By MALUM NALU
One of Papua New Guinea’s most experienced airline pilots has been recognised for services to aviation as well as to community and young people.
Captain Lekwa Gure, 58, from Babaka village in Rigo, Central, received a Logohu award from Governor-General Sir Michael Ogio at Government House last Thursday.
He was conferred the award just days before his retirement on Thursday after 40 years of flying.
This is the second such award for Gure, who previously received a British Empire Medal in 2001 for services to aviation, while the Logohu is for his services to aviation, church and community over the last 15 years.
“I have been very much involved with our community in the village, in different areas as well as in the church with my brother Pae (Gure, a well-known civil engineer),” Gure told The National.
“I must thank Pae for this award in many respects because he was involved in those areas, both in the community and the church well before I started.
“His involvement in those areas made me realise that there is more to life than just having a formal job, doing your normal hours and going home and doing your personal things.
“If you are able to contribute to your community and the church in the areas that interest you, that is very useful.” Gure attended Kwikila High School from 1971-74 before applying to University of Papua New Guinea, where he was doing his preliminary year in 1975, when he answered an advertisement for pilot training in the Cessnock National Aviation Space Academy in Australia.
He spent a year training in Australia, joined Air Niugini on his return in August 1977 as a cadet pilot flying Fokker Friendships, Talair from 1979-1981 to build up his flying hours, took his first command on the Dash 7 from 1981-1984, and then moved to the F28 from 1984-1986.
Gure then moved to the Airbus A300-B4 in 1986 as first-officer, and in June 1988, got his command of the plane.
“Since I got my Airbus command in 1988, I have always been a captain on the wide-bodied jets with Air Niugini,” he said.
“At the end of 1988, the company got rid of the older Airbus with the flight engineers and acquired these brand new Airbus A310s.
“We bought one at the end of 1988 and another in 1989.
“We flew the A310s for quite a long time, up until August 2002 when we got rid of the Airbus and got the Boeing 767 – which we have been on since.”
In 2009, when the Government purchased the Falcon jet, Gure was the project leader and check pilot and was there until 2012.
Gure has been director of flight operations, training and standards manager as well as general manager of flight operations for Air Niugini.
Some of his memorable moments include his captaincy of the Airbus in 1988, first national director of flight operations for Air Niugini and flying the Pope from Port Moresby to Sydney with Captain Paun Nongorr
He said he would be able to concentrate on “other things” now.
“I’ve still got another six years of flying in me, but I don’t see myself doing that for the next six years,” Gure said.
“I’ve come this far and I feel I need to make a contribution elsewhere, whether in public or private areas.”
By MALUM NALU