Papua New Guinea’s longest-serving pilot retires after 45 years



Papua New Guinea and Air Niugini’s longest-serving pilot, who is also the country’s first pilot-in-command, Captain Paun Nonggor-r retired today (Wednesday June 30, 2021 ) after 45 years and 21,000 hours in the air.

Captain Nonggor-r

From inside the cockpit, Captain Nonggor-r saw Air Niugini go from a few DC3s and F27s in a domestic operation to a major regional airline with flights to Australia, Asia and the Pacific. Now, after four and a half decades, Air Niugini’s number one pilot has finally hung up his stripes.

Captain Nonggor-r made his final flight, the PX 004 from Brisbane to Jackson International Airport in Port Moresby this afternoon, arriving at 2 p.m. for a traditional wash or salute to the water to mark his last flight and his retirement from flight duties.

He said: “My flying duties on the larger ANG aircraft end after 45 years. I am mentally prepared for this eventuality.

“I am the product of the vision of the late Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare in 1975. Somare wanted Papua New Guinea to be pilots and professionals in their own country and I was so happy to be a part of that vision. , helped by the Australians. I was the first National to leave the neighborhood and I stayed with Air Niugini instead of going abroad for more money.

Originally from the Ramdi tribe of the village of Koepka in the West Highlands province, Captain Nonggor-r was first appointed captain of the Fokker Friendship (F27) in 1982 at the age of 26 after Minson Peni from New Ireland.

In 1983, Captain Nonggor-r became the first Papua New Guinea to command an airliner, the F28. From there, he progressed to international wide-body aircraft, the Airbus 300, the Airbus 310 and then the Boeing 767. He has been on international routes aboard wide-body planes since 1985, totaling 37 years.

Captain Nonggor-r

Captain Nonggor-r attended NASA Flight School in Cessnock, New South Wales, north of Sydney, Australia, in January 1975, where he also celebrated Papua New Independence Day. -Guinea eight months later, in September. In June 1976, he obtained his first commercial pilot’s license and returned to PNG and Air Niugini where he was assigned to the F27 as first officer (FO)

“In July 1978, I returned to Cessnock for training as an instructor pilot. After graduating as a trainer pilot, I taught Australian student pilots at Cessnock, then returned to PNG and worked at Douglas Airways, which was still on secondment from Air Niugini, to accumulate my hours. flight. After gaining the necessary hours required, I returned to Air Niugini and to the F27 plane, “Nonggor-r said.

In 1982, at the age of 26, Nonggor-r was the second Papua New Guinea to become a captain on the F27. A year later, in 1983, he assumed command on the F28, becoming Papua New Guinea’s first Jet Captain.

“I consider this the biggest achievement / highlight of my career, becoming the country’s first F28 jet captain at a very young age.” Nonggor-r said.

Captain Nonggor-r recalled that flying the F27s and F28s was a challenge as they were analog aircraft that required a lot of thought, planning and skill.

He said: “The PNG being mountainous with localized weather conditions it can be difficult, however, it was fun, exciting and I enjoyed the thrill of being in the cockpit”,

washing of planes flown by the retired pilot

In 1985, Captain Nonggor-r began flying the widebody aircraft, starting with the iconic Airbus A300 “Big Bird” for four years before operating the A310, then the Boeing 767 where he obtained his command as a full pilot. Captain of B767 in 2003. He has been a Boeing pilot for 19 years.

“Although it can be stressful at times, it is a very disciplined and regulated profession. The secret that has kept me flying for all these years is the fun and the passion for the job.

“International flying on larger planes, going to many places around the world, allows you to discover and learn a lot about what’s going on there and how the rest of the world works. This type of practical experience is superior to academics.

In addition to flying, Captain Nonggor-r held the post of Director General of Flight Operations, responsible for the management of pilots, cabin crew, flight operations control and others.

So much has happened in his 45-year flying career, but Air Niugini’s longest-serving pilot recalled two particular events that come to mind, including the attempt to land at the airport. from Sydney in windshear conditions where the landing was abandoned and the flight diverted to Brisbane, and the recent hijacking of an aircraft to Manila only after the first officer felt ill.

He said: “Successfully handling situations like these is the result of good training, coupled with pilot / crew experience. There is only one way to fly an airplane and that is by strictly adhering to the rules and procedures / processes that our Australian friends have taught us.

You need to maintain high training and standards – if you let them deteriorate, it could eventually lead to accidents. There is no PNG way to fly an airplane – rules and procedures must be followed at all times. “

Captain Nonggor-r’s advice to aspiring young Papua New Guinea who wish to someday become a pilot is discipline and hard work.

“Any average young Papua New Guinea can be a successful pilot as long as they’re willing to put in the time and effort. Not just to become a pilot, but continued dedication and discipline to stay that way. “

He further encouraged parents to support their children’s educational aspirations and dreams by giving them time and attention.

“Parents are ultimately responsible for the education of good and capable children. ” He said

Captain Nonggor-r has three children, his daughter Leilani and his sons, Jason and Duece, both pilots. Jason is a Fokker 100 captain with Air Niugini, reaching his command two years ago. Captain Nonggor-r thanked his wife, Anna, who is a former ANG flight attendant, for raising their children while he was still away from work.

“I didn’t push my boys to steal. It was a decision they made and which I supported. My attitude is that if they wanted to be garbage collectors, that’s fine as long as they’re happy to do it and do it well. It’s their life, not mine and I only give advice to parents.

Captain Nonggor-r is grateful to Air Niugini and all airline employees for a colorful 46-year career.

“Air Niugini has been my whole life. On behalf of my family and I, we would like to thank the Air Niugini family of domestic ports, international airports, reservation centers, flight operations, head office, engineering, trade, catering, traffic, freight, porters, cleaners, tea from boys like Martin and the others for helping and supporting me during my time with Air Niugini. Captain Nonggor-r concluded

Statement and photos by Air Niugini

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