… A Tremulous Flight From Canan City
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AS I was returning from Calabar to Lagos in what was supposed to be a 55 minutes flight, we began to experience some turbulence in the air. It was a pleasant take off in Calabar and the pilot told us that the weather in Calabar was good adding quickl, however, that we should expect some turbulence as we approach Lagos because the weather would 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, while reflecting on the mixed memories of Calabar but the sleep would not come. I anticipated our landing less than 29 minutes after the refreshment.
As we approached Lagos, the aircraft encountered some turbulence thus making some passengers scream. I noticed that when it was time to descend, the aircraft was actually in heavy, snow-like white clouds. We could not see anything. I was near the window because I love taking aerial pictures. By now, I had forgotten I had a camera. We began to hover around. The sleepy heads had woken up. Then the voice came across 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 in your seats as we are now heading to Cotonou Airport in Benin Republic. Thank you.”
Everyone was obviously gripped with fear. But we pretended we were strong. I muttered prayers and I overheard others doing the same. A guy who was listening to music with his earphone removed it. I looked outside; there was no idea of where we were. It was an open, cloudy and black sky. After a while, I noticed we were on our way to Benin Republic. Someone stood up in an attempt to go use the toilet. The Cabin Crew screamed at him and ordered him back to his seat, and the guy dumped himself on a seat near me. I thought we had flown over Badagry, another slave town close to Nigeria’s Western border with Benin Republic.
“I am really pressed,” said the fellow who slumped beside me.
“Take it easy, God will intervene so we can make our landing,” I counseled with an air of optimism. I asked God to take control of the pilot we could neither see nor 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 we land then make my journey home 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 Danfo buses came into full view and I realised 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 metallic bird shot out its tyres and hit the tarmac. We found it had been raining heavily in Lagos.
With that experience, I thought I would not fly for a while.
But I was wrong. I soon found myself on a journey to Zambia through South Africa. It was such an eventful journey, which took me to another tourist haven – a privately owned park in Lusaka. It was an eco-tourist delight. The kind of experience I have never had anywhere in the world in the course of my many travels.