"By Aeroplane to Pygmyland" Accounts of the 1926 Smithsonian-Dutch Expedition to New Guinea

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Journal of Stanley Hedberg
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June 10, 1926 : Airplane Flights ; Albatross Camp (Base Camp) ; Mamberamo River

June 10

The weather didn’t look so good in the morning when we arose. It was cloudy most of the morning. Leroux had the entire outfit, soldiers, convicts, Dyaks and the staff lined up for a picture with his panorama camera. Dick got movies of it [See Film Selection #8]. It is an impressive bunch for in numbers it runs considerably over three hundred people. That is many mouths to feed in this country when everything has to be carried here. I also shot a close up of the staff with the graflex. The Dutch army men were all dolled up in their Khakai [sic] uniforms and were spick and span. We with our beards and ordinary clothes looked more like jungle explorers than they did but they will probably say we are slovenly. We sure look the part. However, one doesn’t come to New Guinea to dress up. We came here to explore. When we are in Java and America it is time to dress up. After the picture taking was over we adjourned to the plane for she was to be put on the float for a time. That was not an easy task for the river has fallen considerably since she was on the float the last time and it would not be possible to use the boom and the chain hoist. Hans and Prince worked it out however, and with the aid of four or five Dyaks and Moon[,] the convict[,] it was accomplished. It took until long after lunch time and much hard work on the part of Hans. Hans is a good worker and senses the importance of doing things well. He isn’t afraid to get into the water and get his feet wet. Putting the fourteen drums under the float with the river low is a hard task. When it was possible to use the chain hoist it could be lifted slightly in order to get some of {F1.80} the weight off the float. Now, however, the drums had to be put under by strength and that is man power. It was finally accomplished and we adjourned to eat. We have opened some of the green peas and they have tasted darn good. The weather was threatening all morning and shortly after luncheon we had a regular New Guinea rainfall. It rained heavily all of the afternoon and as the wind was in the right direction it came right into our front porch. Matt was sorting out some negatives and putting them away in his files when it struck. I was working at the typewriter. At first we thought it wouldn’t come in for it never has before but the wind carried it in upon us and for several minutes we were busy putting things away and out of the reach of the water.

It stopped work on the plane of course. We have been fortunate in selecting the right days for flying and for laying the plane up. It would have been bad had Hans been caught in that heavy rain storm. He has flown through many, however, for he is not staying on the ground because of a few clouds. Hans is doing splendid work on this expedition and deserves much credit. It stopped just before five and it was possible to cook dinner. The evening was clear and Jordans, Korteman and Hoffman visited us for the first time. Leroux’[s] pictures turned out well. That camera is an excellent one for that kind of work. Leroux is getting some splendid pictures. We too, have a wonderful collection up to date. Have about all we need for around here. Van Leeuwen informed us that Posthumus and Tomalinds’ [sic, = Tomalinda’s] Dyaks were leaving in the morning in a transport, with twenty soldiers. He will pick up some prows and food at Batavia Camp and go through to establish Motor and Head Camp if possible. On June 17, Jordans and Van Leeuwen will leave. Of course, Van Leeuwen will go straight through to Head then for it will be ready by that time. Stirling and Leroux are to follow when the transports come back which will be the end of June of course at the earliest. That is not so nice and shows how liberal the new so-called leader is and how courteous he is in his {F1.81} leadership. He and his many tons of tins, newspapers and alcohol go first and then the rest can follow. He is very selfish[,] that is certain. However, we listened and said [“]yes yes.[”] It is his intention to keep everybody but himself back. When we get up stairs it will be a hard thing to do and if we wish it we can fly up there long before he will ever arrive. Probably he is figuring that we will do that. There are many things in the air, besides the aeroplane these days. The pictures of Anji, Hans and the aeroplane and Tomalinda turned out fine. We have a good selection of Dyak pictures now to illustrate storied [sic, = stories] for Popular Mechanics and news stuff.

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