The day my plane didn’t drop out of the sky
About a year ago, I left Michael and Cecelia Ibru University, Agbarha-Otor in Delta State where Oo Nwoye had invited us to help the students get some entrepreneurship experience. I was also to see how they could become a part of the Bandwidth Consortium for access to proper Internet connectivity like we provide members such as American University of Nigeria, Yola.
Anyway, there I was in the car provided by the surprisingly friendly Madam Ibru and somewhere on my way to the Asaba Airport, I had a vision. I mean a real vision which was like a dream that flashed before me while I was awake; In the vision, I saw my wife weeping profusely with people trying to comfort her and though I was present in spirit, I could not comfort her because she could not hear me or see me.
As I snapped out of it, I started to pray in the Holy Spirit and declare that there would be no evil and my wife would not lose me. I prayed till my heart was at peace and I relaxed. I’ve been flying frequently for well over a decade and I generally don’t worry.
Some 2 hours later, I had boarded the small twin-propeller aircraft that Arik Air used for the Asaba-Abuja route. We taxied and were taking off seemingly without any issues until I suddenly noticed the pilot rev up and climb very steeply. Maybe he needs to go to the toilet really urgently, I thought to myself, though I was a bit peeved at the “poor driving”.
Within a minute of that little incidence, I observed the right engine go quiet. I was seated over-wing so I peeped out of my window and indeed, the propeller on my side was slowing down. “Okay, Jesus, here I come!”, I thought to myself. We hadn’t gone so high up and I could make out tree tops and little houses. I looked around the cabin at the other passengers but they were blissfully unaware. No point panicking them and giving the pilots more to worry about.
The intercom beeped and the cabin crew who was sat facing passengers answered the call with a very straight face betraying no emotion. The emotionless face confirmed to me that the pilot had given him grave news but he sat there perfectly still without saying anything.
Since I couldn’t do anything, I grabbed my camera and started to take pictures as the pilots trying to do a one-winged float towards a city I assumed was Benin. A couple of minutes after (I assume the pilot had gotten confirmation from Benin that we could come in), the pilot’s voice came over the PA system “Good afternoon, this is your Captain speaking; We apologize that we will be landing in Benin shortly due to a technical problem. The ground staff will advise you further on arrival.”
#yimu. I smiled to myself since I knew we were only flying on the left engine and he would have to maneuver well to land like that.
After a curved float, we were lined up with the runway and we had one heck of a shaky landing with the left engine trying to propel us rightward off the runway but the pilots did a good job keeping us on the tarmac.
Have you even wondered who is the guy that starts the clapping when planes land? I met him that day. One Lebanese chap was busy chatting with his friend all through the journey but after the forced landing, he heard that an engine had actually failed. “You mean the engine stopped?!” he asked. As he got confirmation in the affirmative, he started to clap and other passengers joined in as the plane taxied to a halt.
After getting off the plane, I still did aluta to ensure the airline accommodated us stranded passengers overnight before the morning flight to Abuja.
On our way to the Hotel, I was seated close to the older (East European?) pilot and I told him I was aware it was an engine failure and asked why they had climbed so steeply when we took off. He sighed and responded that the engine actually flashed a warning while we were leaving the ground and the best option was to hit the throttle hard so we could get good height. That desperate climb was what I observed before the engine went quiet.
I was just saw a picture of the entrepreneurship event on facebook from a year ago and the memories returned. I may have written a post about it then. Or maybe not. Done now in detail. I guess another reminder was that we flew through one heck of a rainstorm (45 minutes of rain and air pockets at night) coming back from Yola 4 days ago.
Thank you, God, for saving my life time and time again. You know I still have many questions, though.