We break for the airport before breakfast in the hopes of making headway with our avgas dilemma. After packing up the plane, Patrick arrives and says he's called a friend "who knows how to get things" across the boarder in Indonesia. I should drive with him to pay this guy a visit at his house. Interesting. This was going to be good, so off I went. In the front seat of the car is a baseball bat. The whole last 24 hours were straight out of a movie.
Patrick’s friend lived in a nice house with plenty of pictures of his newborn daughter and an amazing view of the Pacific from a massive deck
By this time some of the jet fuel crews were getting ready to depart. We decide that Johannes would take our collapsible fuel tank, Big Bertha, to Tari with the Brüning crew in their King Air. From there he could either get rumored avgas in Tari or in Wiwek, the town 150 NM east of Vanimo. Jan had said he would fly to Wiwek if need be, or even easier fly back to Vanimo from Tari if we were able to procure the avgas in Tari. It was my job to hang back in Vanimo and stay on the phone to find out where, and for what price, we could get avgas.
One by one the turboprops left until I was the only person left
It was early afternoon before Johannes and Jan arrived back with 55 gallons of avgas in Big Bertha. We transferred the fuel into jerry cans and then filtered it in to Maggie. It was a slow process in intense heat, and by the time we were done we were dripping with sweat
With time of the essence we started Maggie with her now-faithful car batteries in the back seat and were off. There was a line of clouds we did the best we could to avoid and then continued for the 1,5 hour flight to Tari. 100 miles ahead we could already see a giant anvil thundercloud like out of a textbook. The stormscope was also showing lots of lightning at our 11 o’clock position about 100-150 miles out. That was just to the east of where we needed to land. This was going to get interesting ;-)
Jan, in the faster Cheyenne, took off after us but was a good 15 minutes ahead by the time we approached Tari
We’d made it!
As soon as we parked along with the other 8 turboprops, we filled up with the second tank of avgas
We arrived at Ambua Lodge, literally in the middle of nowhere, smiling, proud, and ready for a cold beer. The others greeted us excitedly and were happy we’d made it. Some of them had just come back from a rain forest tour where they got drenched to the bone, so maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing that we were delayed.
I hadn’t felt that level of relief and accomplishment on this trip since Attu & our Pacific crossing. It was a crazy 24 hours filled with lots of angst and anxiety. Thanks to Jan’s willingness to help and our efforts to divide and conquer we’d made it out of Tari and to the relative (if not absurdly over-priced) comforts of the Ambua Lodge.
Praying for avgas & into the bush
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Tari, Papua New Guinea