An Arik Air Pilot that Deserves a Raise

We often find it easier to criticize people for what they have done wrong. It is only on few occasions that good deeds receive the needed accolades.

An Arik Air pilot impressed me yesterday so I have decided to praise him here.

Flight No W3 0077 was scheduled to stop over in Freetown and Banjul before reaching its final destination, Dakar; from where it would turn back, stop over again in Banjul and Freetown before finally returning to Lagos.

I was on that flight yesterday morning; heading for Freetown.

As usual, we did not leave Lagos on time; but not for too long. We were told the holdup was due to some issues about luggage identification.

I could understand.

Checking into that flight was so chaotic with some traders loading heavy luggage into the plane as if their goods were meant for all the citizens of Sierra Leone, Gambia, and Senegal combined.

Anyway, we finally left Lagos with the pilot apologizing for the delay and assuring us of a smooth ride; but with an expectation of some slight turbulence.

Nothing to worry about. We are used to that.

I could notice from the pilot’s accent that he’s from one of the Asian countries. ‘He must be a chon-chon,’ I thought.

But I couldn’t get his name aright.

Lungi Airport in Freetown was our first stop and there wasn’t any spectacular incident until we were about to commence our descent.

The pilot addressed us once more; gave some weather information; and wished those of us disembarking a nice stay in Freetown.

But he added something that kept me wondering. He said the weather condition on our approach to Freetown was “not bad.”

‘Not bad? What did he mean by that?’ I pondered.

I expected him to have said the weather was fine.

Well, I concluded that he’s a chon chon man and both statements probably meant the same thing to him.

It didn’t take too long before I understood exactly what that pilot meant by “not bad.”

We suddenly found ourselves inside tick darkness. It was as if day had swiftly turned to night. Yet there wasn’t any eclipse!

Com’on, it had nothing to do with the pilot’s grammar. He knew what he was trying to say. The weather was ‘not bad’ by his definition, but it was not fine either!

The cloudy condition was scary, most especially for a passenger like me that sat on the window seat by the plane’s right wing.

Hmmm, the palongo dance commenced as the plane started wrestling with the stubborn clouds and ravenous winds.

I could feel the unusual speed of the Boeing 737/800 aircraft. The heavy machine was apparently furious with the weather; refusing to budge in spite of being tossed left and right.

Your guess about the mood of the passengers is as good as mine. There was an uneasy quietness in the cabin and I could easily read the people’s minds.

Finally, after what appeared to be an eternity, I heard the whistling of the plane’s landing gears. It was a familiar sound.

We were about to touch down. Thank God.

“Cabin crew, prepare for landing,” the pilot announced.

‘Ope o.’ I whispered.

‘But are we really close to the ground?’ I wondered.

I couldn’t see anything. It was raining heavily, and the storms weren’t friendly at all.

Everywhere was dark – really, really cloudy!

‘Anyway, since the man said we were landing, who am I to question his authority.’ I reasoned.

All of a sudden, I felt a massive jolt and found myself lifted and facing up. It was like being inside a space shuttle that had just taken off.

Vuuuuuuu!!!!, the plane roared back into the sky.

“Oh my God, we can’t land,” panicked the man seated behind me.

The plane was moving up again at top speed and the passengers started looking outside the windows as if about to jump out.

The battle continued between the plane and the angry weather, but after a while there was calm.

The pilot’s now familiar voice came on air again.

He told us that he had to zoom back into the sky “because we couldn’t see the runway.”

‘Eeeeh? Couldn’t see the runway ke?’ One woman shouted.

The pilot didn’t stop at that. He said we were now heading for the top of the sea with the aim of trying the runway from another end.

Look, one knows a good pilot when in a challenging situation in the air. That Arik pilot is great. He kept on playing football with the stubborn weather as if to prove that man is truly made to be king over all conditions.

As he looked for a way out, some disturbing thoughts started running through my mind.

‘Eeeh eeeh, this Freetown is surrounded by mountains oooh. Hope this man can see them with this rough weather;

But why can’t he just abort this landing attempt? Must we stop in Freetown by force?

‘Can’t he just take us to Banjul? Abi he doesn’t even have enough fuel?

‘Is he in some trouble or what? Hope he’s not planning to land on water oooh, hmmm?’

Lungi Airport, Freetown is actually at the edge of the sea. When your plane lands there, you have to take a ferry or boat to town, following which you can then enter into a vehicle to take you to your final destination in Freetown. You will repeat thesame process when getting out of the city.

That’s why people joke that going to Freetown involves travelling by air, by sea, and by road – three different methods of transportation for a single trip!

Praise God! We could see the ground faintly now. We would be landing in Freetown after all.

But wait a minute, it was the sea! Brownish sea… not the ground!

The sea color must have changed to brown on account of the erosions flowing into it.

Next second, it was as if the plane’s belly was already touching the sea. My hand could have scooped up some water if I had stretched it out of the window.

Another second… I could see the fence of the airport.

Next… I could see rainwater everywhere in the airport surroundings.

Finally… the dark tarmac.

And there we were…

We landed safely!

I expected the passengers to clap for the brave pilot as they do in other climes. But for where? Some people had already started leaving their seats before the plane got to a final stop. The people wanted to get out as quickly as possible.

That pilot was my hero yesterday and remains so today.

One will appreciate his efforts on realizing that the number one cause of air mishaps is said to be human errors. The man acted professionally.

As I left the airport for the seashore to start the next lap of my journey into Freetown, a number of “What ifs” began to wrestle in my mind.

We all live by grace on a daily basis. It is only the Heavenly Mercies that continue to sustain each one of us.

But Arik Air Management should reward that pilot on my behalf. Let them double his salary with “immediate effect and alacrity.”

It’s an order…from the above.

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5 thoughts on “An Arik Air Pilot that Deserves a Raise”

  1. I believe GOD was at work especially on you guise yesterday.

    Congratssss!!!. May HE continue to save you in all your trips.

    For the pilot, i equally share your sentiment.

  2. i love your passion,the whole drama was unique and awesome,continue the good work

  3. Oga, good morning, and weldone sir. We really thanks God for ur life, and for that trip! Remember that Yoruba chorus sir? ‘Oke t’alagbara gun tonmi hele/2x oun l’omo Olorun gun, to pada wa dupe; Oke t’alagbara gun tonmi hele!’ It surely calls for THANKSGIVING sir. Meanwhile, u wouldn’t believe sir, dt despite my sense of Geography, Im just discovering via ds piece dt ‘going to Freetown involves travelling by air, sea & road!’ and what a discovery sir! Big thanks to MEGA INSIGHTS!!!!! KEEP THE GOOD WORK GOING SIR. Wish u travel mercy back IJN.

  4. am happy for you ooooo. may the almighty Allah continue to save us all.

    I join you in calling for an increase in the pilots pay.
    I hope all will recognise the good did of others not waiting for post motem awards,

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