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Tales of An Old Aviator .... The Big Chill

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Tales of An Old Aviator .... The Big Chill

Old 2nd Mar 2004, 10:33
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I was heading for Baimuru, on the South coast of Papua New Guinea. I was out of Goroka, in the highlands. Goroka was paradise for sure .... The Bena Bena River ran close by as it meandered down the valley which itself was 5000 feet above sea level.
Even the airport was beautiful as the wild tropical highland flowers bathed us in a sweet scent.
Ninety percent of the population still wore traditional dress ... arse grass skirts, bone in the nose and carrying spears and bows. Strange arrows though.... no flights on the shaft.. But holy mackerel, they sure went straight.

Baimuru, on the other hand, lacked the beauty but certainly had a perverse charm.

More on that later.
I fly out of the valley towards Karimui, an airstrip carved into the side of a volcano ... very familiar to me ...I buy coffee there and stock the trade store.
The mountain range ahead jags up to ten thousand feet so I stoke the Cessna 182 and get a measily nineteen inches of boost.,.. I have to make it through the pass.
The load is light .... some fresh bread and vegies for the owners of the "hotel"
Fresh bread ... sure smells nice ...I rip into the bag and feast.
The weather is always nice here ... up until two PM every day that is ...and then the massive cumulous clouds boil upwards... up to fifty thousand .. the passes become clogged and you are pooched.
AAAAHHH! The warm sun in the cockpit ... fresh air vent howling... fresh bread.
Through the pass and the thick jungle slopes plummet down onto the the jewel of Papua...Lake Kutubu... a plateau a couple of thousand feet above sea level. Then jagged limestone pinnicles stab upward through the jungle... menacing sight.
The Continental drones away... Thank God!

Descending now towards the flat South coast.
Sh#t! An overcast ahead ... better duck under.I wander off heading as I dodge rags hanging in the last of the hills. Low, I fly now... sometimes heavy rain... looks lighter over there, so I go over there. Three, maybe four hundred feet... forty five minutes to go, over a green inpenetrable canopy. Any rivers that would be an aid to navigation are overgrown with canopy ... nothing... I am alone.

There are natives down there ... somewhere .
They would be running through the jungle, scuffing up their feet ...killing supper.
Crocidiles everywhere down there.. in the many swamps buzzing with mosquitos.
The wild beauty offers little solace.... the Continental drones on.....
Around a few more heavy rain showers...sometimes East... sometimes West.
I am heading for a dot on the coast ...poor vis..nose pressed up against the glass.
Anxious ... that's what I am. Up ahead ... the coast .. whew! I have the coast.
Upon arrival at the coast, there is no Baimuru .
Do I turn left or right... back over the swamps, did I favour left of course ... or right..Dunno!
I turn right and fly East.... searching.
Decision time... fuel .. how much? Fifteen minutes East means retracing flightpath and then maybe fifteen minutes West. Thirty minutes more to what? A maybe ... maybe Baimuru ... maybe not.

A cold chill in the hot, steamy cockpit.
I look down at my chances in the swampy, croc infested jungle.

I will never make this mistake again.

On future flights, I swear I will make a POSITIVE ERROR and intentionally fly either too far East , or too far West ... it doesn't matter.
At least when I get to the coast I will know which way to turn.


But then you young'uns have GPS ... and they never fail.
The Continental droned on.

I found Baimuru , luckilly... on the fourth sweep... back and forth.

Now the adventure really starts.
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Old 2nd Mar 2004, 15:35
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The airstrip at Baimuru had a bog at one end, then a hump and a bog at the other end. I had to taxi to the only dry part on the road connecting the airstrip to the hotel .... on the banks of the river. The airplane couldn't be parked under a tree, they were too low ... a steamy green carpet ... hot ...oppresive.

Yet I was always happy to land there.

I had just flown one and a half hours over some of the most inhospitable landscape on the planet ... in a Cessna 182.
And it was downhill. Goroka was a mile above sea level, then up through the cloud choked pass at ten thousand feet then cruise descending to Lake Kutubu and down onto the flat, tangled delta jungle. Here the rivers slithered out from under the jungle canopy and fattened out into wide meandering rivers teaming with fish , snakes and crocodiles. Reddish brown in colour, these rivers met the coast in a sea of mud.

They came by the hundreds. An oily black sea of natives squeeling as they ran towards the airplane ... and the prop stopped just in time. Hundreds of pearly white smiles as wide as the Baimuru river against the black background .. wide eyed .. clear eyed.

Even so, half were sick. Malaria , dysentry, berri-berri.
Thin, hobbling... most running. Their tight, curly hair formed orbs around the happy faces.

The Kindam approached. Kindam , in their language meant crab.
He was a white chap. He was a survivor of polio and his left hand was clawlike and he walked sideways with a limp.
The only other white person was Mutt and they were partners in the hotel on the muddy banks of the Baimuru.
But the people never came .... not one.Ever.
A few of the picininnis were light colored so obviosly Mutt and the crab enjoyed some horizontal refreshment.

These were sick but peaceful people. Only two rivers over is the mighty Fly River system. Only two years prior to my being here, cannibalism was against the law . It was these Fly River tribesmen that had eaten Rockerfeller, the rich American adventurer.

From a distance, the hotel looked inviting. Palm trees , lots of green grass ... and upriver, the grass huts. It seemed like a Bogart movie.

We walk closer, kids jostling for a chance to see the sky God who flew the Balus.
There were no windows. The holes for the windows were all different sizes. It was hand built using cement and chicken wire then drowned in white paint. The plastering job on the outside looked like it was done by a drunk, one armed painter with the crabs.
It did meet the approval of the spiders, bats and snakes.
We went into the crab's office .. or living quarters .. or workshop ..what ever it was .. it fulfilled many roles.
The porters laid down the fresh bread and veggies I had brought and were shooed away by Mutt shouting "Raus .. Raus"
"Fred should be here with the barge in the morning." I was told. I shiverd in the sweaty stinking heat. "Sh*t!" thinks I. I hope they don't ask me to stay.
"Crikey! That means you'll be staying the night" offers Mutt. He motioned to the slab attatched to the wall upon which was a World War One mattress covered with a mystery substance .. that moved!

"Fred says he has heaps of Barramundi for you .. heaps. And skins too." They were excited as to the prospect of a healthy commission.

I explained that the croc skins would have to wait. I couldn't have them onboard with the fish. I had made that mistake before. But the cooks at the high end Bird of Paradise Hotel , tucked away in the highlands had passed off my fish as some sort of croc wafted Barra Delight.
The crab had already dragged his bum leg off in the direction towards the grass huts in order to procure tonights entertainment.
It did not look good.
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Old 3rd Mar 2004, 00:07
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I had to figure a way to flee.

A vignette played in my mind ... The Crab, Mutt and I , lathered in sweat, writhing and pounding away with three emaciated jungle princesses to the tune of their only eight track ..... another nightmare .

My khaki shirt hung heavilly with sweat as we negotiated the terms of a refrigeration storage fee for the tons of fish that would be stored here and then shuttled to the highland resorts until their freezers were full and then I had to scheme a load of something else.
Luckilly, this time I had about four loads of croc skins to be flown to the North coast of New Guinea. Here's how it works.

Fred, an unknown Swiss wierdo had a barge with four big outboards that plied the delta area for fish, crabs and crocs. He towed three punts behind, each with an outboard, that were used after dark for croc hunting. Three in a boat they would go along the banks with a huge spotlight ... into the darkest of dark you can imagine. The eyes light up like two flashlights ... but you don't have a clue how big it is. On the south coast, there is a size limit and I think it was thirty inches across the tender belly .. armour to armour. On the North coast, there was no limit. Perfect for a businessman like myself.
How did you know how big he is? You don't .. they all look the same in the sights.
Fred caught Barrimundi fish in his nets. He would get really p*ssed off when a sawshark would get caught in the net and the beast thrashed about with the huge saw and ruined his net. He would bring them close to the surface and shoot them with a .303 rifle and cast them adrift. Later, I experimented with selling the shark meat to the native fish shops that were identified by the swirling balls of flies.
On landing in Goroka, the ATC would often say, "Clear to land, flies are moderate today."

I excused myself from the negotiations to clear my mind. Flee ... I have to flee. I walked to the bank of the river surrounded by thirty coy, giggling children all dashing hithertoo.

I couldn't believe the good fortune that burst upon my predicament....
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Old 3rd Mar 2004, 11:12
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I looked downstream, towards the sea that, in the distance, shimmered in the dank humidity. I walked past the posts upon which the huge sawsharks were bled prior to filleting. If this wasn't done correctly the product stunk of ammonia and spoiled any other cargo aboard. A pile of croc skins soaked in formaldahide and some were salted and rolled up ready for the Asian buyers on the North Coast.

Through the shimmering heat I saw a shape rounding the point ... couldn't be! Gadzooks! It was ... it was Fred on the barge and he was a day early. I immediately started playing stupid games with the kids ... "I was outa here!" thinks I.

But wait ... my mind flashed back to the 10,000 foot pass ... It was after 1400hrs. The cumulous would be starting to plug all the holes ... you could usually watch the tops boiling upwards into the blue. Then at 1600hrs , the 50,000 foot monsters would drop their guts in tropical downpours. We were usually breasted up to the bar at this point as flying was usually over for the day.

I had to weigh the safety issue . If I got to the pass late and I had to come back, it would be dark. Black is black in the tropics and Baimuru was hard enough to find in the daytime.
I made the safest choice ... I would go flying ... the alternative was frightening.... jungle princesses , the Crab , Mutt ... I wasn't prepared to pay that price. I'll take on the weather.

It took an hour for the barge to motor upstream and soon it docked with an accompanying merriment hithertoo unimagined. The nine boys on the barge waved frantically at their equally boistrious family ashore.

A tall, gaunt scary figure towered and glowered over all around ... Fred. Dressed in jungle fatigues, thick heavilly rimmed glasses and army boots, he barked orders in pidgin, a language that I still can speak today. He said nothing to me. He never did.
The Crab came down and we inspected the hold. Four thousand pounds of whole Barramundi. And maybe four loads of croc skins. A weeks flying at least. A full load (delete "load" .. insert "overload" ) was quickly portered to the Cessna parked on the track and packed in with a tribesman holding up the tail till I climbed in .The nearest weigh scales were in Port Morsbey, two hundred miles away... Oh well!.. I hurredly started the engine with one hand whilst holding the door open to try to deflect some air. I taxied through the mud, still holding the door as I fiddled with the HF to pass my flight plan to Port Moresby. It was full radio reporting in this country .. you didn't take off till you had contact and passed a plan. The HF crackled an acknowledgement. I taxied to the bog , closed the door and opened the throttle. Bloody hot! Sweating .. eyes stinging... the aircraft went nowhere .. nearly down to the axles. I sawed back and forth on the elevator to lighten the nosewheel ....and it inched forward ... roaring .. lurching. It inched out of the bog and by the time I arrived at the hump I had a good five knots. I dragged this measilly five knots to the top and slowly accelerated downhill .. towards the other bog. HOT! Steamy! I sweated. The fresh air vent (delete "fresh" insert "stink") .. well it moaned and sucked and rattled .. it did ****** all. A final tug just before the bog and it sagged into the air ...and went nowhere .. the rough stinking air swatted me forever down. Wow! Thinks I. Am I now at the pinnicle of my three year old aviation career?

It was now uphill, all the way.

Lake Kutubu , the jewel of New Guinea was visible ahead. It was backdropped by a menacing black giant with a green tinge indicating heavy rain. I could see through the Eastern fringe .. so I flew there.

Below , the thick , tangled jungle went by far too slowly.

I thinks ... things should start to get interesting ... right about now. Crack!!!! Lightning ... turbulence.. the airplane bucks and wallows .. the vent hissing, then sucking. I am flying into rising ground.
We were well schooled at low level flying in the Army, so I angle off the slope so I am not at ninety degrees .. so I can fall off .. I have somewhere to go. I struggle up.. around another limestone pinnicle.... up to five thousand ... mountains ahead ... five thousand to go. The Continental drones on.
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Old 3rd Mar 2004, 11:59
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Yeah Duke lucky yer were working for yaself and not old Hellydore von Tshussnegg,he woulda turned ya around when ya made Hagen and sent ya back for another load

Ach..! I know ziss vether !
Old 3rd Mar 2004, 12:25
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Helly never knew what to make of me ... I know his blood pressure rose every time he saw me.

Probably because he had no control.

And tinpis : I got the name of the Lake wrong. It wasn't Lake Kutubu but the one that was smaller and on the way Karimui to Baimuru. I would like to edit my post if you could look on a map. for me.

Up! Five thousand more feet I needed.
I look at the throttle .. it's in against the panel. Kilo Romeo Bravo , my trusty but hard ridden Cessna 182 , spent most of her life with with the knob all the way in .. nineteen inches.. not a lot to claw one's way up to ten thousand.

I see the pass .. ahead and higher. The dark green bags of thunder are rolling down each side ... maybe I need ten minutes .. will it be to late? What then? The Continental drones on ....
Drat!! I'm overdue on my HF half hourly position report. The HF chatters and screaches with static .. sunspot activity thinks I ..I hear Indonesian voices too. The border is only a hundred miles or so.

I am outside the two minute grace period.

I even think I hear screaming people ... Hell! This is a lonely place.
A break in the screaming and static.. so I blurt out my position with an ETA Goroka .. an hour away yet .. yet the Continental drones on... and on ..

I decide to abandon the pass.. it's choked .. on the bottom jaw .. green jungle .. on the top ... heavy green/black bags of water. I circle up through a hole ..I now need thirteen thousand , my eyes darting always .. to the Horizon Indicator. Back outside the walls of the vortex seem closer now Circling tighter .. Hate that .. rate of climb thereby diminishes.... poof! In and out of cloud now ... at least the screaming stopped .. wierd.
Up to the blue hole.

Conjour up a pleasant thought .. I must. Because I don't like this. I am alone ..the Continental ..
I think of one week ago.
If the Continental had quit anytime over the last year, I would be dead . A forced landing in this enviroment was terminal.

My partner and I owned this small company, Chimbu Traders and we knew it was time to move up to an Aztec. We had found one in Paradise.

There was a Garden of Eden called Aiyura. Neat as a pin , an orderly mission station. It had a perfectly mown grass strip. They had about four planes and their Aztec was too small for them. Forty thousand dollars ... with a spare engine . Turbocharged too!
They were the Sumner Institute of Linguistics and their mission was to translate the seven hundred tribal languages into English and vice versa. Their vegetable gardens were a thing of beauty as was their small coffee plantation.
We had the cash. "Come pick it up Tuesday" smiles the amiable chief pilot, Doug Hunt from Canada.
I had also agreed to give back the regristration to them .. after all it was VH-SIL
I smile as I fantasize ..turbos .. my God!
Two engines .. YEEEEHAAA! The Continental droned upwards. I pop out the top into the blue and cruise to Goroka. Ah! The glory...
Over there.. what's that airplane I see .. an F27 looks like ..it comes closer .. close.. then peels away. He is IFR to Goroka.
I could see faces pressed up against the glass.. could be a friend, Captain Skinny Hawkins .. or Fatty Hawkins .. who knows.. nothing was said. I was at fourteen thousand ....this would come back to haunt me.
I landed uphill at Goroka and quickly got taxi clearance back down to Bena Bena plantation where the cargo would be unloaded and put into our walk in freezer.. Whew! Hot work.
I jumped eagerly into the Toyota four-by and went to hoist a few "Golden Throat Charmers" with my mates ...at the Bird of Paradise Hotel.
They were ashen faced .. all with a hollow look as I burst upon the scene ready to babble out my tales of Daring Doo.

The silence was deafening .........

They were mostly pilots , some coffee buyers, a plantation owner or two. There was a stewardess too... Heidi , my German girlfriend.

She had big tits.

She was here for the special event .. to pick up my Aztec on Tuesday.... We were to go down to Aiyura and complete the deal and fly her back to Goroka.

Nobody moved ... some stared into their drinks.
A plane had gone in. But who? This was happening with monotonous regularity lately.. my mind raced through my mental inventory of pilots ..
The Chief Pilot from Territory Airlines approached .. Brian McCook was uncharacteristically dignified.

"It's bad Duke...." he paused ...".VH-SIL went in today ... all seven onboard ..."
I didn't need to know who the pilot was ...Name Forgotten , the Canadian.

An icy chill shot up my spine.
The boys started to talk softly ...
It was with horror, that I let the story soak in.

"Most of us heard it Duke , on the HF, all over New Guinea."
" SIL was at ten thousand , climbing out over Nadzab , the wing caught fire ... He tried frantically to get to ground before the wing burned off .. His call on HF was backgrounded by the natives screaming in the back .. the wing burned off."

People screaming ... HF .. . back at the pass ... I had heard a nightmare.

Last edited by Duke Elegant; 3rd Mar 2004 at 13:59.
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Old 3rd Mar 2004, 15:51
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You're bringing back memories... and names!!
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Old 4th Mar 2004, 12:06
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Quite a few years later , I was on the other side of the world , wasting my day away at my home airport airport in Canada. Next to me was a young airline first officer that was in the process of leaving aviation. I told him of the story about what I'd heard on the HF radio in another far away country and the crash of the Aztec that I'd so wontanly coverted.

He asked me to stay put and went home and returned with his church news letter. It told of a Christian aircraft engineer that had sought solace in the church so that he could live with his terrible mistake when , along time ago in a foreign land, he had only hand tightened the fuel injector nozzles (or a fitting , I don't remember) during a maintaince check.

It is also sad that faulty design was apparent in that the turbochargers on a C model Aztec are at the bottom of the engine where any small fuel leak can lead to a fire. Turbochargers are better placed atop the engine as is today's practice.

I hope the engineer has since healed the gaping wound in his soul. I know the church was there for him all the way.

I forgave him many years ago.
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Old 4th Mar 2004, 17:31
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Excellent stories! Haven't read anything this good for ages! When's the book coming out?

That problem with Aztec turbochargers is familiar: had a fire once while spraying tsetse flies in Zambia caused by a fuel leak, luckily only a few minutes from home.
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Old 5th Mar 2004, 07:30
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I just looked in my logbook which shows a week of flying Cessna 182 Kilo Romeo Bravo carrying fish, sharkmeat and croc skins from Baimuru to the highlands and beyond to the North coast which was laced with sandy beaches and coral reefs , unlike the muddy Gulf of Papua region upon which Baimuru sat in the oppressive humidity.

I was twenty five and I had nineteen hundred hours.

The mystery of the F27 coming close to me over the pass near Lake Kutubu was about to reveal itself.

I bummed a ride to Lae on the coast in the sixth seat of a Beech Baron. At the last minute, I crawled in through the baggage door. The four pax were Chimbu's on their way to a Tribal Council meeting , most of which ended up with at least one of them leaking badly if they went by truck where they could carry weapons. The government flew them for free if they left weapons behind. Good plan.

Upon arrival I flashed up the Alfa Romeo and made my way to the Trans Australia Airline facility, nestled in trees a few blocks back from the beach. The crews lived in louvered Dongas which housed four, each with their own room and they shared a common bathroom. A pool surrounded by lustful tropical flowers was draped with gorgeous bronzed Air Hostesses , as they were called then. I watched them gathered their things , the bar was coming alive ......

Credence Clearwater Revival , Moody Blues ... the tunes were good in the early seventees.
I always wore my khaki army shirt that had holes where my wings once were pinned, holes where my rank was pinned... longish hair ..I meant to be set apart.

They were all airline types and little more structured than I. They flew F27 Fokkers and DC3's. Most were on six month postings from Australia but the check/training pilots were here permanently with their families.

Charm was the viscous grease with which I oiled my social life. Sure, they had some tales. I, on the other hand, had my balls hanging out over the jungle, a fertile place for tales of daring do.

I was caught up in the slipstream of the dare.

Hmmmm. I gaze about the room, already forming into small groups. My Heidi is conspicuous by her absense.

Fatty Hawkins is already entertaining some new shiellas , from Australia. If they should let their guard down , the Duke will be on them. Heidi has a month to go before exhausting her posting and is about to return to Australia..It is time to conduct interviews.

I slide between the two ... divide and conquer, I always say.
"Hey Fatty!" is my opening line,"was that you checking me out over the pass near Kutubu in the F27?"

I gaze left and downward , to the cleavage born out of a little boddice number, and right, to see two little puppies noses gently pressing through a short little cotton summer dress.

But Fatty is agitated as he grabs my arm and spirits me to a quiet corner.
"While you were in the highlands this past week Captain Seiko, that cheap little c**t, he violated you." Fatty is mad. "and Skinny was his F/O .. and Skinny couldn't do any thing about it. We all tried hinting to you on HF .. where the hell were you?"

I had missed all this .. I was up the Angoram River in a motorized log canoe .. we were looking for an Agiba, a skull rack.

"You see, Sieko was IFR and asked Madang Flight Service if they had any traffic for him. They said no so he squeeled on you. "I have a C182 at fourteen thousand , hang on a shake and I'll veer left and get his registration" Fatty relates this story as he glances furtively to the other corner .. and there he is, Capt Sieko, a check Captain who peddled cheap watches to his suborinates.. and hogged the flying from his F/O's.

Hell ! I was at fourteen thousand feet saving my arse climbing back to the highlands over some cumulous buildups.

The first urge is to bound across the room and grab the little prick by the throat ...I had to do this with aplomb and alacrity. I thinks ..and thinks ... it comes to me.
I walk slowly towards Seiko .. greeting people ... affirming my popularity ..Seiko is pontificating at some young sweatty F/O, fresh up from Australia. His eyes dart at me .. ratlike. Cornered ...
"Oh how you vex me so!" says I in a stuffy Elizabethian voice, smiling at those gathering around for the kill.
"I fail to recall , sir , when it was that a briefing prior to any formation flying was conducted. It is required , you know , by law , sir." He is stultified. I smirk for I am an asshole. There is some giggling amid a few guffaws as he scurries away.

The paperwork was stopped.

A love affair was about to blossom ...next.
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Old 6th Mar 2004, 02:48
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Yes. A love affair was indeed about to blossom.

You see I was with my girlfriend , Heidi, a luciously endowed Germanically blonde hostie. We lazed on the beach at Surfers Paradise , and on a surfboard, I dazzled nobody .. I was outdone by the expert youths of the day. I had a huge wad. Of cash that is.

At night, I showed her no mercy.

We walked into the well lit hangar right by the paint shop. It was love at first sight.

There she sat ... the buxom little Aztec ... prop spinners protruding slightly upwards ..and forward like ... well you know ...
The masking tape was being removed and the new stripes were crisp and oil free for the short term. Our company name, CHIMBU TRADERS LTD was in small letters above the door.

I had bought her over the phone... From her madam. She was an old Bush Pilot Airways plane and had been ridden hard and put away wet.

But I wiped her ... lots. I wiped the oozing lubricants from her skin ... and from the cracks....
But she had some cellulite .. she wasn't perfect ... hail dimples ...
She had been gone over by a good bush engineer as I had requested.

I paid the money . She was now my old whore in a new dress.

We flew North from Sydney along the beaches of New South Wales and into Queensland , my home state.

It was a threesome ..VH-BPW , Heidi ...and me. The light bumpy air made her tits jiggle so.

Up along the Barrier Reefs sparkling like fire opals and emerelds .. over the hundreds of miles of cattle country .. the endless sugar cane fields and still North along the jungle draped coast... and across the straight between Thursday Island and Daru , on the Southern Coast of Papua New Guinea.

Now, the rugged and wild beauty did offer solace .... I had two throaty Lycomings taking me back to a country that quickened the pulse , throbbing to the danger.

March 1972

I cruised high above the mouth of the Fly River and above Kikori too. I could see North , maybe a hundred miles or so, to the awesome spine of this rugged , but luscious country. I could just see the white speck of the Baimuru Hotel , conjouring up scenes in my mind , like a Bogart movie ... Casablanca .. African Queen ... the Crab and Mutt.

Behind me , in Australia was a career that I had left at the altar. Uniforms, rules, checklists, overnights in the same place for the thirtieth time this year...how many times would I have to sit in the right seat .. Brisbane-Sydney-Melbourne..... Melbourne- Sydney - Brisbane ... and so on .. and so on..
In the right seat .. looking left to a bored guy I didn't really like .. and then twenty years later ... left seat looking right to a boring guy I didn't really like....
I didn't want to look ahead twenty years as I had done in the Army. As a young well schooled and skilled Lieutenant, I walked into the Officers mess at lunch time. There at the bar were grumpy old Majors hunched over their drinks at the bar all sharing bulbous scotch soaked red noses .. expressionless ... they didn't like we youngin's...

Not for me ...
I had to satisfy the hunger in my soul.

The smooth , throbbing Lycomings took me to the heart and very soul of this mysterious land ... The Land Where They Turned Back Time.

Behind my left wing now, was Kikori . I had been there with Maurie Young , a mercenary Canadian art dealer and procurer for a musuem in New York or anybody else ... whoever had the dough.
Instead of me waiting in the villiage for his canoe flotilla to return bearing heaps of artifacts , he invited me along in the long thin hollowed log canoe to which was attatched a long shafted Seagull outboard.

These canoes only had a slit in which to put your feet , one behind the other .. they rolled easilly and required balance .
Up river we sped .. wakeless .. slicing through the muddy brown Kikori river .. up to a villiage rumoured to have an Agiba , a skull rack... painted and decorated skulls on a series of posts in ascending order, depending on the importance of these slain enemies the bodies of whom would have been eaten. Maurie and I were hunkered down for balance and I got an urge to stand up like our helmsmen. I wobbled drunkenly to my feet and stood at last, the stale dank air against my sweating face.
We came around a bend in the river .....

I gasped at the sight...
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Old 6th Mar 2004, 08:33
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Uniforms, rules, checklists, overnights in the same place for the thirtieth time this year...how many times would I have to sit in the right seat .. Brisbane-Sydney-Melbourne..... Melbourne- Sydney - Brisbane ... and so on .. and so on..

Mwaaaa...Duke I didnt realise you worked for Ansett?
Old 6th Mar 2004, 09:46
  #53 (permalink)  
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your spirit kept you fuelled during the dark times, I`m sure it will again.
take care you aviator

"wrong names" . . . some years ago leaving Glasgow in an Otter the sunset was so beautiful I ignored every sensible rule and started to wax lyricle on the pa - unfortunately I called Loch Lomond Loch Ness and the ensuing kerfuffle did nothing for anybodies dignity . .
Old 6th Mar 2004, 12:38
  #54 (permalink)  
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I bought a croc wallet in the reception of a good African hotel to get away from the guy really - and thought no more about it.
6 months later it was stinking like a drain - 18 months later it smelled like a leather jacket from Harrods . . . why is that ?
Old 6th Mar 2004, 13:31
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Also rounding the bend and speeding downriver was a war canoe.... the paddlers stabbing at the water to a menacing war chant ... . all in perfect unison ... they were all feathered and painted up with spears and bows across their backs .. they stood upright ... a question of balance. They too, saw a a sight. A crazy white man standing in the forward part of the canoe... arms stretched outwards like wings ... they faltered .. and looked .. only to be barked at by the coxwain .. and they returned to the rythmic chants. It was from their villiage that Maurie tried to buy their Agiba. These people frightened me... the elders held out on the Agiba but I got to see it. Maurie filled the freighter canoe with purchased artifacts and we sped downstream back to the Cessna 182.

The Aztec provided the vibrating syncronic buzz . Heidi gazed out of the starboard window and I gazed at her softly heaving bosom ... I felt a stir in my loins....

Maybe an hour out of Goroka ... abeam Karimui, where we had a trade store, and where I had made the legless man dance ....flying higher and more effortlessly than I had in the Cessna ... to Paradise. The Bird of Paradise , that is , the pub.

In this Shrine of Aviation , bullsh*t was the intellectual mainstay of the era. But I had a new whore and I was proud.

The next two years of flying were spectacular ... dipping down into the mouth of the extinct volcano on Lab Lab island , flying down a chain of islands , strung like pearls , down to the Solomons .. and Guadacanal , a scene from World War II where we explored wreckages of Hellcats , Corsairs , zeros and half submerged landing craft , peppered with bullet holes.
Wow! A TBM Avenger ...one day I would fly one of these.

Heidi had returned to Australia leaving me in despair.

Well ... not for long...

I smuggled dogs , chicken eggs and of course , croc skins. The dog smuggling had earned a new knickname for the old Aztec , Bravo Papa Woof.
Most of the hosties at the mess knew of my deeds , I told them so. I traded tales of daring doo for passionate interludes.

But one day, I saw a vision.

I had been summoned to the airport by the Operations Manager of Territory Airlines , and, says he "You won't believe what you will see."

She strolled the lawn at the terminal ... in a silky dress flowing like a watercolour in the rain .. but you could see through it .. just enough. And a flower in her hair .. a backpack .. and a smile. The cautious but gathering crowd of natives could see through the dress too ... and I sensed danger ... she had to be saved .. and Gadzooks!!! .. the Duke was for once in the right place at the right time.
"You can't stay here." says I, as I dare to touch this flowering Goddess on the arm to lead her away to my Land Rover."Where are you from?" I ask .. gulping as I catch a glimpse of a nipple perched at the end of a shapely little brown ski-jump shaped breast... "The Year of The Cat" she whispers .. a brown leg escaping through a slit in the Thai-dyed hippie dress, as she glides into the Land Rover.

"Come with me , child." says the Duke.
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Old 6th Mar 2004, 13:59
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Har har har....you .....you... FORNICATOR !
Old 6th Mar 2004, 14:28
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You woulda too tinpis.

You have in your possession a picture of this Godess I believe.

On top of the Daulo Pass.

I sit here with a picture of Baby Jane in my hands. Baby Jane .. at least I had revealed her name. I had learned some of her language too , like "far out" and "coool."

I did not, however , find out the location of the planet from which she came.

The picture shows us at the summit of the Daulo Pass , a very dangerous place to be but this flower child was oblivious to the stares of the Chimbu warriors. She waved flowers at them all with a large dimpled smile that would make a strong man lose his mind.

She may have been a "toad licker" from Kuranda. They were a group of hippies that discovered that by licking the poisonous glands on the back of a toad , interplanetary travel became possible , and cheap too.

Here comes the missus ... gotta cover me tracks .. . and hide the picture ... drives her nuts catching me with my old piccies.
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Old 6th Mar 2004, 14:31
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. . taking the piss plainly, but the sex I`m really not sure about . . . suspect female but shaves occasionaly ?
Old 6th Mar 2004, 17:12
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Over 1000 posts and I bought this Personal Title to try and tell my mother the embarrassing news that I am a closet Jazz fan.
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Great stories dude.

Hope George McDonald Fraser dosn't sue when you're published.

All the best....
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Old 7th Mar 2004, 05:48
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I had learned the Rules of Business very quickly in New Guinea.

1. Winner takes all
2. Every man for himself
3. Spend big when you have heaps ....

So I did ....and I learned how to deal the Jack from the back of the pack. But there were times that bought you down to earth .. and back in time.

The biggest event of the year was the Goroka Sing Sing. They came by the thousands, some walking for a week from remote villages. It was a four day walk up to 8000 feet just to cross the Daulo Pass. It was a four hour drive to cross, and , as my log book shows , a thirteen minute flight from Goroka to Kundiwa.
They came to compete for the prize , a herd of cattle.

It was an event that drummed into your soul ..never to be forgotten.

We whiteys were outnumbered one hundred to one. We did not fear these people for the most part as they could hardly unite to overthrow the government because the seven hundred tribes were small and didn't like each other.

They took up to a day to prepare ... spectacular Bird of Paradise head - dresses. The Whagi wigmen adorned in their human hair anvil shaped wigs and carved bone nose pieces... the Asaro mud men , in their oversize , white mud helmets and pasted with a mixtute of white ash and mud .. and the Kuku Kuku s .. they were small bark cloaked warriors ... the most feared of all.

All the women struggled about with heavy loads in their Bilum bags on their swayed backs , supported by the forehead. Loads of kids, sweet potatos and pigs to trade , or eat on the road to the show.

And what a show it was.

We sat in the makeshift bleachers with the local constabulary close at hand. They were there not to protect us .. they were scared.

Shrill postmen's whistles gather a tribe for their turn for the dance past the judges ... amid shouts and chants of excitement. They shuffled into lines of maybe ten and held the long bamboo poles to keep the lines spaced. Ten rows ... all identically adorned and painted in their tribal markings. The drumming started , the war chants sent the shiver up my spine .. a warm shiver .

They approach .. pounding the snakeskin kundu drums .. earth trembling as they drive their feet into the ground when orchestrated to do so. Dust rising , except where the patches of blood red betel nut had been spat ... like blood .. everywhere.
With the unison of a choir their voices rise up to a crescendo then down to imitate the drumbeats .. pounding .. a hundred warriors only feet away ..spears , bows and arrows .. I can smell them now .. not unpleasant ... a pig grease and smoke mixture. Two pounding steps forward , one back ..they are in a trance ... so am I.

Then came the Kainantu's and the Bena Benas and the tribe from Bhundi and Marawaka .. and the Chimbus..

We lived a luxurious lifestyle. Lobsters , fish and fresh produce , mostly free. Exotic cars and a change of girlfriend every six months as the flight attendants rotated through the New Guinea adventure. Often we would get ten or so flighties to deadhead to Goroka from Lae and float down the Bena Bena river on rafts made of lashed inner tubes, through the villiages , to a BBQ already set up by our house boys downstream at the waterfall.
OOOOH! How moist they got.

I witnessed tribal fights and marriage feasts where 200 pigs were slaughtered with glee. Trips up to Angoram where people lived in grass houses perched on stilts out over the river...

Once we chartered a DC3 and filled 'er up with hosties and a jazz band and went to a plantation Ball .. the band entertained us enroute.

But a dark political cloud loomed on the horizon. They were to be given independance and ALL companies had to have "native participation". The red necks called the natives rock apes which I found to be offensive. If I was to have a partner , he was to be my "branch manager".
The feds were closing in on me too ... it was time to flee.

I will never forget the day of my departure .. to South Africa .. or Canada .. somewhere where flying was still an adventure.
I drove a friends Land Rover to the airport. Coming the other peddalling fast on his bike was my houseboy , Bin.
As soon as he saw it was me he bailed from the bike leaving it to crash into the market ..
he wailed and cried. I quickly took off my watch and gave it to him .. I would miss him dearly. He had taught the language to me.

I settled into my seat on the F27 after a hearty send-off from my friends. Next to me was a Bena Bena girl. She wore a Meri dress and I saw her blue tribal markings fanning back from her eyes to her tight curly hairline. I waved at my friends , then turned to her.
"Yupella go long bigpella harp long balus long Port Moresby?" I had asked if she was going to Port Moresby on this plane. I waited for her Pidgin reply.
"No actually," she said in well bred perfect English, "I am going to Melbourne, back to Monash University." She flashed a large pearly smile to difuse my indiscretion.

We chatted excitedly as Meg Taylor informed me of her intention, to become a lawyer.

Years later her picture appeared on the cover of National Geographic , playing polo. She was New Guinea's first woman lawyer.
And later yet. I was flying a Turbo Beaver for a logging company in Canada that was to get a visit from New Guinea's US Ambassador.. Meg Taylor.

I left that land astern.
The Country Where They Turned Back Time.
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