The Road to Istanbul

My 61st post in 6.5/7 months was meant to be about my graduation. Instead, I'll share this testimony with you. What you didn't know is that when I was sharing the 2 How to Style Floral heels posts, I had just survived a nearly fatal experience. ------------------- Less than 24 hours after my graduation, I hopped on a Lufthansa flight. Where exactly was I going? Why did I have to leave my family and friends who came in from different cities to celebrate with me that weekend?

I packed, got to the airport and we took off. Or so I thought. I vividly recall reading a book and falling asleep after I thought we had taken off. I'm still not sure if I was awake for take off or not. I later woke up and the person beside me, a ship captain apparently, told me "You know we're going back, right?". No, please stop. "Are you joking?". I really thought this was this man's way of making fun of me for sleeping so early into the flight, but he was dead serious. Then I looked out and saw a streak of gas coming out of the plane. I didn't think much of it at the time. So I kept talking to this passenger. "Did you hear the announcement?". Biko (please), what announcement could I have missed? Then he continued, "the pilot said that he was having difficulty retracting the landing gear...". I woke up. He continued, "even with the emergency technique".

This was all gibberish to me as I only knew of taxi, take-off and landing. From a little research I just did, planes cannot fly long distances with the landing gear extended and since we were heading to Frankfurt, our transit destination, this was a huge no. According to this ship captain, he could sense that something was wrong because we left around 7pm instead of 5:45pm and circled around for quite a bit before the pilot made the announcement. So by 8:30pm when I woke up, we were already heading back to our point of origin.

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Concerning that streak of gas I saw earlier, the man explained that the pilot had to dump jet fuel for about 10 minutes in order for us to land safely. Let me put this in perspective. Our plane was fully loaded with jet fuel to last the duration of the flight and since this fuel had barely been spent, it had to be relieved of that weight to fall within the allowed maximum structural landing weight. There was also a huge possibility of the plane bursting into flames once it hits the runway. To avert the severity of this fire, it was best to dump off most of the jet fuel. Great! Is this how it was going to end? A day after my college graduation?

God did what He alone can do and we landed safely, albeit rather forcefully. An applause of relief echoed throughout the plane and I was immediately reminded of Nigeria. We seemed to be going way too fast and in my fear, I hoped that we would at least stop right at the end of the runway; I didn't know if the brakes were affected too. But we were just fine. The crew instructed us to remain on the flight while the maintenance team tried to get spare parts. When this failed, obviously, we were let off the plane and each given a room in the Marriott Hotel, transportation included. I got my taxi voucher, went to the ticketing desk which was closed then headed to the Marriott. After checking into the hotel, I had a small dinner just as the kitchen was closing at midnight. Then I took a taxi home and crawled into my bed...it was great to see my parents again!

The next morning, I called in and got transferred to Delta. On our way to New York, as the plane taxied, the pilot announced that no planes were landing in JFK at the moment due to traffic...or something of the sort. By this time, I was already murmuring to God that if He does not approve of this trip, I would very much love to go home and eat my graduation jollof rice. I just couldn't understand what was happening! An hour before my flight to Istanbul (finally!), I got a call about a departure time change from 5:03pm to 6:15pm. Then our gate got changed and the departure time was moved to 6:45pm, then 7:30pm then to 7:50pm, all because the plane had not arrived. We eventually boarded at 8:15pm and probably left much later. At this point, I was too tired to care. What an ordeal!

Thankfully, I arrived in Istanbul safely and because I was in constant communication with the program directors, they all understood and everyone was incredibly welcoming and concerned. I had already missed some days of the program but I am so grateful to God that I eventually made it there. This was such a huge opportunity and I would have hated to miss it. It will take me a while to forget the ship captain saying, "If the pilot had been able to take the landing gear up the emergency way, who knows?. It just makes you think, you know?".

In the next post, I'll reveal why I went to Istanbul, with pictures of course. And my trip back home was less dramatic. Thanks for asking :)