Q&A: Daniel Wanma, Air Niugini captain and Commonwealth Games shooter
When he’s not in the cockpit of a Boeing 767, this Air Niugini captain likes to fire guns. At the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia, he competed in trap shooting with a double-barrel shotgun that he has nicknamed Papuan Black.
Q: How did you go at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast?
A: Reasonably well, given I only started this discipline about two years ago. (Wanma was 16th of 40 in his qualification round.)
Q: Was it your first big event?
A: I have previously attended two World Cup tournaments, in Cyprus and San Marino, and won a bronze medal in double trap at the 2015 Oceania Championship in Sydney.
Q: How did you get into trap shooting?
A: At the Pacific Games hosted by PNG in 2015, the National Shooting Association president, Mel Donald, sought interested shooters to try clay target. I did reasonably well in selection and then did OK at the Games, finishing in the top 10.
Q: Is there much of a following for it in PNG?
A: Not presently. However, in the years around PNG’s independence (1975) the sport was popular and there were several clubs around the country. During Commonwealth Games training at the Gold Coast Clay Target Club, I met PNG’s 1974 World Cup representative in the sport, Lyndon Anderson. He gave me one of his 1974 Lae Gun Club badges, which I wore during the Commonwealth Games for good luck.
Q: Can you briefly describe what trap shooting involves, and tell us about the key skills needed?
A: It involves shooting a clay disc, the size of an adult fist, thrown out from a trap-house bunker at 100kmh. The release of the clay is triggered by the shooter calling ‘pull’. Each shooting lane has computercontrolled trap machines, which decide the direction, elevation and angle the target will be launched. At the end of each round, the computer would have presented exactly the same pattern of angles, height and direction to each shooter, but in jumbled sequence. Essentially, the shooter has no idea which way the clay will exit the trap house until it becomes visible in flight. It’s a mental sport, requiring a lot of mind control.
Q: Is it hard to juggle your time between trap shooting and Air Niugini?
A: At times it is, but our rostering team has been top notch, accommodating most of my competition schedule. There is also a lot of time spent pre-planning, including foreign firearm licensing formalities, to ensure my Perazzi MX200 double-barrel shotgun – nicknamed Papuan
Black after the venomous snake – accompanies me around the world.
Q: What is your ambition in the sport?
A: I want to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games.
Q: When did you join Air Niugini and what’s your work history there?
A: I joined more than 23 years ago. I started as a pilot and worked up the ranks to general manager of flight operations, followed by chief operations officer (COO). As COO, under board instructions, I led an executive project team to create Link PNG, consisting of a Dash 8 fleet servicing the smaller airports and resource sector in PNG. I was appointed the inaugural chief executive officer of Link PNG in 2015
Q: What’s your current role with the airline?
A: I have taken a sabbatical from management and returned to flying our large Bird of Paradise Boeing 767 on the international network, to free up time towards studying for an MBA.
PNG at the Commonwealth Games, in pictures, see page 76.