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

Interpretive Essays

Browse Photos and Film

Expedition Source Material

About this Project

expedition source material

Journal of Matthew Stirling
Select a Date:
Select a location/subject:
Current Date and Location/Subject:  

June 18, 1926 : Albatross Camp (Base Camp) ; Mamberamo River ; Airplane Flights

June 18th

There was a heavy rain lasting most of the night and it must have been general, as the river rose almost a yard during the night. This morning at about 8:45 Hans and Prince took off with the Ern carrying a load of 310 1/2 kilos which they brought to Batavia camp. They reported the canoe transport with Jordans and van Leeuwen just past the Edi rapids. At one o'clock they again left with the same amount - 310½ kilos. They flew through a heavy rainstorm for a considerable distance on the return trip and again saw the phenomenon of a double circular rainbow on the ground. On the third trip 311 kilos were loaded in the plane, with some hot bread and fresh meat for the soldiers. It was again raining in the south when they took off in a stiff cross wind from behind Havik Island. We waited until they were due back and Stanley and I sat with le Roux on his "front porch" watching the sky to the south but the time for their appearance came and passed and still no plane. It gradually grew darker but the sky to the south was a light greenish hue and the plane would have silhouetted clearly against it. Twenty yards away Moon sat on a little hummock also anxiously scanning the sky. Finally when it became so dark we could no longer see we gave up the vigil and returned to our own house. I called to Moon and told him "Tida kombali kapal {p. 128} trabang; bessok, barankali" [sic]. But Moon stayed on. This evening over the supper table we speculated over all the possibilities. There is nothing we can do from this end as the canoe transport will return more quickly than a canoe could go upstream from here, especially since there are now no Dyaks in camp. It will be an anxious time for us until either the plane comes back or the canoe transport with news of it. It is a wild and stormy night and no time to be out in the open. Malaria is rapidly increasing in camp. Now over 15% of our total members have it. Seven new cases developed today, all of which gave positive cultures. I played bridge this evening with le Roux, Korteman and Hoffman but my mind was not on the game. No one spoke of the plane but it was on all of our minds and the possibilities of what might have happened were not so optimistic as a forced landing anywhere between here and Batavia camp would be touch and go at best, or worse, to be blinded in a big storm and unfortunately we know there was one yesterday and this evening.

CreditsPermissionsMore Expeditions & Voyages