Touchdown Zone: Yawan

Airstrip: Yawan

Region: Papua New Guinea

Surface: Grass/Clay

Elevation: 4,600 feet

Length: 475 meters/1,558 feet

Width: 19 meters/62 feet

Slope: 12%

Interesting fact: The Tree Kangaroo Conservation Project has been active in this area for several years. Watch a video about the tree kangaroos here.

Pilot Josh Eicholtz says: “Yawan is still my favorite airstrip in PNG. A challenging approach into a canyon with a spectacular waterfall view to enjoy after you land and turn around at the top!”

Time saved: With no roads, the people at Yawan are incredibly isolated. Overland travel by foot is a slow, time-consuming option, but a flight to Yawan from home base in Aiyura takes only 23 minutes.

Most flights to Yawan transport passengers and supplies to the village. Flights out of Yawan transport locally grown vegetables and coffee beans, or sometimes medical patients, to either Aiyura or Nadzab to connect with overland transportation. Yawan is only 27 nautical miles from Nadzab, the airport which serves the large port city of Lae.  Going overland requires days of hiking over a large 12,000-foot mountain range, but a Kodiak flight out of Yawan to Nadzab can swing 10 miles further west through a lower gap and get there in 14 minutes. After arriving at Nadzab, it’s a 45-minute drive to Lae on a very bumpy, poorly maintained road with inconsistent transportation options.

One more option out of Yawan involves several days of hiking north some 15–20 miles to the coast, and then facing a difficult search to find a dinghy and travel many hours at sea before finally reaching Madang. Not at all an easy solution.

View Chart Here.

Watch a Landing.

Watch a Take Off.

Watch a Go-Around

Approaching Yawan, a one-way airstrip set in a bowl surrounded by large mountains. Yawan must be approached from the lower terrain shown here on the bottom right. After turning right toward Yawan and glancing to see if it is clear of clouds, the pilot must make a go/no go decision quickly since the only way out is to stay in a right turn and fly back the way you came. Otherwise you are committed to land, since it is impossible to out climb the mountains surrounding you. Photo credit Moss Doerksen


Unloading rice from the helicopter at a village just a one-minute flight from Yawan. Yawan is just around the corner of a mountain ridge on the other side of the river valley. It would take a fast PNG hiker several hours to hike the same distance going down into the river valley then a few thousand feet back up to Yawan on the other side. Photo credit Gavin Jones


After delivering the rice, helicopter pilot, Gavin Jones will hop over to Yawan to check the progress on the runway repairs. Can you spot Yawan in this photo? Photo credit Gavin Jones


Now on final approach to Yawan in the helicopter, the runway is obvious. Photo credit Gavin Jones


The helicopter at Yawan, taken from the field across from the airstrip facing toward the bottom of the runway. Photo credit Gavin Jones


Overhead shot of Yawan. The rugged terrain surrounding Yawan isolates it from other villages. Photo credit Gavin Jones


Yawan has a considerable slope from the touchdown zone to the top as well as a dropping slope on the side. Photo credit Moss Doerksen


A Kodiak parked at the top of Yawan. Photo credit Jonathan Federwitz


Yawan villagers come out to meet the plane. Photo credit Moss Doerksen


The community at Yawan is surrounded by a beautiful backdrop of mountains and even a waterfall. Photo credit Moss Doerksen


On the ground at Yawan. Photo credit Moss Doerksen


Pilot Josh Eicholtz prepares cargo and a passenger to fly out of Yawan. Photo credit Moss Doerksen


This image shows the locations of Aiyura, which is our home base, plus Yawan and Nadzab, the airport for Lae, the second largest city in Papua New Guinea. To give some perspective on distance: Aiyura to Nadzab is 50 nautical miles, and Nazdab to Yawan is 27 nautical miles. Although they are close in distance, the rugged terrain and lack of roads make air travel to and from these locations an important service. Travel by foot, the only other possibility, is a time-consuming, often dangerous option.


This image shows Aiyura, Yawan, Nadzab, and Lae in relationship to the entire country of Papua New Guinea.