Monday, September 23, 2013

You are under control of Police and Army...

Arrival in Vanimo, 14h00 local time, we felt so relieved and happy to "have a short day", arrive at the Hotel early, have a rest, maybe do some washing, Internet, Blog, Flight Planning etc before supper. Our happiness was very short lived. This afternoon turned out to be one of the more strenuous and hectic afternoons and we never expected it.

We arrived third; one of the other crew directed us to a parking spot using the common company frequency, talking in German to us.

As soon as he had finished the sentence, we heard over another frequency someone speaking in a very tense voice: "DO NOT SPEAK IN GERMAN! SPEAK IN ENGLISH ONLY", tell your people to stay in the aircraft, I HAVE TOLD YOU BEFORE! Everybody must stay in the aircraft!!!

Hans answered: Yes Sir, we will speak in English only, I just told the crews where to park, Sorry Sir, we will speak in English only.

We had no idea what was going on ...
We were than told by Hans we were to stay in the plane.

We cannot do that, we HAVE to open the door. We are in a pressurized aircraft and we MUST open the door soon after landing, or not enough air for us after a little while. We open the door, and after a while we climb out, very carefully and trying to hide behind the plane....

the next aircraft arrives, the controller with the angry and agitated voice was distracted. Than again his voice: "...NEGATIVE, your people are out of the plane", referring not only to us but to every other crew who one by one, got out of the plane, staying very close to the plane, though....

As one by one every aircraft landed, the guy got totally out of control, first he raised his voice, than he shouted: YOU ARE NOT WITH ME ANYMORE! YOU ARE WITH THE POLICE AND THE ARMY NOW!!!!! Stop  talking, do not talk to each other!!!!

One of the females had to go to the toilet urgently, she was escorted by three males, no female in sight.
Lots of Police men with guns, many officials with badges, many security men, ... more and more people. Than the agitated guy shouted: NO PHOTOS! NO CAMERAS!!!!! Tell your people to stop taking photos, NO PHOTOS! NO PICTURES!  Get into the aircraft!!!!! NO PICTURES!!!!

We all put our cameras away, hoping they would not confiscate our cameras. Me, too, I immediately put mine into my backpack. Whenever the agitated guy spoke, I got very tense, and said to Dietmar, "let us somehow search for the number of the German Consular Department responsible for PNG, we are going to be in big trouble and we might need support, we must at least get their contact number ready, in case things get out of hand".

Forbidden Picture at Vanimo Airfield

One after another of our aircraft arrived, parked, and was told what to do and what not to do. More Army and Police Vehicle arrived, more officials. They all stood in groups discussing, talking, pointing at the different aircraft.

All of us were in.

It took a long time until someone came to our plane and introduced himself, "My Name is Patrick and do you need fuel?" very friendly and he wrote our name on the fuel list. A few minutes later Customs arrived, again introduced themselves and asked if they could do a random check, all polite, they proceeded to look into windows and we chatted and chatted and introduced "our family (stickers).... hoping they would not ask us to unpack luggage. They left us after a few minutes, Thank  Goodness. Than immigration arrived, collected our passports and told us to collect them on our way out of the airport.

Then all kinds of other people came, stood there, told us they would look after our aircraft, they would charge a fee of $200 per aircraft. At that we laughed, shook our heads and told them we were prepared to pay $20 per aircraft, not more.

Everybody wanted money, for this and for that. One of the other pilots came to tell us that uniformed people came to his plane, claiming they are the police, asking them for money for all kind of things.
He in turn told them he needs a receipt and their name on it for Germany, they quickly left, not to be seen again. In the end we could not decide who was rightfully asking for fees etc. and who was not. A totally chaotic situation.

And then... we could not believe our eyes, Police, Army, the Officials in Uniform were taking pictures of us and our aircraft. And asked us to stand next to them, posing and smiling. We in turn were not allowed to take photos. Johannes, one of the Mooney crew, asked the police to take a photo of himself and the aircraft and the one or other police man or official. And they did... smiling broadly.

In the end we left the airport at 17h30. We were exhausted.

While we were having supper the Police and Immigration officials arrived at the Hotel, informing the group our passports were stamped incorrectly when we had left the airport earlier. What are you saying? Stamped incorrectly? How? Well, unbelievable but true, the passports were stamped with a custom stamp and not with an Immigration stamp. All the passports had to be stamped again, one by one.

We went to bed very tired and exhausted and everyone had enough for the day.

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