In Papua New Guinea, bush pilots risk their lives to get food and medicine to land locked remote villages.
Above and Beyond follows a small group of Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) pilots based in Telefomin, a village nestled in a mountain range with no access to the outside world.
The beauty and peace of the surrounds belie the struggle for food for the 40,000 “Min” people who live here. Telefomin has poor soil and people in Telefomin are dependent on food being flown in by the pilots.
Two years ago there was a fatal accident in Telefomin and two pilots died. This has created a crisis for the community. There are not enough pilots and planes to meet the demands for flights.
The national elections are being conducted across the country. Police, security personnel and election officials have also arrived in Telefomin to supervise the process. As there are now more people in Telefomin, the trade stores are empty.
But hurdles lie ahead as a fuel shortage, bad weather and broken equipment hamper flights for food.
We had just spent over a month in a village in the East Sepik Province filming Grassroots Democracy when MAF invited us to join them for 10 days in Telefomin one of the most isolated regions of the country.
Above and Beyond was shot in various villages in the Telefomin Region as we joined the pilots on their flights to isolated communities, through some pretty challenging weather conditions, traversing mountain ranges over 4,000 metres.
We were in awe of the skill, courage and quiet determination of these pilots. They fly into strips that are 12% slope, that’s good for ski slopes, but not so good for airplanes.
Relying on donations, MAF pilots are now the only link for to the outside world and access to food and medicine. The dedication and fatal sacrifice of these pilots are reflected in the respect and appreciation of the villagers.
Above and Beyond has been screened on cable channels.