By Gerard R. Ward, Susan W. Serjeantson
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Additional resources for And Then the Engines Stopped: Flying in Papua New Guinea
For us the morning’s flight had been rewarding. Our usually toothless Tiger had displayed a small tooth. Later we learnt that questions had been asked in the Australian Parliament of the Minister of Civil Aviation, the Hon. sL. Anthony, whether there was any truth in the rumour that a Japanese fishing trawler had been arrested while fishing within the 12-mile limit, by the crew of a Departmental biplane who had brandished a weapon. The Minister responded that the matter was being pursued through diplomatic channels and he declined to elaborate.
Gradually, almost imperceptibly, the plane lifted. I watched the undercarriage and wheel 1 People on board. • 46 • THE TARI GAP below me. They fell and rose and the wheel spun and slowed and spun once more, as it skimmed along the gravel-surfaced runway. ‘Come on,’ urged Blue. The end of the runway was about 200 metres way and approaching far too quickly for my liking. Blue spun the large black trim control wheel beside his leg. I lifted my boots off the floor. The end of the strip disappeared beneath the plane.
The pilot clambered down, stumbled to the rear compartment and began dragging out the cargo. ‘Enjoy your climb,’ he said. ’ After we hired guides and began our ascent to the little grass resthouse whence we would climb to the summit of Mount Wilhelm the following morning, John said: ‘I hope I never again have the joy of being piloted by a drunk. He reeked of beer. I couldn’t help but smell it, sitting next to him. ’ • 34 • WHERE’S THE BLOODY STRIP? Later, when we came down the mountain again to Kegsugl, we decided there was nothing more constructive two geographers could do than to continue their earthbound walk all the way down the valley back to Kundiawa.