Flight Over No Man's Land
Flight Over No Man's Land
Disclaimer - The story below is a fiction based on pure imagination and nowhere does it connect to any real-life event or characters.
Captain Amar with his Co-pilot lieutenant Samir had just settled in their seats after the plane had taken off and was high above in the clouds. Then all of a sudden they could hear a commotion from the passenger area and one man came suddenly rushing in into the cockpit. Before anybody could decide anything the stranger was on the two pilots with a gun cried, " This is a hold-up. We are in control now. Do as we tell you if you fear for your and your passenger's lives." The imposter, a masked man, then grabbed the microphone from Captain Amar and announced in a heavy voice, " Dear passengers, your plane has been hijacked. But do not worry, we will not harm you if you do not try and act smart. "
The imposter introduced himself as ' Dinesh', an identity doubted by Amar, and said he had two friends with him to help carry on this mission. The other two were guarding the passenger console. Dinesh ordered the two pilots to help direct the plane to a place beyond the hills in the Hindu kush mountain ranges. Incidentally, this flight was on a routine trip between two tier-II cities from Ambikapur to Dharmapur at a distance of less than a thousand kilometers. This was an initiative under the government's recent plan to connect smaller towns with air connections.
Captain Amar told Dinesh that this was a small aeroplane with flying capabilities of half an hour to an hour at a stretch. The fuel carrying was also sufficient to cover this small distance. The flying journey was in the eastern part of the country. To fulfill the demands just laid down was next to impossible considering the distance and the fuel in store. Flying towards the Hindu kush mountains situated thousands of kilometers away in the North West was beyond the wildest capabilities of this little plane.
Captain Amar himself was a veteran having a flying experience of fifteen years and between himself and lieutenant Samir had a combined flying time of several thousand hours. They both had just returned from a long haul international flight and before going for a rest they had been given the charge of a short domestic flight.
The reason which Amar had given to the hijacker Dinesh fell into deaf ears. Even Amar showed him the fuel gauge with the reading saying that with this much of fuel in reserve they could fly for another one hour at most. Flying towards the Hindu kush mountains which has a flying distance of beyond three hours was well nigh impossible. Also there the terrain was over high mountains as a result there would be a lot of drag and fuel consumption would be high. Dinesh felt that they were being tricked and did not believe what the captain said.
Dinesh called up one of his accomplices and ordered him to take charge of the cockpit until he did a quick reconnoiter of the passenger bay. At first count, Dinesh found about fifty passenger heads in the bay with no children. Having no children was a big relief because there would be little diversion. Women count was also negligible and most passengers were past their youth. Dinesh was satisfied with the passenger mix. The passengers were dumbstruck and terrified with the sudden fear of their security. Dinesh announced with a big twinkle in his eyes saying that they would harm no one. They just wanted to land safely at a place already described to the captain. After landing, each and every passenger would be safely sent back home. But if anyone tried to act smart then it may spell the doom for the passenger along with the others. So he asked everybody to cooperate.
Dinesh again took up a position at the Cockpit. Meanwhile, he found the plane flying over high mountains. Dinesh was feeling relieved that their destination was nearing. Amar had subtly directed the flight eastwards away from the original direction and was flying north. Very soon they were flying over the Himalayas and beyond a small neighboring country. The air traffic was trying to contact the cockpit but Lt Samir could not respond as Dinesh was constantly guarding the console.
After a few further minutes of flying, Amar told Dinesh that they were making preparations for landing. At this sudden announcement, Dinesh was puzzled. From the landscape below he could make out they were nowhere near to their familiar destination. Amar showed him the arrow on the fuel meter showing reading zero. Amar said that they had just sufficient fuel for landing. Dinesh refused to obey and gave orders to fly on. Amar again warned of the grave danger. Dinesh lost his temper and was about to hit Amar when suddenly the plane lurched forward due to an air pocket and Dinesh fell down.
Then Amar and Samir prepared for the landing. A landing they had never done in their flying career. There was no airport, no runway. Just an open tract of flat land devoid of grass, a natural God prepared runway surrounded by high mountains on all sides. With all their combined skills they made a bumpy landing lurching forwards and backward among the rocks and boulders strewn here and there on the rough makeshift runway. It was a huge risk but it ended well. All were safe. The aeroplane might have been damaged which the technicians would later corroborate.
Dinesh announced that everyone should stay put on their seats until further orders. He opened the door and took out his mobile phone to make contact. But to his bitter chagrin, there was no connection. They had landed in a barren piece of land with no signs of civilization anywhere in sight. They were lost forever. Till somebody fortuitously traced them out in this God-forsaken no man's land. Out of super frustration, Dinesh banged the door shut.
There was a loud noise and all of a sudden Amar was awakened. He opened his eyes slowly looking out for the hijackers but he could see none. Then he looked around to find himself in the bed in the hotel room where he had checked in last night after his return from the foreign shores. Then slowly he realized that he just had a bad dream. Being very tired after nonstop flights had drained out all energy from Amar and he had slept like a log. As a result the dream or rather the nightmare. Looking at the watch Amar found that he had to check out immediately otherwise he would be late for the flight to Dharmapur. Then there was a call from Lt Samir asking Amar where he was.
Amar just couldn't wish away the dream right away. He felt there was a deeper meaning to this. He shared his nightmare with Samir and asked him to get a copy of the passenger list and browse for any suspicious characters. On his turn, Amar asked the airport security to provide three crack commandos in civil dress to accompany as passengers and should be allowed to carry firearms. Amar had his reasons and he gave a written declaration for it on his own risk and responsibility soon on reaching the airport.
The plane took off on schedule. Captain Amar and Lt Samir took charge of the cockpit and were settling in their seats when they heard a commotion from behind. Putting the plane on autopilot both Amar and Samir strolled out to peek and see what was happening. What they found took Lt Samir by surprise but Captain Amar though not surprised like Samir was still puzzled. The dream was still rocking him. How someone in his dreams could protect him and his passengers. He found no answers.
The commando leader narrated to Amar that as soon as the plane had steadied in the air these three hoodlums were taking positions at three places in the aircraft probably with the plan of hijacking. Immediately the commandos had overpowered them. Later on, after further interrogation the whole truth would be revealed. The commando further advised Amar to let the air traffic control know the whole incident and alert the destination airport authority to beef up security.
The remaining journey was just routine or perhaps listless but the excitement could not be missed amongst the passengers. They just couldn't believe and thank enough their lucky stars. Captain Amar was felicitated for his special efforts in saving so many lives. Lt. Samir was also given appreciation.