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  1. The local authorities have decided to study the possibility of using a Dash 7 in the challenging airfields along the Kokoda trail. The local Airlines PNG Twin Otter pilots based at the Kokoda airport have been invited on board of the newly arrived aircraft as they might have to do a cross-training later on. Today, the group is heading to Timkenumo, a very short mountain airfield with an impressive slope. The weather forecast indicates the presence of rain for the whole period of the flight. But the visibility is good. It is worth trying out the airfield. The Dash 7 gets closer to Timkenumo : gears and flaps are out. The short sloped runway is in sight. Timkenumo is touchy for a Dash 7. The flare is critical. Since the aircraft has to be parallel to the steep sloped runway on arrival, it has to adopt a climbing configuration in the last moment of the approach. This means having enough speed to avoid a stall, but not too much to be unable to stop before the end of the runway. Now is breaking time! Airbrakes, brakes, reversers, pulling on the stick to put the weight on the center wheels, everything is included except totally retracting the flaps which would be useless on such a short runway. The aircraft slows down rapidly, but it is necessary to keep it slowly moving to help finish the ride up the hill. Once positioned correctly, the crew stops the aircraft. The engines remain running since it is only a quick turnaround. A pilot gets out and take a picture of the Dash 7 with the Timkenumo post sign. It is now time to turn around. The slope is too important, even for the Dash7. Applying full power to turn will not work here. The best way is to release the brakes, let the Dash 7 build a little momentum, then apply the right brakes at the same time as the left reversers come into action. The aircraft pivots on itself on the runway. Then the pilot apply left rudder and brakes and adds power to the two engines on the right side to align the aircraft with the runway. Using the steep slope and the power of the four engines of the Dash 7, the aircraft is airborne rapidly. It is time to build up speed to avoid the mountain straight ahead. A few minutes later, the Dash 7 is out of the valley. The Kokoda airport is in sight. The airbrakes will help to rapidly diminish the airspeed. The runway is straight ahead. Lots of visitors today in Kokoda! Some food is already being cooked outside. I guess the pilots will try to invite themselves. Hopefully the tents will be dismantled tomorrow morning, otherwise there is a risk that the Dash7 pilots accelerate the process with the thrust reversers before the next flight! Cheers!
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