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

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Journal of Matthew Stirling
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June 8, 1926 : Albatross Camp (Base Camp) ; Mamberamo River ; Airplane Flights

June 8

This morning at about 9:30 Hans took off with his regular 321 kilo load and Le Roux as passenger. This is Le Roux'[s] 41st birthday and this was his first ride in an aeroplane. He brought mapping material with him and will fill in as much of the map on either side of the river as possible. They returned on schedule, Le Roux enthused and highly pleased over his ride. "I will cross New Guinea with Mr. Hoyte any time he wishes it[,]" he said. He was well satisfied with his maps and was able to trace the main mountain ranges of the Van Rees mountains as well as the courses and directions of the tributary rivers. The two lakes we discovered on our first ride over the mountain ranges were also entered on the map. In the afternoon the plane was all ready to take off for her second trip when a bad rainstorm that lasted most of the afternoon came up, and the trip had to be postponed. Flying conditions here are against the plane in every respect.

"This is Roux'[s] 41st birthday and this was his first ride in an aeroplane."

The lack of wind - lack of lift in the air - the fact that the hardest place to take off from is where the heavy load must be started with. It should also be borne in mind that a load of gas must be carried for the round trip. In America or Europe when flying between two places it is necessary to carry a load of gas for one way only. At Batavia camp where {p. 118} conditions are much better for taking off, the take-off is without load of food and half the gas. When Hans and Prince arrived first at Batavia camp they found that the soldiers had built a stockade as defense against the natives. They also found out the interesting fact that the Papuans were lying in ambush along the river with arrows nocked in their bows, waiting to get a shot at the great bird that passed over and back at about the same times each day. The natives have already noticed the schedule of the plane and visit the camp, but leave when the plane is about due. They then wait in hiding until the plane has arrived and left. They watch until the plane is completely out of sight, then they will return to camp. They told the sergeant that they will some day kill the great bird. The sergeant said that if they did he would kill them. Dick returned today with Jordan and the canoe transport who had made a record trip through the rapids and back. Dick reported the shooting of the Edi falls the thrill of a lifetime. He brought his movie camera and landed just below the Edi falls where he took a shot of the canoe transport shooting the rapids in what should be a sensational picture. He traded an empty can to a Papuan visiting Batavia camp for a fine bow.

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