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No Not Again!

27/04/2009

Oh yes, after having a day off I got up at 6am this morning ready for what was going to be a nice full day of flying. But alas, it was not to be. After landing in Mulia I heard the Captain say ‘oh no’ s0 I walked around and there is a lovely streak of oil down the side of the aircraft. It appears that maybe I might be bad luck.

It turns out the only cellular network available in Mulia was out of service, but thankfully we have our own Satellite phone system – Not. It is fantastic, when it works but with us it seems to be rather problematic. We tried to call numerous people using the satellite phone function of the unit including the CEO and Chief Pilot but to no avail.

There is it seems never a shortage of helpful or willing to be helpful people in Indonesia and a local guy who worked for an NGO and spoke very good english soon presented himself. We told him our sat phone wasn’t working so he went out to find a portable unit from someone. A while later he returned successful, presenting us with a portable Iridium phone. We managed to contact the Assistant Base Manager and let her know our problems.

It would of course take a while to collect the engineers and finish what  they were working on and then fly out to us so the Captain and I had some time on our hands. Another friendly local who had been talking to us earlier offered to take us to a cafe seeing it was approaching lunch time. Like Oksibil the other day it was the first time we had actually been into the town of the airport we so regularly fly into.

The Cafe we ate it is just before the big red-roofed building

The Cafe we ate at is just before the big red-roofed building

Traditional huts

Traditional huts

Looking east in Mulia, market to the left

Looking east in Mulia, market to the left

By about 2pm I was starting to get a bit annoyed that we still hadn’t heard our air support fly overhead. That and the iPod battery was starting to get precariously low. But at about 2.30pm we flicked on the radio and they were calling a base leg with Mulia Radio.

Air Support

Our Air Support on final for Mulia

The engineers came over and had a look and after a bit of poking around decided that the problem was not serious and probably just a case of oil spillage on the bottom of the engine cowl combined with normal seepage from the A/C compressor assembly. Right, so we had spent all that time in Mulia for nothing essentially. But in Papua especially it really is better to be safe than sorry. The brief for an engine failure after take-off is to go for the second valley to the right after the runway. It would not be pretty.

So we closed up and got ready to finally depart for Sentani. Despite it being a completely wasted day we did learn some interesting things – we can’t put our faith in the Satellite phone networks, in Mulia Coca-Cola 250ml cans cost Rp15,000 (NZ$2.45) and fuel costs Rp40,000-500,000 (NZ$6.50-8.15) a litre! (no wonder they turn the scooters off going downhill).

On the way home we managed to get over 200 knots ground speed in the decent – life is pretty good!

Smokin'

Smokin'

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