I had never flown into or out of Nairobi airport but had visited it on many occasions. Although having not crossed the barriers at passport control, I do have an anecdote or two.
My siblings were due to return from boarding school in England, their flight took them via Athens for refuelling. As the aircraft was heading down the runway, the pilot took longer than usual to attain sufficient speed for lift off. At the end of the runway was a wall and beyond that an olive grove. The pilot just missed the wall and in doing so picked up an unwanted passenger.
As the family were waiting on the observation deck at Nairobi airport, there was a hive of activity as fire engines and ambulances rushed along the runway. The flight from Athens was landing with an olive tree embedded in its undercarriage.
To everyone’s relief the aircraft landed safely. As the passengers disembarked and cameras were clicking, my brother’s only worry was that he was wearing his school’s straw boater. He wasn’t entitled to wear it yet – as you had to be in a certain year – and the headmaster might see photographs of him in the newspapers back in England. Ironically, we drove back to the house to listen to our favourite radio programme ‘The Flying Doctor’.
I was too old to visit the lavatory with my mother and yet too young to be left alone in the airport terminal, so I was dragged into the ‘Ladies’. While waiting outside my mother’s cubicle, a man walked into the convenience. After telling my mother, she loudly let it be known that he was not welcome in here. Having completed our visit and on leaving the facility we found a large queue of men outside the door. My mother’s eyesight wasn’t that good, she had taken me into the gentlemen’s lavatory.
On one visit to the airport, we heard that all flights were being delayed due to a warthog on the runway. Two hunters were dispatched and returned a little while later with the unfortunate trespasser slung under a pole held between them.