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Screaming and babbling woman sparks pre-takeoff panic

September 3, 2013 Aviation, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59A plane was about to take off when a female passenger began screaming at the top of her voice that she wanted to get off the aircraft. The woman then lapsed into incomprehensible babbling.

The peculiar behaviour severely unnerved other passengers on the Aero Contractors flight from Nigeria’s capital, Lagos, to the southern Nigerian city of Benin at the weekend. Passengers and crew first tried to ignore the woman, All Africa Vanguard reported, but as the plane progressed down the runway, her piercing screams made that difficult, “thus causing panic onboard”. 250x250TICBanner

At the last minute, the pilot aborted the takeoff and returned to the gate, where the screaming woman was removed. Passengers, many of whom were quite shaken up by the episode, were disembarked and the whole plane checked by Aviation Security (AVSEC) of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), causing a two-hour delay.

A witness told the newspaper: “The situation was not funny at all. In fact, the woman was speaking in a language which no one understood.”

Presumably, cabin crew understood her screams to be let off the plane.

Flight crew in Nigeria have been on high alert since another weird incident on the same route (but in the opposite direction) less than a week ago, when a teenage stowaway managed to climb into a plane’s “wheel well”, or landing gear bay and survive a 35-minute domestic flight.

In that case, the young teenager sprinted across a runway at Benin airport and boarded an Arik Air flight by climbing into the wheel well. Even though he was seen, the plane appears to have taken off regardless.

Pandemonium broke out at Lagos airport when disembarking passengers saw the teenager emerge from the undercarriage to join fellow travellers as if nothing unusual had happened.

That incident triggered a slanging match between FAAN and Arik Air (West Africa’s largest commercial airline), with FAAN alleging that despite the possible presence of the boy in the wheel well, the pilots chose to take off regardless.

The teenager survived in apparent good health, probably because the flight was brief and the plane may not have risen above 25,000 feet (7620 metres).

Domestic flights in Nigeria seem to be passing through an interesting phase.

Written by : Peter Needham

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