A year after hiking into the airstrip site at Pipal (full story here) we were finally able to get it open for service this past month.
A report filtered out of the jungle that the Ketengban community in Pipal had finished the work required...the airstrip was now landable.
Having not been on the ground in Pipal for twelve months I wasn't particularly excited about the first landing on the unproven airstrip. What fun, then, to hear that Helivida, one of our partners in ministry here in Papua, were going to have a helicopter in the Pipal area. I jumped at the chance to not have to choose between a couple days of tough hiking and scaring myself in the airplane. Helivida graciously agreed to let me bum a ride.
And so, in early May, I found myself looking down at the same river, the same terrain that had taken five hours of hard slogging to traverse on foot back in April 2012.
The helicopter made the exact same trip in, get this, four minutes. That's one minute of flying time for every hour and fifteen minutes of walking (and this particular walk--perhaps because of this particular walker--involved multiple falls, spills and losing my footing crossing rapids.)