Over the past two months the maintenance team and I have been working very hard to keep our services operational. Only one of our three helicopters was flying and it had only a handful of starts left before the engine cycled out and would need changing.
After three years of preparation, training and many tests, Maichel, a young pilot from Papua, was finally ready. Just three weeks ago we completed the so-called type rating for our helicopter with him. And now it was time for his first real mission.
To avoid long flights over water I planned to cross the Mediterranean at the Strait of Gibraltar, but because of the military no-go area I had to turn aside much sooner and aim for Morocco. I needed all my courage for the long flight over water.
Ernie Tanner experienced a dangerous emergency landing during the drought in the south of Ethiopia in 1985. Together with General Mobratu, Governor of the Province of Gemu Gofa and a good friend of his, he had the task of inspecting the state of health of the people in certain areas of the country.
Since the town of Wamena in the highlands of Papua can only be reached by air, all the fuel has to be flown in by cargo plane. In Wamena this is organized for us by a third party, but it gets more complicated when the fuel is needed in remote places in the bush.