Touch Down Zone: Kaintiba

Airstrip: Kaintiba

Region: Gulf Province of Papua New Guinea

Surface: Grass/clay

Elevation: 2,000 feet

Length: 485 meters/1,591 feet

Width: 22 meters/72 feet

Slope: 12.7% overall

Language group served:

Kaintiba serves the Hamtai people who are located in a mountainous region of Gulf Province on the southwestern coast of Papua New Guinea. A translation of the Hamtai New Testament was completed in 2018.

Interesting facts:

Kaintiba is a one-way runway with a mid-final committal. The go around path leads into a box canyon, making the committal point a little earlier than usual. This situation requires careful consideration of winds and weight, especially because tailwinds are common at this runway. Maximum tailwind is seven knots for landing at full gross weight. This airstrip is great for transitioning pilots to more sloped landings. They must match the slope on landing or bounce!

On takeoff, pilots give away the first 30 meters to avoid a bump where the airstrip slope changes. An optical illusion on takeoff makes the mountains in the distance look taller, but when sighted from the top, they are actually at the same level as the top of the airstrip.

In addition to the Hamtai people, the airstrip serves Mark and Christi Helzerman who work here with a partner organization doing church planting and Bible teaching. Their house overlooks the airstrip. They take great care of their airstrip … and pilots. Typically, they greet the pilots with fresh bags of popcorn! When it’s time to do supply runs, SIL PNG Aviation’s pilots fly in food from Port Moresby or the SIL-PNG Aviation base, Aiyura. During the COVID shutdown, with the exception of a few months, the aviation department was able to continue serving the Helzermans, providing a lifeline for food and supplies.

Time saved:

The Helzerman family does most of their shopping and business in Port Moresby. Either Mark or Christi goes once every two months for supplies. They can fly directly to Port Moresby in one hour in the Kodiak. Alternately, an overland trip involves a three- or four-day hike or a 15 minute flight to the road in Kerema. Once they arrive in Kerema, they face an additional six to eight hours by vehicle to Port Moresby depending on the weather and road conditions.


View More Here:


The remote runway of Kaintiba is tucked into the mountains, creating a more challenging approach. Photo by Mark Helzerman


Overflying the runway to verify conditions prior to landing. Photo by Mark Helzerman


A good look at the Kaintiba runway from the “downwind leg” of the traffic pattern. Downwind is flown close here because of the mountain ridge next to the runway. Photo by Mark Helzerman


On “left base” at Kaintiba—preparing to turn onto final approach. The touchdown end of the runway is hidden behind the hill. Photo by Mark Helzerman


At the committal point on approach to Kaintiba. Photo by Bryan Jones


Kodiak in the parking bay, a relatively flat spot at the top of the sloped runway. Photo by Johnny Reeves


A great view looking down valley as the Kodiak prepares to load. Photo by Bryan Jones


Captain Josh Eicholtz conducting a routine inspection of the runway to ensure proper standards and safety margins are maintained. Photo by Bryan Jones


In this survey photo, the white cross marks what is level with the top of the airstrip at Kaintiba. This info helps the pilots properly evaluate the obstacles they need to navigate after the downhill takeoff. Photo by Johnny Reeves


The Helzerman family live and serve at Kaintiba. Photo shared by Mark Helzerman