|Captain Christopher Kaines...two years on, his plane crash is shrouded in mystery|
By MALUM NALU
Chris Karma Kaines, from Gassam village on
Morobe province, died in a mysterious Cessna 206 plane crash in the mountains
of Myola, along the Kokoda Trail, on Thursday, August 7, 2008, on his
return from Goilala. Siassi Island
Today, his two wives, Betty Komes and Betty Kuyei; four young children, daughters Emerald, Answer and Story (born from Kuyei) and son Chris Kaines Jr (born from Komes); family and many of us friends are still waiting for answers about his death.
There are several unanswered questions as to the flight plan given to the Civil Aviation Authority, the air worthiness of the Cessna, why the operator has disappeared since the death of Chris, is there any truth that Chris was carrying mercury and a large amount of money when he crashed, and many more, including questions on the involvement of certain groups and individuals.
Reporters probing the crash hit a brick wall at CAA when trying to get information on the crash.
Chris was a very experienced aviator, whose feats are the stuff of legend, including busting gun smuggling operations in Western province with police, once landing on the Hiritano Highway when his engine failed, who in 2006 year flew a private plane from the USA to PNG, and whose ambition in life was to buy his own plane and run a charter operation.
His best friends were from Butibam village in Lae, and he grew up with us in the 70’s and 80’s, played with us, and drank with us as we were all one family until his tragic passing.
His best mate was fellow pilot and school mate, Sao Maliaki, from Butibam and who flies for Airlines PNG.
We will always remember this athletic, handsome and easy-going young man who had a huge passion for life.
I remember flying with him once to remote Kabwum in the mountains of Morobe in 1994, and despite the weather and mountains, Chris’s good humour kept me going all the way.
That was the nature of the man.
Chris Kaines was born at Minj in the Western Highlands province but grew up at Mendi in
His father was a police sergent from Siassi while his mother was from Iokea village in the Gulf province,
Chris was a very experienced aviator.
After his training in a private flying school in
self-sponsored, he flew crop dusters. Australia
He flew for various charter operators in PNG.
Once, he ran into engine trouble and landed somewhere near
on the Yule Island Hiritano Highway,
and after repairs, took off again.
When police needed an aircraft and a pilot to bust a gun-smuggling operation in the Western province side of the border, they were recommended Chris as the pilot and they still speak highly of that operation and the skills of the pilot.
He had a stint with Rimbunan Hijau during which time he flew regularly between
and the Western province. Port Moresby
“Chris was a very adventurous person,” said his brother-in-law Newman Cuthbert, who delivered the eulogy at his funeral service at
Church in , before the body was taken home to
“He never joined Air Niugini or a commercial airline because he wanted to be in command of his own aircraft.
“He was not cut out to cart passengers but was attracted by the prospect of flying into remote locations and challenged the dangers of the weather and dangerous terrain of PNG head on.
“Chris always told my missus - his sister - when she told him time and time again of her concern of him operating small aircraft in remote locations: ‘Big sis I know what I am doing’.
“Danger and death was the most remote thing on all our minds for Chris.
“He had a lot of friends - those he grew up with and kept close to his roots.
“When logging was introduced to Siassi and as part of a family of principal land owners, Chris expressed concern about illegal logging and made it known at family discussions that the family members at home should never be manipulated by foreign logging companies but should benefit.
“‘We must receive our share of royalties but our old people must benefit before their time is up’ he used to tell missus.
“The father passed away two years ago and Chris flew his body home to Siassi.
“As a child he loved adventure movies like cowboys and Indians, and if there was something that looked complicated, he wanted to know what made it work.
“Recently, with another pilot friend, he took delivery of an aircraft from the
and flew it home to PNG. USA
“His ambition was to buy his own plane and operate a charter company.
“He wanted the family and clan involved and we were all in the process of looking at that prospect.
“His best friends came from Butibum.
“He grew up with them, played with them drank with them and it was his other family.”
In fact, the last time I met him was in May 2008, shortly after the death of my wife, during which time he passed his condolences and told me that I must be strong for my children.
He reminisced with us from Butibam that night, over a couple of beers, about his many adventures all over the country as a pilot, including
Bougainville during the crisis.
For one thing, all of us Chris’s mates from Butibam and Lae, now that he died doing what he loved best.
Rest in Peace, old buddy!