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Turbulence in the air

March 24, 2012
I returned to Lagos this afternoon after six working days in Calabar through a stormy weather that took our aircraft to Cotonou in Benin Republic. I have never experienced the kind of turbulence in air today since I began flying about three decades ago. We took off from Calabar just after mid day. It was a pleasant take off and the pilot told us that the weather in Calabar was good adding quickly that we should expect some turbulence as we approach Lagos because the weather will be cloudy, stormy, windy and blowing lots of sand. We thought it was like any other warning during flights.
Then we were served light refreshment. I tried to catch some sleep, it would not come. Then I anticipated our landing less than 29 minutes after the refreshment. The normal flight time is 55minutes. As we approached Lagos, the aircraft encountered some heavy clouds and it shook making some passengers to scream; Jesus Christ! Then we entered turbulence. I noticed that when it was time to descend the aircraft was actually in heavy, snow white clouds. We could not see anything. I was near the window because I always loved taking aerial pictures. By now, I had forgotten I had a camera. We began to hover around. Those who were sleeping had woken up. Then the voice from the cockpit….”This is your Captain speaking…. We have been experiencing very turbulent storm and we will not be able to land in Lagos because of poor visibility. I implore you to fasten your seat belts and remain on your seats as we are now heading to Cotonou Airport in Benin Republic. Thank you.”
Everyone was obviously smitten with fear. But we pretended we were strong. I muttered prayers and I overheard others doing the same too. A guy who was listening to music with his ear phone removed it. I looked outside; there was no trace of where we were. It was an open, cloudy and black sky. I noticed we were on our way to Benin Republic. Someone stood up to go and urinate. The Cabin Crew screamed at him and ordered him back to his seat and the guy dumped himself on a seat near me.
“I am really pressed,” he said.
“Take it easy, God will soon make us to land,” I counseled with an air of optimism.
I asked God to take control of the pilot we could not see or control. How do you control him even if you are in the cockpit with him? I thought I was just going to sleep in Benin if God makes us to land and definitely travel by road. For once, I was not willing to make another air travel.
After about 40 minutes of groping and hovering in the sky of Benin Republic, there was the voice again; “Em… this is your Captain speaking…. We will be heading back to Lagos. I have just been told that we can now land in Lagos because the storm is over.”
We went through the thick white cumulonimbus clouds. Suddenly we entered dark clouds and the inside lights of the aircraft glowed in the darkness as if it was night. I could see the signal lights outside blinking red. Slowly, I saw a little bit of trees, meandering rivers and life. Then the yellow Danfos…and I realized we had gradually descended into Lagos. I told the guy who was trying to use the toilet he should exercise more patience. Within five minutes, the large panel bird shot out its tyres and landed on the tarmac. We found it had been raining heavily in Lagos. We thank God for His mercy endureth forever.

I had gone to Calabar for a program on UN REDD+University.. those issues about reducing deforestation and soil degradation and all the attendant problem of climate change.

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