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13 January 2014

Hope and Harold Morton emailed:


My husband Harold Morton & I visited Arova Is. a couple of times. The first time we were hosts of the gentleman who sold us our first BN2 "Islander" - approx. 1973. We had a lovely meal at the resort, saw a movie and returned to home base in Kieta (Happy Valley for us) late in the evening. We re-visited Arova on another occasion because it looked like an amazing swimming spot off that pier. Lovely clear blue water - "blow the sharks". Unfortunately I have no photos. Sorry I can't give you more info on Arova though I've oftened wondered if it's still in operation, and who would be running it.

For your information Harold & I served with Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) in PNG/Bougainville for nearly 20 yrs. The first 10 yrs were spent on the mainland of PNG in various locations (Madang/Banz/Tari/Wewak) and the latter 10 years, 5 years on Buka Is and 5 years in Kieta. We commenced aviation operations in Buka 1966 and departed from Kieta Christmas '75, just after Independence.

Unfortunately most of our photos were slides or 8mm movie film. I, Hope Morton, have personally posted several Bougainville photos on the Fb group "I used to live in Papua New Guinea", including the Old Panguna rd, (see below) which resulted in many comments; the Panguna mine; Kieta Harbour, including the Royal Brittanica; a bunch of Hutjena HS students ready to depart Buka (in our single-engine Cessna) destination Kekesu (Teop village). This photo also resulted in many comments as many 'ex students' (now of mature age) recognised friends and even themselves.

My husband actually authored a book "Flying for God", which includes our years on Bougainville. This is still available online from some book stores.... We have just had his latest book (a Trilogy) *"Life Betterment"* published as an e-book by Amazon: click here.

Here is a clip showing the SDA's "Flying for God" aviation work

I should mention that in the last couple of our years on Bougainville we sold our MAF service to the Bougainville Govt. We then named it "BougAir" and below is a photo of one of our Cessna with the distinctive Upe on the tailplane, and with our two younger children, one of whom (Liz Blake) told me about your interest in Bougainville. That photo would have been taken in '74 or '75. [Our 4 children all had their high schooling in Brisbane.)

I spent many hours on the radio all day, starting early morning with our own 'sched' at 6.45am when either Harold or I announced the program for the day (we ended up with 2 Cessna 185's and 2 BN2 twin-engine "Islanders") as well as receiving bookings. Then there was the 8am sched with the Govt radio (Telecom) where we received telegrams and messages from all and sundry from every corner of the Island, mission, plantation owners/managers, government personnel, local village people. The phone continued to run hot all day. Then around 7pm every night our "raun bilong liklik balus" was broadcast over Radio Bougainville. Back then I didn't have the facility of a computer and printer, so you can imagine what it was like typing long pages (attached together with sticky tape) and several carbon copies so each pilot, plus staff out at Aropa airport, knew which aircraft was flying where and with whom. It was a very personalised and unique operation. I also handled a lot of correspondence with DCA, orders for aircraft servicing/parts, accounts, Govt travel warrants & contingency forms to fill in, etc. It was quite common for my husband to have to fly some w/e's as medical emergencies could only be arranged via the transceiver in our home and we had no communication with our staff out at Aropa after midday Saturday. But when we could, on w/e's, we would go out in our little aluminium boat and do trolling for tuna, bonitos or trevally (and sharks/sail fish) and sometimes fit in a swim around the reefs (which the children preferred).

I must close here.
Hope Morton



Another pioneer aviator, Roger Yound, wrote "Many Adventures Followed", which on page 99 describes the Bougainville Air Services operated by Harold Morton - click here.