What could have turned out to be an air mishap Tuesday was averted by the experience of the Arik pilot of Flight W 3788 conveying over 100 passengers, including Anambra State Governor, Mr. Peter Obi, from Lagos to Asaba.
Right from the outset, there were ominous signs that the Asaba-bound flight was going to be an eventful one. The flight, which was supposed to take off at 8:30 am was delayed in Lagos because of bad weather. Though travellers had boarded the plane, after about two hours inside the plane, they were asked to disembark and return to the departure lounge as the plane could not take off because of what the pilot called "terribly bad weather at Asaba."
After about three hours delay, the passengers boarded the plane again because weather reports showed improvement within the internationally accepted landing standards.
However, when the boarding call came the second time, many people who sensed the situation as a providential warning had already cancelled their trips.
On getting to Asaba, the weather was bad again. Attempts at landing was difficult. Not wanting to take chances, the pilot promptly returned to Lagos. But on reaching Lagos, the weather had already gone bad by aviation standard, forcing the plane to circle around for hours amidst dwindling aviation fuel.
It finally landed at 4:45 pm amidst sighs of relief from the traumatised passengers who clapped in jubilation. The pilot, Captain Sandy Miller, merely told the passengers to thank God for His mercies when they got home.
Speaking to aviation correspondents on the incident, Obi, who had travelled to South Africa on Sunday and came back yesterday to Lagos, said he was determined to make the flight to Asaba en route to Awka, the Anambra State capital, because he did not like staying outside the town more days than necessary.
Moreover, he said he had already planned so many things he would have done at home Tues day.
When he was persistently asked those things, he reluctantly said that he had projects to inspect such as the progress work at Upper-Iweka, the drainage challenge at Ogidi as well as the site for the construction of Agulu Lake Hotel Resort, which, according to him, would take off in a few days.
Obi said following discussion with some investors in South Africa that requested land to build their facility in Anambra and some existing ones that want to expand, that he planned to visit some identified sites for consideration.
"I have planned to treat many files in the night," Obi said. On whether he was frightened, the governor laughed, saying nothing again should be frightening to a person that governs a state like Anambra.
Moreover, he said he was always at peace with his God and fellow human beings to worry over the vicissitudes of life.
Speaking on the experience, one of the passengers, Mr. Donald Emeh, said as a frequent flyer, he was used to such situations. He nevertheless gave glory to God for safe landing at last.
He jokingly described how those on board turned into emergency prayer warriors, casting and binding the spirit of a plane crash.
Majority Leader of Delta State House of Assembly, Hon. Chief Igbuyo, who along other government officials were on board the flight, said the incident was instructive on why one should be prepared at all times for death.