National Geographic : 1941 Mar
Unknown New Guinea Circumnavigating the World in a Flying Boat, American Discover a Valley of 60,000 People Never Before Scientists Seen by White Men BY RICHARD ARCHBOLD With Illustrations from Photographs by the Archbold Expeditions MY THIRD New Guinea Expedition was organized for a complete investi gation of virtually unexplored north slopes of the Snow Mountains on the second largest island in the world.* How much more it was to accomplish I did not suspect as we took off from San Diego Bay on June 2, 1938, in the Guba, our twin-engined Consolidated Model 28 flying boat. We were to discover in the interior of New Guinea a valley of some 60,000 people whose existence had not been recorded. Cutting sky trails over three oceans and three continents, we were to be the first to fly around the world nearest its greatest circumference, the Equa tor. Our route was by way of Honolulu and Wake Island, skipping Midway, and thence to Hollandia, in Netherlands New Guinea. Just after sunrise on June 10 we alighted on Humboldt Bay, where we were greeted by members of our expedition who had gone ahead. The trip had consumed eight days, but our flying time for the 7,236 statute miles had been only 50 hours and 4 minutes. Fur-lined Suits Over the Equator Save for a few thunderheads and a hail and snowstorm which forced us to put on fur-lined flying suits while crossing the Equator, the voyage had been uneventful. The Guba's flying range was 4,200 miles, and, thanks to the automatic pilot, we had had little to do ex cept when the course was changed or we ran into heavy weather. My scientific associates were Dr. A. L. Rand, assistant leader and ornithologist; L. J. Brass, botanist; and William B. Richardson, mammalogist. With me on the Guba were Russell R. Rogers, co-pilot; Lewis A. Yancey, navigator; Raymond E. Booth, radio opera tor; and Gerald D. Brown and Stephen Bar rinka, flight engineers. Brass, Richardson, and Harold G. Ramm, radio operator, had arrived in Hollandia on * Largest is Greenland. For other articles on New Guinea in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, see "Into Primeval Papua by Seaplane," by E. W. Brandes, September, 1929, and "Pictorial Jaunt Through Papua," by Captain Frank Hurley, January, 1927. April 23, and Rand had joined them a month later. Through their efforts, living quarters, godowns, and a radio shack had already been established, and a ramp for the Guba was almost completed (page 317). They had in jected into the sleepy village-permanent white population four persons-a spirit of ac tivity and industry it had never before seen. We planned to collect in areas on the north ern slope of the Snow Mountains (Sneeuw Gebergte), between the summit of Mount Wilhelmina and the Idenburg River, estab lishing collecting camps at intervals of 2,000 feet (map, page 318). Results obtained in that unknown region we hoped to connect with those of the Aus tralian section and thus provide the basis for a comprehensive study of the flora and fauna of the entire island. My three New Guinea expeditions were under the sponsorship of the American Mu seum of Natural History, New York City. Wholeheartedly co-operating, the Nether lands Indies authorities gave us the assistance of Dr. L. J. Toxopeus, entomologist; Dr. E. Myer-Drees, forester; and an escort of 50 soldiers under command of Captain of the General Staff C. G. J. Teerink, Lieutenants V. J. E. M. Van Arcken and C. W. Schreuder, and Dr. R. Huls, medical officer interested in ethnology. By June 17 the soldiers, their convict car riers, and 72 Dyaks brought from Borneo as additional carriers and collecting boys had arrived on the monthly steamer, increasing the personnel of our party to 195. The entire ex pedition, with food and camp-building material and scientific equipment, was flown in the Guba to the interior within 45 days. This feat, Captain Teerink informed me, was the largest scale transport by airplane ever put on in the Netherlands Indies (page 327). Our main inland base was to be on Lake Habbema, 11,342 feet above sea level and 175 miles southwest of Hollandia (page 319). Since no plane had ever landed on the lake and none had taken off from water at so high an altitude, we had to make sure that the Guba could lift herself there.