BECOMING an aircraft pilot one day has crossed many a young mind while growing up.
In the early 1960s, one four-year-old boy of Viviran village, East New Britain, nurtured such a dream.
Edward Matane, the eldest son of the late statesman, head of state and renowned writer Sir Paulias Matane, worked hard to achieve that dream.
“I loved watching pilots operating aircrafts in what was then a tough operating environment. But it set the scene for my future aspirations.”
Today, Edward is the aviation leader for Santos based at Moro, the logistics centre of the company’s sustainable oil and gas development and supply operations.
He has been with the company for more than nine years. He leads a 12-member team that looks after daily aviation operations in the Southern Highlands, Hela and Gulf. They ensure aircraft safety and availability, and that the Jet A1 fuel quality is maintained.
They ensure that medivac capability is available for Santos and the community, and that the Moro airport runway and navigation aids conform to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority of PNG standards.
For Eddie or Dude, as those close to him call him, his dream began in the early 1960s when he first travelled with his family on a light aircraft.
His fascination of flying and all things aviation was kindled then and became a lifelong passion.
At the age of 18, when some of his peers were learning to drive a car and get a driver’s licence, Edward was already learning how to fly and getting a pilot’s certificate.
He initially flew the Cessna 150, Cessna 172, Piper Tomahawks, Piper Cherokees, and other small twin-engine aircrafts.
“ There is no better place in the world than the rugged terrains of Papua New Guinea to test the forte of a young boy or girl destined to fly.”
Edward started his aviation career with Air Niugini in 1978 as an aircraft engineer. He then became a flight engineer before taking on various management roles.
He became the second PNG licenced aircraft engineer for the F28 engines in 1980, and the first licenced F28 airframe and dual (engine and airframe) engineer in 1981, attaining a flight engineer’s rating on the B707 in 1983 and the Airbus A300B4 in 1985.
Edward’s approach to work had been greatly influenced by his parents. He attributes his numerous achievements to their “strong disciplined work ethics and high moral standards”.
Edward remembers the 2018 massive earthquake that caused so much devastation to Southern Highlands and nearby provinces. Moro became a coordination point for the delivery of emergency supplies provided by donors and the company.
“As a first responder, we sent in our helicopters and personnel with initial relief supplies to the hardest-hit villages.
“The Australian and New Zealand governments deployed the C-130 Hercules aircraft with aid packages.
“Then we saw a large volume of air traffic as the Moro airfield became a central point with more than 2,000 landings of various types of aircraft including the Dash-8, ATR, DH6 twin-otter, Super Kingair, Cessna Caravan, Bell-212s, Air bus H145 helicopters and the Chinooks.
“A proud moment also was when we organised the safe travel of many of our employees out of Moro a day after the earthquake. It was indeed an honour when the company recognised the aviation team for their efforts.”
Apart from flying, Edward also loves motorbikes.
“I am an excellent motorcyclist.”
And foremost he enjoys the company of his family and loves outdoor activities.
Edward also enjoys watching rugby league and is a supporter of the New South Wales State of Origin team.
For the man from Viviran village, there is no better place in the world than the rugged terrains of Papua New Guinea to test the forte of a young boy destined to fly.
His advice to young people is: “Be respectful to everyone regardless of who they are. Maintain integrity at all times and always remain humble. With self-belief and passion, the sky is the limit.”
Story and pictures supplied