Mount Tawa is a remote village on a mountain ridge surrounded by miles of jungle.
MAF was radioed to pick up a patient to be flown to the hospital in Mt. Hagen. Mathias Glass, a pilot from Germany, had actually planned a different flight program for today. The flight program was changed at short notice. Mathis asked me if I wanted to come along to experience a Medevac flight. Of course, I said "yes". About half an hour later we were in the air and flew over the endless expanses of PNG. A beautiful landscape. From the air, I realize how difficult it is to access many parts of Papua New Guinea. Every time I have the chance to fly on a MAF flight I ask myself how people can live in these remote villages.
MAF classifies all airstrips into categories according to their difficulty. Class "A" landing strips are long asphalt or grass runways that can be approached from both sides depending on the wind. Class "D" strips are short and steep one-way airstrips. At a certain point in the approach, the landing cannot be aborted. The pilot commits to land, otherwise the aircraft would not gain enough speed and climbing power to avoid the hill. In the same direction from which an airstrip is approached, the plane needs to take off again. Mathias, who has been flying for 15 years in PNG for MAF, masters the landing without any problems. (The best comes at the end of the video)
When a MAF aircraft lands at a remote location, the whole village usually gathers at the airstrip. As soon as the propeller stops, the plane is surrounded by people. We unload a stretcher so that the injured person can be carried from the village to the plane. On the walk, a teenager proudly tells me that they have a primary school in the village. I ask him how far it is to the nearest secondary school. He tells me that he has to walk one day to the next village, then stay overnight and walk another day. The few children who attend secondary school often live with relatives in the village where there is a secondary school and only go back to their parents during school vacations.
The injured man is loaded onto the plane with a combined effort. Mathias, the pilot, registers the name and weight of the injured person and his companions. The money for the flight is collected and the luggage is weighed and well stowed. It is important to have the weight correctly calculated and well distributed in the airplane to have the center of gravity of the airplane close to the middle. Another reason is to make sure the plane is not overloaded on these bumpy runways. After everyone has boarded, Mathias instructs the passengers, does a check walk around the aircraft and also boards. Mathias prepares for takeoff, starts the plane, and the propeller hums. The thrust lever all the way forward, the plane starts to move, it bumps and shakes and soon we take off and fly over many ridges back to Mount Hagen.