Today, we left the Karawari Lodge for Rondon Ridge in Mount Hagen. We started the day off by packing up our bags and walking down to the main building to get breakfast. After we ate, we all piled into a van to head down to the dock. It had rained the night before, so the roads were super muddy and the car almost got stuck. We all piled out of the car and got on the boat with our luggage on it. We drove the same drive as we did on the way from the airport. We got off and saw a huge pack of kids waiting for us at the muddy airport dock.
We walked down a path that was covered in mud so we had to parkour around a ton of the path. We got to the grass airstrip just in time to see our plane land. Similar to the P2-BOB, this plane was the P2-TNT. I doubted that the pilot’s name was TNT, although I had already known his name was Matt, because we had already met him at breakfast the day earlier. He is an awesome guy from New Zealand.
Before we piled in, I got up on the wing and we did a lacrosse video with tons of little local kids swarming the scene. We were all about to climb in, but then Matt asked if anyone wanted to sit in the cockpit as copilot, so I volunteered.
We all got in, and Matt told me about what some of the buttons did, and what some of the gauges were for. We took off and then Matt told me how to fly it, so while he filled out some paperwork about the flight, I took control of the plane! I tested out the joystick, turning right, left, up and down. I also got to talk to the air control tower at Mount Hagen, letting them know that we would land there and what our coordinates were and how far we were away from the airport and elapsed flight time: “This is P2-Tango-November-Tango (P2 TNT), we are twenty miles out over airport YKK. All clear for landing?”
When Matt was done filling out the paperwork, he took control again, and told me about what some levers did and why there were certain numbers on the dashboard, like the altimeter, the fuel gauge, ground speed, compass, fuel pressure. I also learned about thrust, torque, lift and the physics of flying. When we got near the airport, he let me put the landing gear down and open up the flaps that would slow the plane down. He and I both used the joystick to land. Then, when we touched down, I got to cool the engines and turn the propellers off. I had a great time learning to be a pilot.
Note to Matt: Thank you so much for teaching me how to fly the plane and for letting me sit in the cockpit. You are an awesome pilot, and I enjoyed being your co-pilot.
Here’s a video my dad made of some of our flights: