Early sunrise is glorious; more so if one is able to see the early sun gradually rise from the horizon. For Captain Osdi this was one of those glorious moments he frequently experienced watching from the cockpit of his Delta Dragon Air DC10 freighter. A beautiful morning indeed, never to be forgotten, as the first rays of the rising sun leant in an aura of internal bliss.
The whole perimeter of the Sipai International airport was enveloped in the orange golden hue of the rising sun. Osdi looked at his chronometer. August 16 1976, 0600hrs, the engines of the aircraft parked at the end of the tarmac of Runway 029 were idling at half throttle, waiting, both, the pilot and the aircraft, together as one body, the final clearance for from the ATC.
The clearance ultimately did came through the crackle of the head phones , Osdi eased the throttle stick forward ,and the freighter rushed down the runway till ultimately the nose rose and the giant bird leapt into the arms Ohh the orange hued sky.
The freighter’s climb was gradual into the arms of the vast sky, Osdi glanced at the altimeter and watched with satisfaction the gain in altitude. Everything normal as expected. An expectation of everything being normal in all aspects in daily life is every ones desire, and it was also so for Captain Osdi and his crew, and with only few moments left for leveling out to maintain the prescribed height and cruising speed.
Yes everything seemed to fall in place as normal as normally should, till the unexpected off the norm happens. So it did happen to the DC-10 trijet freighter .A hard jarring jolt, loud bang and sudden loss of power were clear indication that not all was well with the starboard ail engine.
It was a flame out, with ugly orange plumes of flame and thickening black fumes trailing behind from the exhaust. A situation of near panic arose in the cockpit amongst the flight crew, but with years of flying and flying hours, the standard operating procedures in case of emergencies like this flashed in sequence in the mind of Osdi ,and he immediately started ticking off instructions to his co-pilot, fuel supply off to the starboard engine built in extinguishers on to douse the flames and cool the engine down ,were all taken in quick succession, then the fuel supply to the port engine was cut as safety measure, with simultaneous power increase in tail jet engine.
Gradually the situation came into semblance of control, but the aircraft had an ugly tilt to the port as the flaps on the starboard side jammed with the hard dried and thick fire retardant foam, thus a struggle for Osdi and his crew to keep the aircraft in flying condition. Osdi informed Sipai International ATC of the May Day situation, and immediately clearance was given to for approach landing on Runway 014.
The air craft tilted to port and gradually the fuel tanks were emptied, same procedure repeated with starboard, leaving sufficient fuel to make just safe landing back at Sipai International. With this final procedure complete, and with tail jet engine at full powerOsdi took a wide banking turn towards Sipai International.
The ATC at Sipai International watched on the radar the blip of Delta Dragon Two Two Seven’s approach on glide path to runway 014 till it disappeared. Yes disappeared. A momentary shocked ATC immediately informed about the disappearance of the aircraft, and within few hours rescue operations were initiated.
A day passed, another, then another, week, a month, and then few months, still no trace of the aircraft or its wreckage was found in the open terrain of the whole country.
That was surprising, as the country side was plain with no mountains or sea nearby, and yet the transponder of the ill-fated jet gave its call sign, still no trace of the aircraft. Again months years passed, still the transponder kept giving its call sign. Few more years and the mystery of the disappearance of the DC-10 freighter, Captain Osdi and his crew was written off as an air mishap and the whole chapter was recorded in the annals of air disasters.
Time waits for no one. Changes take place, they have to as change is the only thing that is constant. Sipai International grew in size and became a world class airport matching global standards of an international airport. Old gave way to the new, better runways, aircrafts acquisitions and mergers all happened. Delta Dragon Air was no more having been acquired by new management and subsequently having been
lost into oblivion of brevity of human memory. The incidence of flight Delta Dragon Two Two Seven became part of that.
The ATC manning the control tower at Sipai Global, as it was now called on the morning of August 16 2006 watched from the tower the whole perimeter of the airport glow in the early morning golden rays, the mood was meditative.
Meditative till a blip caught his attention on the radar screen. An uncalled for unexpected aircraft was on glide path to disused runway 014.
The ATC immediately called out for identification to the approaching aircraft.
Response was immediate: “Delta Dragon Two Two Seven on emergency approach cleared for 014“
Equally surprised the ATC:” What clearance?
Delta Dragon Two Two Seven: “At 0700hhrs reported engine flame out and was cleared for landing
approach on 014”
Now from the Tower the AT could see a crippled aircraft approaching 014.No time for further investigations. Those can wait till the aircraft landed. Immediately the emergency services were informed, fire services, defense personnel, medics all rushed to the end of the tarmac of 014.
The aircraft did land, a perfect landing and halted at the end of 014, with all the emergency services vehicles surrounding it. The marking and name of the aircraft kept every one present in high level of drama and suspense. Captain Osdi and his crew disembarked from the aircraft.
Captain Osdi looked around and said with a trembling surprise:” This is Sipai International, I suppose?”
“Was some five years back now it is Sipai Global”, somebody shot back the information to him.
“Sipai global? Sipai Global!!” repeated Osdi first as question then as a surprise.An hour back it was Sipai International and you say five years!!!!” Osdi and his crew looked around in surprise at now new faces.
None seemed familiar. Or was it so? “Junaid! Junaid Osdi is it you?”,called out the chief administrator of the airport . “Saleem Hazra, is that you? “said Osdi in frustrated surprise, what has happened to you how have you become so old?
Saleem embraced Osdi and patted his back and asked :”Where were you all these 30 years. We had given the aircraft as lost”
“Thirty Years! What do you mean we took off at 0600 hours and now it is only 0730 hours!!! What date ist it?
“16th August 2006”, was a quiet, sad and grim replay from Junaid. You see everything did not go normal for Osdi and his crew, the Time for them did take a rather long Wink when Osdi had steeply banked his aircraft on approach back to Sipai International.
Wonder if Time’s Wink does exist. Who knows? Perhaps you know?