Back to normality

After the last few weeks of travelling about on holiday, it’s nice to get back to the day job of flying the Porter in the mountains and jungles of Papua. It’s been great to see the reaction to the TV series whilst back in the UK even if I still can’t quite get used to the odd person recognising me whilst out and about. It was also nice to catch up with various friends and family on my travels which for me is what holidays in the UK are all about.

Meeting some fans at Colerne Airfield were I flew Bulldogs back in 1995/6

In case you didn’t catch it yet, I wrote the cover article for this month’s Flyer Magazine in which I write about why Papua, and flying the PC-6 in particular, is most certainly not the Worst Place to be a Pilot. The follow on story to this is that Flyer Magazine has signed me on as a permanent columnist; initially every other month and then each month from some time next year. Watch this space for updates!

Flyer Magazine October cover

Sadly it’s been rather quiet here in Nabire since I got back, especially as I’m sharing the base with another Porter pilot so am only working every other day. At least it’s given me plenty of time to enjoy my new toy, an inflatable kayak from Advanced Elements. Expect review of it some time in the future but initial impressions are great. It’s very stable in the water, easy to unpack and pack up again and bloody good fun. For me, exercise should be fun so between the kayak and my regular mountain biking, I should be getting pretty fit on each tour of duty in Nabire.

Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Sport Kayak off the northern Papua coast

Flying wise it’s a case of getting back into it. It always takes me a few days to get back into flying after a few weeks off and thankfully the weather here in Nabire has been great these past few days. Blue sky days certainly make that transition into the routine that little bit easier than slogging though clouds and not being able to enjoy the view.

As I’ve only done two days flying since getting back there’s not much to report other than it seems I dropped off a load of tin roofing panels to the wrong airstrip. It turns out the customer chartering the aircraft gave the load-master the wrong location so the manifest was wrong. I merely flew to the location on the manifest where upon the locals were all to happy to help unload the aircraft. So I suspect I might be heading back to Bugalaga soon to pick them up and drop them ten miles away to Pagamba where they’re supposed to be!

Pagamba airstrip, Papua

In other news, it’s looking like I’ll have to head back to Timika some time this week as we’ve taken on additional work there and now require two Porters to be based there. Hopefully it won’t be for too long as I’m only just getting settled into Nabire and the airstrips around here; it’s been a whilst since I flew the Timika routes and airstrips!

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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11 Responses

  1. Stefanus says:

    Hi Matt,

    I love the show, and miserable when I finished the fourth and final episode.

    I live in Jakarta, and I wonder why young Indonesian pilots do not choose Susi Air as a jump-start of their career as pilots?

    I watched the series with my wife and she is the kind of a person who show no interest watching documentaries, but she loves “The Worst Place to be a Pilot”… She (and I) like the interaction between the pilots and natives Papuan, they are great.

    For me, I watched the series because I love airplane, for some reason I like Porter PC6.

    So good luck flying in Papua and other parts of Indonesia. Stay safe and godspeed.

    • Matt Dearden Matt Dearden says:

      I suspect it’s because there’s not really any GA here in Indonesia so most locals will be getting trained by integrated schools and heading straight for the big jet operators and thus bypassing light aircraft. Our company tends to employ mostly expats for the pilot and engineering jobs and has the locals doing all the admin side of things. There’s plenty of local operators flying GA though and who also employ local pilots.

  2. leiafee says:

    I hope you don’t turn up there and find them already on roofs! Thoroughly enjoyed the series and the article. The strips out there make our little hillside Welsh farmstrip look a doddle!

    • Matt Dearden Matt Dearden says:

      Thanks Leia! I read your article in this month’s Flyer magazine and certainly looks like you’ve been having some good flying fun. Nice to read about an airfield in the UK being opened too! Happy landings!

  3. Hi Matt,

    I too (like everyone it seems) loved the show, couldn’t believe there were only 4 episodes!

    I’ve just passed my Canadian CPL (no ME/IR) I’m British by birth but now live in Canada. I was debating the bush flying in Botswana, but Indonesia looks AMAZING.

    I know you get asked this all the time, but some info on financials would be fantastic. My e-mail address is:
    I’d love to know whether it’s within the realms of reality to get a job over there that would help support my family (I’m a married man of 35 with two small children).
    Would it be best to get my IR over there or here do you think?

    I’m truly sorry for bugging you with questions, but your work is so inspirational I’m sure it’s just natural people want to follow in your footsteps!

    All the best, and safe landings 🙂


  4. Sadly that link does not work

  5. Air Smolik says:

    Just going through that article in the Flyer magazine! It’s a good one!

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