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Doan May 16, 1942
Doan May 1942
David Carne c1958
Chris Bowers 2006
Lat 6° 20' 17S Long 145° 54' 15E Aijura Airfield is located at an elevation of 5355' at Aiyura (Aijura) in the Highlands of New Guinea. Pronounced "A-year-a". The runway has a downhill slope of 2° and the northwest end is a small stream with a hill on opposite side of the runway. Prewar and during the Pacific War located in the Territory of New Guinea. Still in use today as Aijura Airport in the Eastern Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea (PNG).
Built prewar by Australian colonial administration. By early 1942, the airfield was a single runway 800' x 100' x 5,400' with poor approaches (hills and trees at both ends with a hard dry surface, can be lengthened to 1800 yards. Facilities include radio, food and water. W.O. Brechin, automobile gas 300 gallons.
World War II Pacific Theatre History
At the start of the Pacific War, a civilian Spartan biplane from 1925 was abandoned at Aiyura Airfield.
On May 16, 1942 force landed low on fuel was B-25C Mitchell 41-12478 piloted by 2nd Lt. John D. Feltham. While waiting for rescue, the crew pent the next couple of weeks resting and exploring the valley while waiting on a rescue. While waiting, the crew repaired an abandoned Spartan biplane and made a successful test flight at the airfield.
On May 20, 1942 an A-24 Dive bomber piloted by Captain Rogers, C.O., 8th Bomb Squadron spotted the crashed B-25 from the air while flying over Aiyura. He landed and spoke with Feltham then continued to Wau. When he returned to Port Moresby, he ordered three crews to rescue the B-25 crew.
On May 24, 1942, three A-24 Dive Bombers attempted to rescue the crew, but two crashed on landing. On May 25, 1942 the surviving A-24 Dive Bomber 41-15822 crashed on take off, killing pilot Holcombe and injuring passenger Rogers.
On June 18, 1942 Jerry Pendleton landed at Aiyura Airfield in a DH Dragon and flew Rogers out. That same day, near dusk, Feltham attempted to fly the Spartan biplane to Bena Bena Airfield but crashed suffering two broken legs. He was found trapped in the wreckage by his crew and several Australians. They splinted Feltham's legs and made a litter then carried him to Bena Bena. Afterwards, Pendleton flew the same DH Dragon to Bena Bena Airfield to rescue Feltha. Over the next few weeks, the rest of Feltham's crew and Lt. Doan. Doan were flown back and by on July 15, 1942 returned to Charters Towers.
B-25C Mitchell Serial Number 41-12478
Pilot Feltham force landed May 16, 1942
A-24 Dive Bomber Serial Number 41-15822
Pilot Holcombe crashed on take off on May 25, 1942
Used postwar, the wreckage of the B-25 and A-24 remained at the airfield until the early 1960s.
Peter Schindler adds:
"As children in the 1950s my brother and I spent hours playing in the bodies of the B-25 and two of the A-24s, often pretending we were on missions to bomb enemy targets. It was a joy to read of the history of the these memorable old aircraft. I know they [the wrecks] were were demolished eventually because they were regarded as dangerous, especially to the kids that played in them!"
David Carne adds:
"I certainly remember having a great time with my mates, playing on the aircraft wrecks at the end of Aiyura Airstrip in the late 1950's. The wrecks were demolished in the early 60s and the parts used around the station for all sorts of practical things. The "bello" that was heard several times a day all over Aiyura was the armour off the back of the pilot's seat. The wings were cut off to be used as bridges. The engine mounts were used to mount the hand operated coffee hulling machines and the bomb winch was used to string up the cattle after they were slaughtered to bleed them. The pulleys and cables were even used for our billy carts! I have a photo of the wrecks taken by my father (Ron Carne) around 1958-9."
Still in use today as Aiyura Airfield. Airport code: AYU. The single runway is 1,280m in length with a slope of 2°orientated 14/32 with a right hand circuit.
John Douglas adds:
"I went to the Aiyura Airstrip in 2002. No wrecks. No one who I could find had any WWII stories."
Peter Schindler recalls:
"My father fought at Milne Bay with the 25th Battalion and afterwards worked at Aiyura as chief agronomist. As children in the 1950s my brother and I spent hours playing in the bodies of the B-25 and two of the A-24s often pretending we were on missions to bomb enemy targets. It was a joy to read of the history of the these memorable old aircraft."
Notes about New Guinea airfields, recorded circa May - July, 1942 by Oliver C. Doan via Jean Doan research Edward Rogers
The Highlanders (1971) by James Sinclair includes a photo of Aiyura and Aiyura Airfield
Adventist Aviation Services PNG, Way point Database, April 3 2010, page 1
Thanks to John Douglas, Edward Rogers, David Carne and Peter Schindler for additional information
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