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Today, I flew the line. My first flight was to drop off some school teachers at the Aboriginal bush community Gan Gan. They will spend the week there teaching the kids. We will pick them up again on Friday.

Next I fly to Wulwulwuy. On arrival noone is at the airstrip I walk into the community to ask around. I'm directed to an older man who appears to be my passenger. As we walk towards the plane more people turn up. Eventually I close the doors to five adults and two infants! We taxi down the strip as I complete my checks.

The runway at this community goes uphill at first, then a plateau in the middle and then it goes downhill again. In the middle, the access track to the community crosses the runway. When I'm lined up for take-off, I cannot see past the top of the hill, nor can I see the vehicle track. It involves taking a good look down the track when taxiing out for take-off.

I apply take-off power, and 300 horsepowers roar to life. We gain speed and as we accelerate up the hill, more of the airstrip comes into sight. Suddenly my breath stops. There is a car on the runway! A white troopie. I immediately bring the throttle to idle and apply the brakes. We slow down, fortunately well before we arrive at the car.

My next flight is what we call a 'body charter'.
An Aboriginal funeral takes weeks of preparation. Important family or clan members have to arrive to take part in the burial ceremony. Because the communities are so remote this takes time. During this time, the deceased has to be 'stored'. This is done by flying the deceased out to either Gove or Darwin, where it is kept until the family is ready for the burial. Then the body is taken out of the morgue and flown out to the community.

It turns out I actually know the deceased, from our time in Milingimbi. He took part in the Ranger program and I used to fly him regularly to work in the surrounding communites. I'm privileged to be able to fly this man one last time, back to his family and traditional land. On the way we overfly a community where relatives live. I circle overhead as a farewell to the relatives living there. After two turns I continue on my way to bring this man to his last resting place.


Last resting place, a remote Aboriginal homeland, his traditional land.

Weather 33° Mostly Sunny

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