The First Flight into the Future that Could Have Been the Second

The Flight

The Flight

Throw-back to Saturday, 21 January 1995. Smiling ear to ear dressed for the “occasion” in my tie bought at the then Bergers Store 🙂 Here I was flying out of Malawi on a long trip to USA. To a world that I had only previously read about and heard about in the news but where I was looking forward to go and write a few chapters of my life. This was my first flight ever. The first that I thought wasn’t supposed to be the first at all. Before this, the only times when I had ever stepped out of my home country Malawi were around Dedza area while traveling to or from Lilongwe. There, we would stop to buy some roadside merchandise from vendors along a stretch of the main road where one side of the road is Malawi while the other is Mozambique.

Why could this have been my second flight? Because in the previous year, there was a flight that could have been the first, but I missed it by a few minutes. We were supposed to fly from the capital city Lilongwe to the commercial hub Blantyre where we were going to demonstrate to commercial banks a solution that we were developing aimed at streamlining the reconciliation of foreign exchange transactions between the banks and the Central Bank where I worked. On the trip, I went with the Project Sponsor, a Supervisor from the then Exchange Control Department. On that day, I left work early to get ready for the trip and I was all ready to go hours before the flight. My colleague had flown many times before and according to him, taking the 4 hours coach or flying to Blantyre did not make much of a difference. Therefore he took his time attending a few meetings at work before going home to prepare. Behold, one of the meetings took longer than expected. He came with a driver to collect me at my home in Area 18 about 45 minutes before the flight’s departure time. The driver assured us that he would get us to the Kamuzu International Airport in good time for us to catch our flight.

Off we went and a few minutes later after passing Kanengo Industrial Area, from the main road, we could see from afar the airport on the left hand side. I was excited to see the flashing lights on the plane and the lights of the airport vehicles shining under the belly of “my first flight”. We took the left turn into the airport road and I had butterflies in my stomach. I prayed that I should not embarrass my colleague during the flight for I had heard of a legend which said that on their first flight, most people would throw up. We drove up to the entrance of the airport building. I confidently and expectantly stepped out of the vehicle. I was excited to hear the buzzing engines of the Boeing 737-300. When we got to the check-in counter, my jaw dropped when I found out that the engines that I was excited about were indeed of my first flight ever but it was a flight that was already on its way to the runway. My jaw dropped even further when I noticed that my colleague was not fazed at all by what had just transpired. He calmly said “well, that is alright. We will just go by coach tomorrow and enjoy the views along the way”. I said to myself, “Really? Alright with missing this flight? For him, yes. But not for me”. Well, well, I guess that wasn’t meant to be the first flying experience. This one was meant to be the first one; on a British Airways 747; back in the days when many world airlines used to queue up their jumbo jets for their turns on the runways at the Kamuzu International Airport. They shall queue up again.



About Hastings Fukula Nyekanyeka Betha

Born in Malawian and advocate of community mobilization, citizens' active participation in sustainable community development, and youth empowerment. Primarily focusing on "Organizing Against Poverty" by encouraging a new generation of players to participate in and influence the development of our communities
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