THESE LITTLE PIGGIES
This little piggy went to the market,
This little piggy stayed home,
This little piggy had roast beef,
This little piggy had none,
And this little piggy cried wee wee wee all the way home.
And these Little Piggies met a pilot …
Well, I learned a long time ago that pigs can fly and as a pilot I had witnessed it! Over a decade ago I had been flying in the jungles of Papua New Guinea, and the people there refer to it as the “Bush”
I was tasked by Mission Aviation Fellowship as a missionary pilot to move a couple midsized pigs, from one jungle/bush village to another. Mine was not to reason why…. but it was deemed important to these communities…
I do remember taking off heavily burdened in a Cessna 206 with the windows wide open as the smell of the pigs was overpowering to say the least! My face as close as possible to that open window…. Ever see a dog sticking it’s head out of an open car window as it travelled by? The heat and humidity produced a smell that only was exceed in my life time only by the smell of “almost fresh” crocodile skins I had moved from Hauna to Wewak in the Sepik River basin of Papua New Guinea (PNG) …
I have had occasion to have pigs for dinner, and I am sure many of you have as well. Still in PNG, I was honoured to be a guest at a Church opening along with Robin my wife and the head of the MAF PNG mission Mike and Cathy “J” the in-country manager who was instrumental in planting a church in Erave.
The porcine culture in PNG generally places the value of the porcine life ahead of the female human life in the most remote areas of the country. Pigs represent great wealth in this area of the world.
At the celebration of the Church opening the pigs were staked out along the perimeter of a sports field, adjacent to the new church building and stage. There was a trench that was about 2 feet deep, and the trench was about four feet wide and it lined the community sports field on three sides. Great wealth there that day staked out. One by one clockwise around the perimeter the pigs were dispatched. They were clubbed and macheted alongside the trench then rolled into it atop a smoldering fire, then coals and palm branches filled in the trench. The pigs were roasted for hours before the celebrations began. There was no “gutting or cleaning” of the dispatched animal. They were cooked whole where they were just felled and rolled into the pit.
There was this one big sow near the end of kill zone that saw its neighbours to its left, meet its end and that sow reared up screamed and broke free from its mooring. Just as quickly there was a loud cry almost in unison from the community, and I saw many, many, arms extended upwards holding and shaking their machetes, reaching for the sky along with the last scream of the sow trying to escape its end. That did not happen. It was brutal in a sense to a western boy who still tends to think bacon grows in the meat isle in the grocery store.
To be clear, the people of PNG were more than generous and kind with me… I love them deeply. So as their country has developed and grown in so many ways, our western world countries devolve… I expect that one day soon the people of PNG will be moving over to North America to “teach us” what we once knew but have forgotten.
More recently, I had occasion to engage with feral pigs while on a corporate trip in the TBM940, while spending two days in Staniel Cay in the Bahamas. While I waited on the island for my passengers to arrive to make our way back to Canada, I contracted an indigenous local man to ferry me out in a small motor boat to a place where feral pigs swim with humans.
The pigs were glad to see me, and as we approached in the boat they swam out to meet us. I hopped in the warm ocean waters with my snorkelling gear on and joined them in a little game of “Swim to Dave” as the pigs likely thought “He WILL have food with him!”
At one point I had to gently fend off the pigs by removing my mask and using it as a shield. I had NO food with me, and I told them so! They did not believe me and so they insisted on trying to get close enough that I could see that they were going to taste test me… I have seen them chomp on a lovely model’s bum in a video …. ( see the links below )
I had occasion to swim under the pigs. They did not want to go beneath the surface to check me out for gifts. I strolled the beach for a few minutes and the pigs there came over say hello. I preferred the water so I did not linger on the beach long…. After the beach visit another short swim. Then a maybe 40 foot launch arrived on scene with its well heeled passengers from a yacht anchored distantly offshore…. They were there to view the pigs too! I encouraged the passengers who where watching and filming me to jump in, but they were happy just to watch me swim about the pigs as they sprinkled food into the water around me. Apples and carrots mostly. It became a feeding frenzy at one point and I thought about the movie “Jaws” and of course some of the National Geographic films on “Sharks and there eating habits.” This was a bit different ….
At one point I tossed my cheap camera on to the boat where one kind and attractive woman picked up my camera took a few pictures of me fending off the herd then threw the camera back my way ! Thus, the pictures with yours’s truly …. I headed back to the little boat that brought me over from Staniel Cay and climbed aboard as a mid sized pig tried to climb on board behind me. The captain of the little boat started to back his little vessel and the little piggy yelped and then gave up his attempt to climb aboard and toppled back into the sea.
Well, that was very interesting adventure of course, but back to the pilot stuff for a minute. The nearby airstrip which we used was a reasonable 3000 foot paved runway, with access to a very small and overcrowded ramp. No ATC here and all aircraft movements were pilot negotiated …. ramp and runway space.
The end of that journey had me depart Nassau alone Canada bound. The trip with the boss and his wife from Staniel Cay to Nassau was short. Arrival at Nassau was busy. An RNAV approach ( an arrival at an airport guided by GPS ) under visual flight conditions made the trip quick and pleasant. They left the little turbo prop, and caught a bigger jet and made their way back home with a little more comfort than what the TBM940 would have offered.
The best I could say was that it was a miracle that I got out of Nassau that day at all! The traffic was chaotic. The volume of airline and corporate traffic resulted in a backlog of over an hour just getting off the FBO’s ramp. This is what “Spring Break” looks like in the Islands!
… It was getting quiet once again and as I descended into Windsor, with the Sun dipping beneath the clouds just as I was starting down… I videoed that event.
I flew a lot over the winter break period of 2023 back and forth through the USA into the Caribbean missing family and friends at home, who were earthbound. My job was to connect families from north to south in a way only a TBM could. Again for me the trip was memorable not so much for the flying, but for the people I met along that journey… and of course, the close encounters of the PIG kind …
SUNDOWN YOU HAD BETTER TAKE CARE !
Around and Around We Go!