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THE ELDEST SON OF BAMAN UROPMABIN WAS BORN DURING THE LAYING OUT OF THE ATMISIBIL AIRSTRIP AND HE WAS NAMED “KOBARWENG” AFTER “THE SOUND OF THE AIRPLANE” (Hylkema)

The highland people on the island of New Guinea were first contacted by whites a few years prior to World War II. Less accessible areas indirectly encountered the outside world only during the Pacific War through low-flying airplanes or when a
B-24 occasionally crashed into the forest. Much later Kaiang Tapior, still a child, watched in awe and wonder as a helicopter dropped supplies for the strange visitors in the village of Pepera, formerly the Nimdol Bivouac of the Dutch Starmountains Expedition of 1959.

WAS IT THE SOUND OF FLOOD WATERS? OR OF AN EARTHQUAKE […] PERHAPS IT WAS ONLY THE SOUND OF A CASSOWARY? BUT THE NOISE CONTINUED … (Berndt) — I THOUGHT I HEARD THE VOICE OF ONE OF THOSE MARSUPIALS THAT GROWL AS THEY GO ALONG AND HAVE TAILS LIKE LIZARDS’ TAILS (KUI KOKLOM), WE CHASED THE NOISE THROUGH THE UNDERGROWTH; IT KEPT MOVING IN FRONT OF US AND WE COULDN’T CATCH IT […] WE ARGUED ABOUT IT. THEN IT WENT AWAY AND WE SAID WE WOULD FIND OUT ABOUT IT LATER (Ongka) — WE NEVER HEARD THAT NOISE BEFORE — WE DUG IN THE GROUND […] WE DIDN’T REALIZE THE SOUND WAS COMING FROM ABOVE (Kubal Nori in Connolly & Anderson) — SOME SAID IT WAS A HORNBILL (SAU) FLYING IN THE SKY, WHILE OTHERS BELIEVED IT BE THE RURU FROG, FROM THE FOREST FLOOR, WHICH CRIES ONLY DURING RAINY PERIODS (Josephides & Schiltz) — OTHERS REMEMBER THINKING IT WAS SOME KIND OF INSECT […] AND SEARCHED THROUGH THE LONG GRASS BEFORE THE ENORMOUS VOLUME OF THE SOUND SENT THEM RUNNING IN TERROR. […] IT NEVER OCCURRED […] TO LOOK UP IN THE AIR (Connolly & Anderson)

6 July 1987; the village of Pepera: KAIANG TAPIOR PUZZLES ME WITH HIS QUESTION: “WHERE IS YOUR HELICOPTER?” “WHERE DID IT ALL COME FROM?” “OUT OF THE SKY” (Stow)