Friday, October 24, 2014

Australian pilots detained by Indonesia expected to be freed on Saturday: Two Australians at the center of an airspace drama in Indonesia have paid a fine and are awaiting final clearance to leave

Indonesian air force officers check the small Australian plane and its pilots Graeme Jackline and Richard MacLean. 

 Indonesian air force members with Australians Richard MacLean and Graeme Jackline after they were forced to land their small 1966 Beechcraft twin-engine plane in Manado, Sulawesi.

Two Indonesian air force jets intercepted the small plane piloted by Graeme Jackline and Richard MacLean on Wednesday morning, forcing it to land in Manado, Sulawesi, for airspace violations.

One of the air force pilots has revealed he had his weapon “locked on” the plane when it refused to land for several hours.

On landing at Sam Ratulangi Airport in Manado, armed air force officers swarmed the aircraft and frisked the two Australians.

Indonesian authorities say they didn’t have the correct documents and they have agreed to pay a Rp60 million ($5670) fine.

The Sam Ratulangi airport commander, Hesly Paath, said all the necessary paperwork would have been completed on Friday.

“We’re now only waiting for flight approval,” he told reporters on Friday. “Tomorrow they will be able to fly again, I think.”

An airport spokesman, Syaifullah Siregar, said that the men had paid their fine.

“It’s lucky that they brought cash, too, so they could pay it immediately,” he said. “Both men are well.”

Although their first moments in Indonesia were tense, the men have since been photographed looking happy, posing for photos with air force personnel in the dorm they have been staying in.

The Australians were on a delivery job, taking a small 1966 Beechcraft twin-engine plane from Darwin to Cebu in the Philippines.

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