History of Sentani Airport: Built by Japan, Seized by the US, Controlled by the Netherlands

goodmorningpapua.com – Sentani Airport is Papua’s main air gateway. Historically, this airport was built by Japan, then seized by the United States, afterwards controlled by the Dutch.

Sentani Airport is located in Sentani District, Jayapura Regency, Papua. The airport is located on the shores of Lake Sentani and serves flights to major cities in Indonesia.

Sentani Airport is also the homebase for pioneer airlines to the inland of Papua. Historically, the Sentani Airport early as a Japanese military airport built during World War II or the Pacific War.

The Japanese troops at that time stationed 139 bombers and 125 fighters at Sentani airport. These Japanese planes were lined up with the wing tips close together.

Sentani airport was seized by Allied forces under the command of General Douglas Mac Arthur on April 22, 1944.

In this battle, American warplanes succeeded destroying 199 Japanese aircraft parked on the runway. America only lost four warplanes. By the Japanese, the remaining survivors were flown to the Wakde Island airport, Sarmi.

This success was celebrated in the style of the Allies, General Mac Arthur and the American troops by drinking ice cream and coca cola. Meanwhile, the Australian, British and Dutch troops celebrated it by drinking beer. After the airportr was successfully controlled, Mac Arthur assigned a technical engineer to check the surface of the Sentani airport left by Japanese.

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They were extremely disappointed, because the Japanese made an airstrip in a short time in the sago swamp land, and only functioned to Japan’s Zero aircraft which weighed about 2.7 tons. By the Japanese, the Sentani airport was poorly drained and it was difficult for fully loaded bombers not to hit the Cycloops hills during takeoff.

American engineers were then assigned to build a new runway in the area of ​​the former Japanese airport. This new runway had to be improved and able for being used by American aircraft which weighed ten times as much as the Japanese Zeros.

The runway was hardened and made wider so that it could be landed by the B29 Superfortress long-body bomber.

After the Pacific War, Sentani airfield was controlled by the Dutch until 1962. This airport was used by the Dutch as an airport for commercial aircraft and fighter aircraft. After the Dutch left Papua, the Indonesian government managed Sentani airport. The airstrip was extended and airport support facilities were made.

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