I only discovered Samantha on Instagram recently and then, BOOM, I found out she was coming into the little airport I operate mainly out of, Rendani Manokwari.
Flying in Papua is not for the fainthearted! Samantha manages to show another aspect to being a pilot in Papua with her Instagram, where she shows her interactions with the people she flies. Her number one memory of flying is quite the eye opener. Definitely worth having a read.
What would be your number one piece of advice for an aspiring bush pilot starting out in the industry?
It’s worth it. – Don’t give up. Great things take time.
Flight training that requires many exams and flight tests is difficult for anyone. If you have the mind that you will not give up, someday you will find yourself enjoying the adventure and experience of the jungle. And you will think. That was absolutely worth it.
What was the route you took to becoming the bush pilot you are today?
After a completion of my CPL studies, I worked as a flight instructor. It didn’t take long to realise the job wasn’t really for me. Long story short, I got a single-engine job as a bush pilot in Western Australia, flying in and out from small villages of Aboriginal Australians.
It was not easy to fly in hot, humid, and fast changing weather, but it was absolutely rewarding. Most importantly, I was able to experience the beauty of bush flight.
I wanted to see the bigger world, and in that sense Susi Air could give me more experience and opportunities in Indonesia. Based on my previous experience in bush in Australia, Susi Air was happy to accept me as a First officer.
What would you say is the hardest thing about being a bush pilot?
The hardest thing I think of, is working in challenging weather. When I was working in bush in Australia, I had to fly at temperatures above 40 degrees in the wet season. That was only outside temperature! It could go up to 60 degrees, in the plane. Indonesia and Papua also have an easy temperature above 30 degrees by 8 in the morning. If not, earlier. In certain weather seasons, mountain winds can make it difficult to fly.
We have wind curfews in certain airports. During the days, we have TS and CBs develop over mountains which affecting our flight operations.
How did you manage to get the job you’re currently at?
I was invited for an interview from Susi Air shortly after I sent my resume through. The whole interview process took three days in Indonesia. On the first day, I did an aptitude test on a computer which was quite interesting. On the second day, I had a sim test to fly a couple of IFR approaches. The last day was an interview. The interviewers were interested in the bush flying I did in Australia, and also asked a lot of questions in a decision making process.
What has been your number one memory about flying?
A Flight from one mid-size town to small village in Papua. We had one military uniformed guy on board. Just after landing and shutdown, this military guy opened the door from inside and went running towards one of the locals, pulling out his knife in the air (knife was not reported or seen by flight crew when boarding)
All the passengers got scared and still on their seats with all this situation happening, people around the apron moving away from the military guy that got stopped by one of the locals and another military colleague. The fight broke loose between these three people and the guy with a knife got subjugated by the other two.
-Bush flying is not always safe, not only the flying but also lots of things that can happen during ground operations.
If you want to see our last interview with a Bush Pilot that flies in Papua for MAF, click here