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The 9 Shocking Realities Of Flying In Papua, Indonesia

Pilot Matt Dearden flies in some of the harshest conditions that any pilot can experience. These are the shocking realities of his job.

1) Many Papuans didn't make contact with the outside world until roughly 50 years ago

Matt Dearden

2) One of the routes that Matt flies is the shortest commercial flight in the world, totaling 73 seconds!

3) Passenger flights with native Papuans are often subsidized by the government.

4) Within 30 minutes of taking off from Nabire, Indonesia, you find villages that have little contact with the outside world.

5) More than 700 living languages are spoken in Indonesia. Tribes even just a few miles away from each other in Papua can speak completely different languages.

6) Pilots have to be careful not to contract malaria or dengue fever, diseases that can cause you to lose your medical certificate.

7) Mountain airstrips in Papua are often extremely treacherous. It's not uncommon to have a village runway like this: (To see the featured airport, play the video below and watch through 8:58).

8) Imagine 50 people fighting for 7 seats on an airplane. Pilots often act as mediators when villagers fight over who gets to board the aircraft. Matt says disagreements like these happen on a weekly basis.

9) Susi Air pilots in Papua usually stop flying by 2pm. Even though Papua is equatorial and doesn't get fronts, the sun still heats up the mountains, producing winds that come up the valleys. Since most of the airstrips are oriented with an uphill landing, you'd be landing with tailwinds later in the day.

Make sure you check out Matt's career story here.

Swayne Martin

Swayne is an editor at Boldmethod, certified flight instructor, and an Embraer 145 First Officer for a regional airline. He graduated as an aviation major from the University of North Dakota in 2018, holds a PIC Type Rating for Cessna Citation Jets (CE-525), and is a former pilot for Mokulele Airlines. He's the author of articles, quizzes and lists on Boldmethod every week. You can reach Swayne at, and follow his flying adventures on his YouTube Channel.

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