My TPNG visa, good for 90 days, was due to expire. I stowed the geophysical equipment and prepared to return to Australia.
The Bougainville exploration project was exploding, straining the air service from Australia to New Guinea. Flights were fully booked months in advance. CRA had booked my return flight before leaving Australia, three months before. All flights were confirmed – except for the flight from Aropa (Bougainville) to Rabaul. I was on standby for that one. After numerous checks of my return flight status, I only knew that I was still on standby.
The flight from Aropa was by DC-3. Seats were scarce. All I could do was go to the airfield and see if I could talk my way aboard.
At Aropa I watched the DC-3 land.
And I watched the DC-3 take off again.
And flying away with that DC-3 were all my flight reservations to Australia.