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The Good Pilot

I leaned forward towards the hefty man seated in front of me. He had a big head with spiky dark grey hair around a shiny brown bald patch on top. “Are we flying over South West?” I asked.

Half turning round, I could see the side of his face had a puzzled look. “Namibia” I said. He nodded and I looked out the window and to my astonishment I saw trees.

The jumbo jet plowed through a fence and came out at the edge of a cliff. I could see big animals, like rhinoceros and Giraffe roaming in the plain below.

This was a Japanese airline flight, and Ettie and I were en route for Israel. We had departed from Oliver Tambo airport about 6 hours earlier and should have been near Tel Aviv. Yet here we were still in Africa. This was a very slow flight indeed, I thought to myself.

But it was one of the most pleasant I’d ever had.

It was the first time I’d had fresh air cooling me off coming out of vents in the blue seat in front of me. I pointed this out to Ettie and she shrugged and said, “all airlines have these openings”,

"why didn’t you tell me about them before"? I asked her, a little annoyed that all the years of flying I had suffered from lack of cool air. I thought of all the flights I’d taken that could have been more pleasant, had she properly informed me. She took for granted that everybody knows these things.

Now we were moving slowly over the bushy ground. Squirrels appeared outside my window, gathering nuts, chewing and chattering with each other. Now and again the hairy little grey brown creatures looked up and gazed at the giant apparatus that should have been airborne, and was here crawling on the surface amongst them.

The way they carried on munching, showed they weren’t dismayed to see this phenomenon. They took it for granted that strange things happened in this world, and soon became ordinary things, not worth more than a glance. Certainly the event didn’t warrant stopping their foraging or running away in panic. I knew the thought they had in their minds, namely, it might be interesting to get into that massive container of eyes, staring out at them through windows.

I would have liked to be sure that the airplane was hermetically sealed, so that their entry into our space would be impossible. Such an event would disrupt our pleasant flight and ground experience.

I felt gratitude for the pilot for doing such a great job in giving us this experience. One doesn’t come across pilots like that too often, who are ready to go out of their way to give passengers a fun time.

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