Posted: on August 2, 2013
Story by Peter Higham
As most media images show, MAF pilots primarily spend their time flying planes! What is not so well known is MAF pilots spend a large amount of time in flight preparation, plane checks, weather watching, washing planes, loading wheelchairs, refuelling, passenger check-ins, writing up manifests and dealing with all the other issues. For example, when nine people turn up for a flight when only five people can fit! The MAF pilot is also the flight attendant giving briefings and making sure all the passengers are comfortable and safe!
It’s an extremely hot day and the temperatures are around 30 degrees Celsius with the humidity around 90%. Pilot Matt Alcorn has arrived at Gove Airport for a passenger and freight pick up. A pile of food and general goods freight to be flown to Galiwinku (Elcho Island), is waiting stacked up in the operations terminal.
Matt weighs up his two passengers with their luggage. He then makes a calculation on how much fuel will be needed for the trip to Galiwinku, thus allowing him to know how much weight capacity there is for the huge pile of freight that needs to go!
150kg is available to take the nearly 300kg of what is waiting! Decisions need to be made, so Matt proceeds to weight and calculate what he can carry. The remaining freight is left behind for the next pilot to process as best they can.
Matt loads the freight and passenger luggage onto the frieght trolley and wheels it over to his waiting plane. He loads the bottom aircraft pods and the rear luggage compartment. Challenges soon present themselves! Some boxes are too big to fit into the bottom pods and rear compartments, so using proper tie down procedures, Matt fastens the extra-large box to one of the spare seats. With the sun beating down, his shirt quickly becomes wet with sweat and by the end of the loading, Matt is uncomfortable and exhausted.
Still the sun shines or sometimes the rain pours down, but Matt’s job must go on! After refuelling the plane matt returns to the terminal and uses a spare minute to gulp down a cool drink and get something to eat before loading the passengers onto the MAF GA8 Airvan. After a passenger brief and radio contact with Flight Watch he is finally on his way to Galiwinku.
Upon arrival, the passengers disembark and Matt begins to unload the baggage and freight. Now the next flight is ready to begin…
MAF pilots do a tremendous job and it is not till one sees the whole process in action that one can truly appreciate how valuable each pilot is to MAF.