BARNABAS ORERE PONDROS
MORE than a thousand people braved the morning chill to bid farewell to pilot Jannie Moala, who flew the Airlines PNG Twin Otter that crashed in the Owen Stanley Range last Aug 11, in a poignant dawn memorial service in Port Moresby on Saturday.
Her family from Tongan and Manus was joined by close friends, schoolmates, workmates and hundreds of other people who did not know her before the crash.
Her partner’s family, the Mcllwains, flew in from Australia.
Many relatives and friends from around the country were also present.
Just before dawn, Capt Moala’s cremated body was ushered into the Rev Sioni Kami Memorial church to the sound of unique ceremonial garamut drumbeats.
Her ashes were rested in a golden urn, guarded by two photographs in golden frames that sat in the centre of a stretcher, made of hard wood. The bearers were four male pilots.
Capt Moala’s grand uncle, Rev Tapa Tupou, officiated the 5.30am service with words that echoed a life of faith, hope, love and inspiration.
Capt Moala’s immediate family, close friends and workmates who paid tribute echoed words that she was “outrageously ambitious” and “an inspiration” for many.
Capt Michael Butler of Airlines PNG, who supervised Capt Moala, said “the life of a pilot, especially a female pilot, is a challenge and you must understand that Jannie worked hard and strived in what she did, she was a good pilot”.
The cause of the crash which killed 12 others remains a mystery but the ambitious and inspiring life of Capt Moala would live forever, he said.
Big brother David Moala said “today is a celebration of her ambitious life as an aviator and as daughter, a sister and a true friend”.
“Her life was a message of hope and inspiration for many, mainly young women that no matter the challenges life poses, you think big, be ambitious and you achieve results.”
After the tributes there was a minute’s silence and three white doves were then freed into the blue skies where Capt Moala graced as an aviator.
Ensuing that, her ashes were given to her aunt from Manus, as custom demands, by Rev Tupou.
In the background a Tongan farewell song was sung.
Capt Moala’s aunt held the urn close to her heart as she led the procession out of the church.