They said Papua New Guinea wasn't a place for the faint hearted, the "Land Of The Unexpected" and they were not wrong. I arrived in country with 1000 hours and I thought having come from the Southern Alps of New Zealand I knew it all! It is amazing how wrong one can be..... I knew nothing and having spent the last three years here am still learning so much every day.
I gained my CPL in NZ in 2002 and then flew in the Northern Territory, Australia until I had the magic 1000 hours normally required to start with companies in PNG which was when I made the big move north. I am currently flying with Hevilift PNG on The Twin Otter as an f/o. Hevilift primarily services the mining and petrochemical companies in country. As a result our bases in PNG are mainly located in mine sites. As an f/0 we do three months on and one month off while the captains normally do month on month off. Living conditions vary from base to base but generally are of a good standard with everything paid for while you are in the country.
The flying also varies greatly depending on the base you are at; which changes about every two weeks. In Tabubil near the Indonesian border you are often flying in the Highlands where mountain peaks can be up to 14,000 feet and air strips up at to 8,000 feet ASL. Some strips can have a gradient of up to 18%, obviously one way and as short as 320 meters! On the other hand you can be based in The Solomons or Lihir and are flying between islands all day on to sealed runways capable of handling a medium jet.
All in all it has been a great three years here in "Paradise". If you ever get the opportunity in your early days or even later on to fly in New Guinea I would highly recommend it it.
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