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Jungle Maintenance

26/04/2009

Never a good thing when you hop out of the aircraft and there is oil strewn all down the left side of the aircraft. The hope in that situation is that maybe you left the oil cap off. Unfortunately yesterday we weren’t as lucky as the oil cap was nice and secure but we had lost over a quart (946ml) of oil.

So here we were stuck in Oksibil (an hours flight from Sentani) in the mountains. The Captain got on the phone to let the base know and sort out getting some engineers out to us. Another of our aircraft was south of us and when they flew overhead we got on the radio and let them know the situation, with pleas of ‘get us out of here’.

Thankfully I always take my iPod with me in my flight bag and the Captain had brought along some magazines so we were able to keep ourselves occupied for a while. We got a bit peckish after a while so walked up the road to a Cafe to get some Nasi Goreng. Being in the mountains prices are a bit inflated and it was Rp40,000! Which is NZ$6.50, but it filled a gap.

Yay for Air Support

Yay for Air Support

4 hours later and not a moment too soon

4 hours later and not a moment too soon

So after 4 hours we switch the radio back on and our Air Support is on the way so we give them a weather report and 5 minutes later they are rolling out on runway 11 at Oksibil. The Engineers hop out and can see the problem right away and say should be all good in 2 hours! The A/C on this particular aircraft has been disabled for a while and they had done it by removing the drive belt that connects the A/C compressor to the accessory gearbox on the engine. But for some reason a seal had decided to give way, so they pulled off the whole unit tied up the hoses and fashioned a gasket and plate to seal off the offending area. 

2 hours later we were on the runway doing an engine run then shutdown to check everything had held which it had and then lined back up on the runway. After spending 6 whole hours on the ground in Oksibil we were finally headed back to Sentani. We were incredibly lucky the weather had held all the time, so often the weather in Oksibil closes in after lunch and its all over for the day.

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