Douglas C-47A-30-DL Dakota c/n: 9521 crash site 2002

Series of photographs taken in Oct 2002 of the remains of:

Douglas C-47A-30-DL Dakota c/n: 9521

USAAF 5AF 317TCG46TCS named 'The Amazon' force landed Dec 01 1943 by 1/Lt James Nolkamper and co-pilot 2/Lt Hector Unger ran out of fuel Wreck rediscovered by Matthew Laird Acred in PNG 25nm west of Port Moresby.

Adventures of a would be wreck hunter lah!

Well the other weekend I decided to go for a drive (yes you guessed it was Sundry) anyway to cut a long story short my illustrious driving mate took the wrong turn and we ended up in a completely different location from where we had originally intended. After asking a local villager and finding out that we weren’t even close, we turned around and where driving off when I asked my friend to go back. I thought this can’t be an accident (being the fatalist that I am there must be a reason for this complete debar cal) so I asked the villager who just happen to be the local area representative, if there where any WWII wrecks around.

Bingo he said there was a single engine plane not far away. I asked how long it would take to get there. He said about half hour there and another half an hour back. I asked if we could go now! (Many of you know by now, Patience is NOT my middle name) He told me he needed some ZOOM for his boat. I asked where we could get some he said the only place was Port Moresby. Since it was already late and not practical I decided to return another day.

Anyway as it turned out I’d have long to wait before I got the chance. I had already bought a 15 liter container for the ZOOM (local for 2 stroke outboard motor fuel) and left the house at 08:00. Figuring it was only a short distance to the crash site, it would mean I should be back for lunch. Boy was I wrong on that one.

When we arrived, we found out he’d already left for a council meeting in Port Moresby however his wife took me round to his brothers place and one of there cousins who had an out board motor to take us to the site. I asked what type of aircraft it was and he told me it was a 4 engine bomber. Strange from 1 to 4 engines! Ok sound good what ever! So we drove on a bit further to another village because it was a shorter distance to the crash site.

Anyway after arriving at the other village, the whole village decided to get involved in the deal and then they only would take me to the crash site if I could assure them that any money earned from the wreck would go to their village. After a big village Pow-Wow I said until I can establish exactly what type of aircraft it is there’s no point in arguing over anything just yet. I asked if anyone knew what type of aircraft it was whether it was US or Japanese. Nobody could give me anything specific enough for me to gage just what type of aircraft it might be. I new it ranged from now 1, 2 to even 4 engines. When I asked how good it was; they all said it’s complete and in very good condition. One guy even said you can still see the pilot’s boots he left behind! I hadn’t heard that one before! Heard the one where the Pilot is still sitting there with his parachute and Ray Bans on. But his boots are still there; what a classic. Anyway decided to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Then came, the “ZOOM” dispute, they told me the journey would take over an hour there and back, and that 15 liters just wasn’t going to be enough. I managed to buy addition 2 liters but they all insisted I needed 25 liters. Anyway I was getting sick of all the arguments so I decide to put the matter up to the heavens and tossed a coin. Crocodiles we go and birds we make it another day. (It’s a PNG 1 Kina coin and they have a bird as a head or is it a Crocodile never mind). Anyway best out of three I yelled. Yes you guessed it came up 3 Crocodiles I told the whole village fate has said we GO! Thank god they believed me otherwise would have been there all day.

Arguing the toss so to speak, sorry could help that one!

That ended the dispute over the ZOOM! And away we went. Then came the food bill, well another quick stop over at the village chief’s store fixed that problem! I figured keep them lean and hungry, since dried biscuits were going cheap I bought 20 packets and that’s that oh and I thought I’d be generous and throw in two cans of sardines just in case they decided to go fishing on me.

Anyway after sorting out what villages would make the trip we finally got going! Eight people on a small canoe this was going to be interesting. I tried to reduce the number but they insisted so what the hell 8’s a good number for the Chinese so who am I to complain. I must admit as went down the winding river the scenery was fantastic and I was having my fair share of Walter Mitte (spelling) dreams of going down the Amazon ( I know it’s a bit of an exaggeration) anyway I was very happy to be finally making process. As time seemed to drift pass I asked the usual question of “how much further to go?” another 10 to 20 minutes was the reply. You get the picture though, these guys have no idea about time, and I don’t think any of them had ever heard of the word “Seiko” before, not alone ever seen or worn a watch, my kind of guys though really. Finally after 3 hours and a numb arse we finally got there. I’m then told it’s an hour’s walk to the crash site this can only get better. Going on these guys idea of time I was prepared for a major hick and having a numb arse wasn’t going to make things any easier.

With Machete in hand and camera, off we went! My other friend though otherwise and he stayed to watch the boat, rather wise fellow really. After chopping our way through long Kunai grass we finally found what I was looking for! It was the aircraft’s tail sticking out of the long grass. I rushed over to the crash site to find of all the aircraft it could have been; it had to be you…hmmm A C-47 Dakota cargo aircraft, not exactly what I was hoping for! I could have stayed in Port Moresby for that one; they have three at the airport. Oh I forgot to mention the Pilot’s boot’s had long since gone! And as happens to so many other good aircraft, the burning off, of the Kunai grass had destroyed a good portion of the aircraft. It’s one way to get fit though, and I was wet with sweat by the time we got back to the canoe; running from hoards of mosquito’s had a lot to do with it. Bit like Indie Ana Jones as he’s running over the hill being chased be natives except in my case it was mossies, screaming get the boat ready lah! Let’s go…

Anyway what started off as a 30 minute to 1 hour trip turned out to be a Hollywood epic. We all arrived back well after dark and after losing my glasses the natives all looked the same in dark and it was hard to work out who got what, I’m sure I paid a few twice. Anyway such is life lah! But that’s the tropics for you.

I couldn’t help but laugh though it was a great adventure and sometimes you win and sometimes you may loose… but we do have fun beside the sea side…. Hmmm.

Stay tuned for my next adventure coming soon to cinema’s near you as the PNG saga continues.


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