The GPS was now reading less than five minutes to go. The pilot had already started to lower the craft out of the sky. I put my hand to my forehead to shelter my eyes from the sun and peered out and saw more MMBA. And now the pilot did something that worried me quite a lot. He also put his hand to his forehead and looked out. I thought that with all the modern technology at his fingertips he might have been able to pinpoint the airfield, but no. He looked strangely lost.
I saw it first, a strip of neat looking grass amongst the acacia thorn. It was down to my right, nestled on the flat below another large hill. Alongside a small concrete shelter, nothing more, nothing less, and a few 4×4’s glistening in the sunlight. This really was the smallest airport I had ever been to. He dropped the airplane in a series of sharp jolts, just like they do in the big jets that make you wish that you hadn’t had the final Danish. And then he swung the craft round in a wide arc to face back towards Kigoma, and, more importantly, Kibondo airfield.
This was another new experience. So often when you fly, you only get to see out of one side or the other of an aircraft. You often don’t have an inkling for how far away the runway is when you are landing. Here, I could see the runway before the pilot and now, was able to see it getting closer and closer. More frighteningly, I could see the tops of the trees in front of me getting closer and closer too, and the thought of crashing into one of these was also getting larger and larger.
But, no, as ever, my niggling ghosts whenever I fly were laid to rest and we bounced down onto the grass and braked easily as the pilot pulled the engine lever back into neutral then reverse. We braked in a straight line and he taxied to the waiting reception party.