Touchdown Zone: Wonenara

Airstrip: Wonenara

Region: Papua New Guinea

Surface: Grass/clay

Elevation: 4,900 feet

Length: 450 meters/1,476 feet

Width: 37 meters/121 feet

Slope: 8%

Language group served:

Wonenara serves the Yipma language group (also known as Baruya). The New Testament was completed and dedicated in 1993 with the help of Wycliffe missionaries Dick and Joy Lloyd.

Time saved:

Beyond a certain point, there are no roads into Wonenara. From the end of the road, which is passable only in dry season, it’s a one-day walk to Wonenara. In rainy season, walking takes two days. Flight time to Wonenara is only 10 minutes from the home base at Aiyura.

Interesting facts:

Wonenara presents a unique pattern for both takeoff and landing: the slope of the runway is opposite of the slope of the valley in which it sits. (Reference the runway chart below.) The average slope of the runway is 8%, which requires landing uphill and taking off downhill. But the approach to the runway is down the river valley. The approach path snakes left and right down the valley before lining up for final. The nice thing is that benchmarks in the valley make consistent approaches easy. (We call it a “bush ILS.”) And, if you get it wrong, the go-around is easy with a slight right turn continuing down valley.

When taking off, the pilot climbs on runway heading for only the first 300–400 feet before making a 180-degree-left turn away from the rising terrain.

Wonenara sits in the mountains of central Papua New Guinea where some of the best coffee in the world grows. SIL PNG Aviation serves the local community by flying airplane loads of coffee out for sale to coffee factories and eventual export. These flights enable local coffee growers to earn income from selling their coffee, and revenue from the flights helps to subsidize SIL PNG Aviation flights in support of Bible translation.

View chart here.

Watch a take-off here.

Watch a landing here.

View more photos below:

Overhead Wonenara, about to turn downwind Photo credit Jonathan Federwitz


Wonenara from the air Photo credit Brian Lillie


The non-standard approach path into Wonenara follows the valleys before lining up with the runway. Photo credit Brent Fox


The departure involves a downhill takeoff into rising terrain requiring a 180-degree-turn shortly after takeoff. Photo credit Brent Fox



The slope of the runway at Wonenara is opposite the slope of the valley in which it sits. Photo credit Brian Lillie


The runway at Wonenara Photo credit Jonathan Federwitz


Many local people show up to help unload supplies flown in to Wonenara. They also help load bags of locally grown coffee to fly out to market. Photo credit Jonathan Federwitz


Two Kodiaks on the ground at Wonenara Photo credit Jonathan Federwitz


This Kodiak poised for takeoff clearly displays the slope at the top of Wonenara. Photo credit Brent Fox