The worst cruelty that can be inflicted on a human being is isolation. – Sukarno
Isolation is a self-defeating dream. – Carlos Salinas de Gortari
While serving on a project in Sentani, Indonesia I was given the opportunity to fly into the interior of Papua where people have lived for longer than recorded history. These folks have lived, for various reasons, in remote and isolated locations. One of the villages I visited was Langda.
Langda, represented by the green airplane on the map, is located at 6,100 ft in the mountains, approximately 160 NM south of Sentani. It is 41 NM west of Oskibil, the nearest town. A 15 minute flight but several days by foot. There are no roads. The 16-34 airstrip is unpaved measuring 1,463 x 79 ft (446 x 24 m) on the crest of a mountain. It opened in 1974 and serves the community as its main street. Their only street.
“I know the excitement the sound of these planes will generate in places with names like Kiwi, Bomela, Langda, and Koropun,” said Dave Rask, MAF’s director of Aviation Resources. “These are places that have never seen a car. Places so remote that the only way to reach them is a long trek through the jungle, or by plane. In these areas, the missionaries, the medicines, books, Bibles … even the nails for the buildings and the aluminum for the roofs are delivered by MAF.”
Although I was in Sentani working with MAF, this flight was with Yajasi Aviation, the flying arm of a language translation group. There are several flying missions on the tarmac at Sentani and although they each have their specific mission domain, there is a great deal of cooperation among the organizations.
MAF was not scheduled for a flight to any small villages which allowed passengers, during my stay. So they arranged this trip. I was glad for the opportunity, not just to go to the village, but to chat with the pilot, Brad, and get a perspective and history from another missions group…..and for a bit of stick time in a PC-6!
Langda, The Village
There is a lot of history in this place of which I only know snippets. I know a Dutch family that spent several decades living in this village. Their work provided this people group a written language in their own tongue, a complete Bible, and other materials translated into that language with a large portion of the village now able to read. There is now also a school, church, and community center.
The Dutch family’s house is still there, but they no longer live there full-time. Locals run the village, school, and church. One son of the missionary family grew up in Landga. He considers this his hometown, although he and his family now serve MAF in Wamena as pilot/mechanic.
I was only on-site for an hour so any impressions I have are barely a snapshot. This is not a bad life, but it, in my view would be a difficult one. The view, however, is breathtaking and the air is crisp and clear. This I do know: were it not for this airstrip life would be even harder, more dangerous, and choices fewer for these people.
The embedded video is my amateur documentation of the flight and the landing.
Please provide your impressions in the comments below. Are there questions? I will respond as best I can.