BY JEFFREY ELAPA
SYLVESTER Namalok began dreaming of being a pilot while still in primary school at his village in the North Fly district of Western.
He watched aeroplanes fly over his Bolivip village while attending the Bolivip Primary School. There are no roads to his village and travelling by air was and still is the easiest access to his village which is one of the mine-impacted communities of the Star Mountain Local Level Government.
He completed his primary school education in 1982 and the next year went to Kiunga High School in the same district. He completed his lower secondary education in 1986 and attended Kaibuifa Adventist Secondary School in Eastern Highlands in 1987 and 1988.
He travelled to Port Moresby to attend the Administrative College (now the Pacific Institute of Leadership and Governance) but left after two months to pursue his dream of becoming a pilot.
The Fly River government sponsored him to pursue his dream with the Missionary Aviation Fellowship (MAF) Flying School in Mt Hagen. He completed the training in 1992 and became Captain Namalok.
He has since flown many kinds of aircraft including the Twin Otter aircraft which he has been flying for six years.
He started with Milne Bay Air, which later became PNG Air, and spent 11 years there.
He spent one year with Airlink and three years with Trans Niugini Tours. He then spent one year with Central Aviation and flew for Hevilift for seven years. He returned home to fly the Pride of Telefomin which is owned by the Telefomin district in Western. The aircraft is undergoing maintenance. Meanwhile he is flying for Helifix owned by Central Governor Robert Agarobe.
“ It has always being my dream to provide (transportation) to disadvantaged communities cut off from the rest of the country with no roads.”
He loves his job to serve the people especially in remote communities.
“It’s how much we can help our people.”
He has saved lives through medical evacuations. He remembers flying to Suabi village in Western once to airlift a woman experiencing birth complications. He airlifted her to Kiunga hospital where she underwent a successful operation and gave birth to twins.
Flying comes with risks. He recalls having to crash land into a ditch at his village. No one was injured but the aircraft was a complete wreck.
The biggest satisfaction he gets is seeing the smiles and relief on people’s faces when they reach their destination.
“I like seeing and meeting people. I have flown to about 80 percent of airfields in the rural areas. After Telefomin MP Solan Mirisim bought the aircraft for his people, I decided to come back home. It has always being my dream to provide (transportation) to disadvantaged communities cut off from the rest of the country with no roads.”
It surely is a dream come true for the village boy from North Fly.