Thomas Keindip didn’t fly a Boeing 747 or an F100. He didn’t make the international flights and he didn’t sleep in hotels overnight.
He flew small planes to the locations that many people didn’t want to go to.
As the son of a missionary, Kimbun Keindip, Thomas grew up in Ampo in Lae where the Lutheran headquarters is. His determination to fly started at an early age.
During school holidays, he and his siblings would board a small plane and head off to Kabwum to his father’s village.
From an early age, he wanted to fly.
Thomas was fortunate to begin his career as a bush pilot with the Missionary Aviation Fellowship. Over the years, he received offers to fly for big airlines but he turned them down.
During one of our discussions about fuel prices I asked why. The reason was simple, he said. There’s a need for bush pilots and there aren’t enough of them.
In fact, the airline he worked for as Chief Pilot, North Coast Aviation, is the only one in Morobe serving five provinces – Eastern highlands, Gulf, Oro, Sandaun and Morobe.
It’s quite a feat for this small airline considering the fact that fuel prices have risen considerably in the last six years. In 2015, things became difficult, when he couldn’t get the fuel needed to fly. Help came and flights resumed.
As a kid from Kabwum who grew up flying back and forth to his village. Rural aviation was important. Everyday, he and his pilots flew coffee bags from some of the most rural locations in Papua New Guinea. They flew medical evacuations, flew in teachers, health workers and reunited long lost family members.
But it was the little things that matters to Captain Thomas Keindip.
I asked him during one interview what gave him the most satisfaction as a bush pilot. He said, “it was the joy of seeing family members reunited after a long time.”
That was the most important thing to him as a bush pilot. Surprisingly, it wasn’t the heroic deeds of saving lives and rescuing burn victims. He sought the simplest of pleasures – reuniting families.
It taught me a lot!
You’re a hero, bro!