By Gerard R. Ward, Susan W. Serjeantson
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Additional info for And Then the Engines Stopped: Flying in Papua New Guinea
By the time we checked at the airline office it was raining steadily; in fact, the rain started to come down much more heavily from about 8 o’clock. So we waited in town near the Government Office until someone from the airline came along to pick us up, and drive us up the hill to the ‘airport’. It is really better described as an airstrip. We knew the plane was a bit late coming in, because the airline vehicle did not turn up until just before 9 o’clock, but that was not surprising given the low cloud.
No other passengers. ’ ‘This will be interesting,’ said Fred. Chimbu airstrip is one of those classic mountain strips, about a mile above sea-level, one way only, a mountain at one end and a drop into a gorge at the other. But it’s a good one. The usual light-aircraft route, as I later discovered, was ESE for ten minutes or so keeping south of the impressive slopes of Mount Kerigomna, turning half-left into the valley of the Mai River near Chuave Patrol Post, passing north of the limestone of Mount Elimbari and popping low over a tree-topped ridge into the Asaro Valley and Goroka.
I too look at the mountain. How long before we reach the point of no return? I can’t turn the knots into miles per hour in my head, nor do the divisions to work out how many miles per minute we are doing. I wonder if Blue knows about the first plane to fly through the Gap. 30 in the morning. It was coming the other way, from Mount Hagen, with more illustrious passengers than us on board. E. Williams, searching for Hides’ imagined Tarifuroro. When the • 48 • THE TARI GAP Junkers emerged through the Gap, the huge single Bristol Jupiter radial engine let out a roar that could be heard all over the countryside.
And Then the Engines Stopped: Flying in Papua New Guinea by Gerard R. Ward, Susan W. Serjeantson