"It’s not very comforting when you’re sitting at an airport in Africa, late in the evening, and you’re told that one of the engines on the twin-engine plane you’re about to board has failed.
The UK Foreign Office recommends travellers not to use quite a few blacklisted airlines across Africa. And only a couple of weeks earlier, UK newspapers had been reporting that an internal flight went down somewhere in the African continent.
In the departures lounge, at Kigali, Rwanda, rumours among passengers were gaining momentum as they were passed around. But, there was no escaping the fact that the engine had failed in Nairobi, Kenya. They’d ‘fixed it’. But when the plane arrived at Kigali, it failed again. As one loud lady declared: ‘It sounds like an electrical fault.’
Two hours later, it was ‘fixed’ again. We boarded. Twenty minutes later, as we awaited take-off, it failed again. We disembarked. Back in the departures lounge, some passengers were demanding another plane (there wasn’t one), or a flight the next morning.
One contrary voice declared from experience that it was only a quick hop across to Entebbe, Uganda, and that the plane could probably make it on one engine.
Half an hour later, and it was ‘fixed’ again. Empty seats on board showed that some passengers had decided not to risk it. Others sat crossing themselves, laughing nervously, and striking up a rapport with strangers facing the same plight. A girl sitting next to me declined to hold my hand.
The well-meaning pilot announced that, for sure, the engine would keep running… until the fuel ran out. Then we were airborne. Fate would take its course.
Half an hour later and the plane touched down in Entebbe to great cheers. Those silly people who had refused to board in Kigali would be regretting it now.