbow room than in the back; perhaps we should charge a premium for this relative first class seat?!

It seems some regular passengers quite enjoy the novelty of flying in a Porter whilst others seem to long for the relative comfort of the Caravan and it’s comfy leather seats. As for me, I just want to get back to the mountains!

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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1 Response

  1. Gera Souza says:

    “Bienvenido” my friend!
    Now kill my longing and makes a fantastic of those videos… flying over the island !! … I just love it!
    Big hugs!

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