For PNG Defence Force Air Transport Wing pilots, Captain Ben Waibadi and Lieutenant Cameron Hosea, the last four months have been fruitful, undergoing flight training with Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Wing Commander Tim Shaw.
Through Australia’s Defence Cooperation Program, the RAAF stepped up to reinvigorate PNG Defence Force’s air capability beginning with training its pilots to fly the PAC P-750.
Shaw is no stranger to Papua New Guinea and its airspace. He flew Caribous in the mid-1980s, was a flying instructor on DC3 and Nomad aircraft with the PNGDF in the early 1990s, and was recently engaged in flying FIFO operations for a mining company before returning to the RAAF.
In a way, it was no surprise to Wing Commander Shaw that he had actually flown alongside Cameron’s father who was a PNGDF pilot in the 1990s.
"We flew together quite often in Nomad aircrafts in the 90s,” said Shaw.
‘I’ve had a long association with PNG. I love the country, I love the adventure of it, I love the challenges and in particular I love flying here.”
Under this project, the Wing Commander hopes to make a difference and looked forward to seeing PNGDF ATW pilots blossom into professional aviators in the future.
Lieutenant Hosea remarked “you would think that with the wealth of knowledge Wing Commander Shaw has, it could be quite easy to lose patience when a student does something wrong, but I really admire the patience the boss has for myself and my fellow pilots going through the course”. For both pilots what stood out was Shaw’s patience.
Waibadi and Hosea had re-joined the Air Transport Wing in 2011 and 2017 respectively through internal PNGDF pilot selections. After completing their flight training though, both men had to “desk fly” for years while awaiting further training to become operational PNGDF pilots.
This training opportunity has now put them one step closer to achieving their dreams of becoming fully operational PNGDF pilots.
“I have had a long association in training different Papua New Guineans over the years in aviation. In training these guys, it is very satisfying to see tangible results,” he said.
With more flying hours to gain, Shaw is optimistic the current cohort of pilots will lead the transport wing to a brighter future.
“I look forward to coming back after retirement in a number of years’ time, and I am going to go and shake Lieutenant Colonel Waibadi’s hand and Major Hosea standing right next to him and they will be running the squadron by then,” said Wing Commander Shaw.
“I look forward to that day and there will be lots of PNGDF aircrafts flying around. That’s the way to go.”