Kenyan Pilot Recalls Saving 100 Passengers After Captain Collapsed on Board

  • A plane with a shattered windscreen
    A plane with a shattered windscreen
    File
  • Retired pilot Peter Maranga has seen it all in his 30 years of experience in the skies.

    The accomplished retired captain flew his last flight on Father’s Day in June 2020 with his son as the first officer, which was a very emotional moment for him.

    During a past interview, he narrated the most fearful flight of his 30-year career which has seen him fly President Uhuru Kenyatta in the cockpit as well as his predecessor the late Daniel Arap Moi.

    Retired Captain Peter Maranga during his last flight with his son First Officer Emmanuel Maranga
    Retired Captain Peter Maranga during his last flight with his son First Officer Emmanuel Maranga
    File

    Maranga narrated that on the fateful day, he had felt the urge to ask his wife to pray for him. 

    The flight was scheduled to leave JKIA, Nairobi to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and he was the co-pilot on the Boeing 737 plane which carries more than 120 passengers.

    The duo took off from JKIA without any hitches but minutes later the flight turned into a nightmare. 

    As the two banked the plane to take the direction of the flight, they crashed into a flock of around 20 large marabou stocks.

    The impact of the crash shattered the windscreen, throwing pieces of glass into the cockpit and shortly after, the captain collapsed and started bleeding from wounds on his face.

    Acting quickly, Maranga new he was supposed to wear his hero cap and take charge of the plane.

    He explained that the aircraft started behaving as though it would break apart due to the pressure imbalance from the shattered windscreen.

    “I declared an emergency and requested a return to Nairobi. On our way back, there was a huge gushing sound, like the wind was coming into the plane,” he recalled.

    “I knew the plane would break any moment. It was the longest flight back even though it was just for a few minutes,” the former Kenya Air Force serviceman narrated. 

    The retired pilot, who is now 65 years old, handed the baton to his son Emmanuel Maraga on his last flight in June. 

    Kenya Airways honoured the special Fathers Day moment by changing the flight’s call sign from KQ 2319 to Maranga 2319.

    Watch Captain Maranga's final flight on Fathers Day 2020 below:

    The complexity and dynamic environment along a flight path calls for pilots to make life and death decisions in a split second to save the lives of those on board. 

    They are taught to be call and keep a cool head to be able to make many analytical calculations without risking the lives of passangers.

    In the last few months, Kenya has witnessed many plane crashes, with three being reported in July and August alone. 

    The number of Kenyan planes also crashing in Somalia have been on the rise with one crashing in Beledweyne, Somalia on Tuesday, July 14 after trying to avoid hitting a donkey on the runway.Another Kenyan plane has suffered an air accident after crash-landing in Bardere, Gedo region in Somalia on Sunday, July 5, under unclear circumstances.