I came back from a long trip (six weeks during 2000)
though SE Asia and the SW Pacific. Travel was tough. Across land
on train, car and motorbike! Sea, river (in dugout - of course!)
and air. We stayed with either local families or in local hotels.
Generally speaking, the big problem is scrapping.
Intact aircraft on land are incredibly rare. The best chance are
wrecks from the sea. However, the poor infrastructure makes diving
very difficult. All the coastal airfields have been cleared out
long ago - I think PNG has more opportunities, but even there
it is not possible to protect wrecks! It was my first trip to
Irian. It is very easy to underestimate its remoteness. Travel
here is very very expensive. The need for a guide is also very
high which adds to cost.
There are still any wrecks on Biak and it is a great
place to visit. A trip to the old cave still revealed bone fragments
and items of personal equipment in the mud and gravel of the cave floor.
Locals are helpful. I learnt to speak some of the language which was
very useful, especially at the end of the trip where I found I could
function without a guide. Unfortunately a lot of local people see MIAs
as an opportunity to make money. I was offered personal effects and
dog tags for sale. Very disturbing trade.
"I saw this aircraft. It is an Oscar and she went in
vertically. The whole aircraft is smashed. The
Oscar picture here was described by local people as intcat
- unfortunately, it most definately is not!"
"Another Ki-43. This one alledgedly has .50 Cal holes
in the wreckage although I didn't see any. There is nothing
substantial left unfortunately - the guns were at the site
about 10 years ago but are gone now."
"The pilot of this P-39 bailed out successfully
according to local people over northern Biak. his aircraft
smashed into the hard coral limestone that forms the back
of the northern hills in Biak."
The main airport is still used and is a great way to
enter Biak. Coming in over low forest, you get a great view of some
of the old abandoned strips. Also visible are coral lagoons although
I could not see any aircraft in them!
There were some old vehicles at a local museum but
everything is rusting away and not looked after properly.
Numfoor is very underdeveloped and there are no
hotels. We stayed with a local police man and his family for two weeks
- it was fantastic. Very few people here speak English so it is only
for people who are prepared to learn some of the local language! Many
aircraft bits but no intact ones. Snorkelled on a pair of B-24 wings
in 2m of water.
The airstrip at Kornasoren in still there, but it appears
to be named Yebruro now after the local village. Australians came in
the 1950s and melted most of the wrecks down however many bits and pieces
do still remain.
"Local people say it came down in 1962 and is not a wartime
wreck. This particular wreck is very accessible. The fuselage
appears to be used as a store room today. There are many parts
of the aircraft around the village including the fuel tanks, engine
firewalls and undercarriage parts."