Everyday People PNG : Benedict Samlal

Part 1 of 2: My name is Benedict Samlal, Ben for short. I am 44 years old and I am a pilot.

I am the third born in a family of six.

My mother is from the Mortlock Islands in ARoB and my father is from the Madang Province.

I first became a pilot in 2001.

I got my commercial pilot license with multi-engine instrument rating and in September of 2002, I started flying the Dash8 aircraft with Air Niugini and eventually progressed onto the Fokker100.

After 12 years I resigned and took up a job with Hevilift.

In 2016 I left for PNG Air.

I got my first command in 2017, and eventually made captain on the ATR in 2018.

I am a typical primary school teacher’s son and we travelled the country.

After my birth in Kavieng (New Ireland) in 1976, and we travelled the country extensively until 1981, when we moved to Bougainville.

The first real challenge that my family and I went through was during the crises in 1989; I was in grade 6.

In that year when the Panguna crisis became the Bougainville crisis, we were caught up in it and had to move because my father was teaching in a place that’s towards Panguna.

Amid all the heavy fighting and all that, the school had to close.

I moved to Kapere Community School in Arawa Town, where I completed year 6.

The following year all the non-Bougainvilleans had to leave Bougainville.

I stayed back with most of the Bougainville students and did grade 7 at Rigu High School, but that only lasted for half a year.

The school eventually shut because there were no services available at all.

Rigu high school was in Arawa.

My father was teaching in Buka, so I had to go and join my family in Buka.

We stayed there until the end of the year.

By then there were absolutely no services because the BRA was ruling the province.

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