Samson Tersoo Akula
We got to the airport as early as 7:45 am for an 8:00 am flight. Myself, my colleague, her help and her baby concluded the normal check in protocols, then settled in the departure lounge. The place was already occupied with the usual mix of passengers, airport workers, vendors etc.
Nothing was out of place.
We settled down on one of the regular iron seats at the airport lounge gisting away…after awhile the normal airport announcement from their hardly ever audible speakers announced that our flight would be on ground by 8; 24 am. Satisfied we will be on schedule, we continued with our talk.
By 8:27am, the big bird arrived majestically… And by 8:45 boarding started. 11c was my seat. The emergency exit row. The flight attendant came over did the usually thing with those who occupy the emergency exit. As soon as she left, I placed a call, then another. Normally I would do a selfie and send to my sweetheart (just in case) but I didn’t.
After sometime the aircraft’s engines shut down with unusual movements in and out of the cockpit. Three or more ground staff joined the others in the cockpit. I watched keenly this unusual drama because my seat was in the middle aisle. Then one of the pilots a middle aged man came into the main cabin and addressed us. In his words” good morning ladies and gentlemen, we are sorry that we have a technical problem with this aircraft, the component that is responsible for powering the engines just developed fault, we are trying to fix it. Would you all kindly disembark from the aircraft till we fix the part hopefully shortly. Thank you and sorry for the inconvenience”
The usual murmuring, hissing and cursing by passengers followed.
We left the aircraft and went back to the departure hall. After a while , they came to inform us that the equipment needed to externally restart the aircraft was not available at this airport they needed to send it in from either Abuja or Lagos. This was when I did my own hissing and cursing. Knowing Nigerian Carriers, this journey was now not certain.
Thankfully, through whatever means the jetliner was powered back to life. I think the equipment may have been borrowed from the Arik Flight that landed minutes before. They revered the engines back and we were asked to re-board. Half way through the tarmac we were asked to go back to departure lounge again. This time that the weather in Abuja was bad. I knew this because of the calls I made. But suffice it to say that my mind was not at rest again knowing fully that I was going to fly in an aircraft that could potentially cut power mid air.
But almost immediately we re-boarded and took off quite smoothly. My heart was in my hands though. Then the scary part… The turbulence was out this world. Having been on air quite often, I hardly fret at turbulence. But men, today’s turbulence was not here. There was pin drop silence in the aircraft except for the occasional beeps and radio messages from the cockpit . Everyone in the aircraft was worried and anxious.
Those who could, prayed and those of us who couldn’t observed and waited. The aircraft laboured its way through the tempest occasionally throwing us out of balance. Outside the giant bird were dark gloomy rainy clouds. No sign or sight of life or light but heavy winds lifting us out position almost often, making our transport vibrate violently.
Finally and i mean finally we descended to land under very heavy rains at Nnamdi Azikiwe International airport.
Never have I been more glad to sight land, mountains, human beings etc before. The plane touched the ground and slowly taxied to a halt, there were loud sighs of relief by fellow passengers, some “thanked Jesus” out loud, as others clapped and congratulated themselves for surviving the scare. We disembarked happily.
A faulty plane, bad weather and rainy day hmm but certainly today was not the day. But I will fly again soon!
Akula contributes this piece from Abuja.