This story is to jog the memory of all the old PNG pilots who will never forget Siwea.
It is also for all the arriving passengers who, during the final landing approach (when most of the airfield disappeared from view because of a steep uphill landing threshhold) were terrified and thought they were going to die.
Departing passengers too, whilst falling over the edge and dropping down into the Tewae gorge to gain flying speed with the Cessna stall-warning horn blaring, were also tricked into thinking that the future looked rather bleak.
To my knowledge the only person who ever did die in an aviation-related accident at Siwea was a pedestrian who was struck by the propeller of a landing aircraft.
The Siwea ‘strip was constructed circa 1970 by villagers using shovels to dig back into the mountain. It was 1500 feet in length at almost 6000 feet altitude which severely limited the performance of most light aircraft. The ‘runway’ surface was nominally grass but often just mud, and the airstrip provided an outlet for smallholder-grown arabica coffee, strawberries, onions and other fruit and vegetables.
Siwea was, in 2011, no longer an operational airfield.
(Photographs taken by Mrs GOF, 2011)