A local Father and son duo have made history by becoming the first Papua New Guinean father and son Captains flying for National flag carrier Air Niugini.
Captain Paun Nonggorr, who hails from the Koepka Ramdi Tribe of Koepka in Mt Hagen, Western Highlands Province started flying in January 1975 at Cessnock, New South Wales, Australia, where he attended flying school.
He was the youngest national to have attained command on the Fokker F28 jet aircraft at age 26 in 1983. He’s a former General Manager of Flight Operations in Air Niugini and is also a qualified Flight Instructor for Ab Initio Flight Training for student pilots. He has been with Air Niugini was 44 years, 35 of which he spent flying the Airbus 310 and Airbus 300 on international routes, and currently flies the Boeing 767 jet.
The greatest achievement for Captain Paun Nonggorr’s flying career was attaining his command as a first young National F28 jet Captain in 1983 after a few years Captaining the old F27. This was followed by Airbus 310 and Boeing 767 aircraft. He has been flying the B767 for 17 years. He holds seniority number 1 of all pilots National and Expatriate in Air Niugini.
Despite his flying achievements, Captain Nonggorr senior says, nothing beats seeing his son follow in his own footsteps and better yet, having his son fly with the same airline as him.
Captain Nonggorr senior expressed that a lot of hard work, commitment and discipline is required to become a pilot, and his son Jason, has reached a milestone in aviation from being a pilot to becoming a fully-fledged Fokker 100 Captain.
Jason Nonggorr, Captain of the Fokker 100 jet attained his command on the F100 six months ago. He said, it is a great personal achievement to hold the command of a Fokker 100 aircraft as the result of hard work, determination and dedication.
Aproud achievement of the Nonggorr family.
“To have achieved this with the National Airline where my father is considered a pioneer of aviation in PNG gives me a sense of great pride within myself, my family, Air Niugini and also the country.” Jason said.
Captain Paun Nonggorr explained that when Jason was asked what he wanted to pursue after graduating from high school, his answer was to be a pilot just like his father.
“Having been through and knowing the rigors of making it as a pilot myself, I had no doubt that Jason possessed the attributes to be successful as he understood what was involved in making it as a pilot. Now Jason has the necessary experience to pilot any aircraft in the aviation world”.
Jason’s interest in aviation was only fitting as he was raised by a pilot for a father and his mother, who hails from Wuvulu in Manus Province worked as a flight attendant with Air Niugini. A family in Aviation was promising enough for a young child to pursue a dream in the same exact field.
“My earliest childhood memories are that of watching my father command the Airbus A310 aircraft from the jump-seat which further increased my fascination about aviation and inspired me to become a pilot,” Jason explained.
Jason is the second of three siblings and is 30 years of age. He had previously been employed with PNG Air for 7 years, where he attained his Command on the Dash 8 aircraft after returning from flight training in Archerfield, Brisbane, privately paid for by his father. He joined Air New Guinea three years ago as First Officer on the Fokker 100.
“It would be an incredible milestone and humbling experience to one day operate the Boeing 767 alongside my father,” said Jason.
His father recalled flying the F28 aircraft was challenging because it was an analogue aircraft and required a different set of skills.
Saying, PNG is one of the most difficult places to fly in the world due to the challenging localized weather patterns and rugged terrain which made domestic flying very challenging, however, it was fun, exciting and incredibly satisfying.
“The secret that keeps me flying all these years is that it’s fun to have an office way up among the stars. Although, it can be stressful at times, it comes with self-discipline and some regimentation. You also get a good idea of all aspects
of what happens around the world,” said senior Captain Nonggorr.
His advice to young, aspiring Papua New Guineans who wish to become pilots is dedication and determination.
“Any average PNG young person can be a pilot and fly a big jet aircraft like the F100 or B767, and any other job as long as they are prepared to work hard. There is no PNG way of flying any aeroplane and there is no easy pass
to any job in life,” senior Captain Nonggorr continued.
He encouraged parents to be supportive of their children’s upbringing, education, and dreams by giving children the best of their time, attention and love during the formative years.
“Parents must realize when they have children, it is 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year commitment. This forms the building blocks for a child’s success in life including their child becoming a pilot. All success by children starts at home with mum and dad.” He said.
He gives credit to his wife Anne, who took care of their children when he was always away working and thanked Air Niugini for giving himself and his son the opportunity to fly with the airline.
He said Air New Guinea has been his life and means the world to him and his family. Being a pilot with the airline was his first and only job and it will be his last.
And flying the National Airline with his son as Captains, is indeed a very proud moment for both father and son.