KHARTOUM (Reuters) - A Kenyan Airways plane with 56 passengers on board made an emergency landing in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, after an engine caught fire, witnesses said on Wednesday.
Nobody was hurt, but the incident on Tuesday night left passengers stranded in a country difficult for travel because credit cards do not work in Sudan due to U.S. trade sanctions. Banks change dollars only at a very unfavorable exchange rate compared with the dominant black market.
The Cairo-bound Boeing 737-700 took off in Khartoum after a regular stopover following a flight from Nairobi. But it had to return to the Sudanese capital after 20 minutes, three passengers on board flight KQ 320 told Reuters.
"An engine caught fire and the plane suddenly lost much altitude. The pilot made a sharp turn and returned to Khartoum," said Souhair Mohamed Hawala, an Egyptian passenger. "There was panic on board. People were crying or praying."
Other passengers showed what they said were pictures from the damaged wing and engine of the plane.
A Kenyan Airways official said the plane had returned with an unspecified "engine problem" and needed to be repaired in Sudan. "We don't know the cause yet," he said, adding passengers would be booked on the airline's next flight out of Sudan after 24 hours.
A Cessna 152 is often considered the tricycle of airplanes with more beginners learning on it than any other plane. Nevertheless, flight instructor Aaron Stinson never fails to notice the look of stark terror and amazement on his students’ faces as they near the end of the runway when they have to make a choice: pull up or chicken out.
In the end, many students amaze themselves by taking off in a
plane with no prior experience. After that, their fate is sealed.
They’ve caught the “bug,” as pilots like to call it.
Stinson, the general manager and a flight instructor
at The Flight School in Cypress, has taught flying for more than 10
years. During that time, Stinson has learned to adjust to his student’s
needs. Some are too afraid or too young to fly. Some must put their
education on hold until they have the money.
However, more often than
not, students end up coming back. On average, 60 percent of flight
students become certified pilots at the Flight School, a stark contrast
to the national average flight training drop-out rate of 80 percent.
Price is always a factor in someone’s ability to
become a pilot, but the Flight School strives to make it affordable,
offering some of the lowest rates in the area. An introduction flight
can cost $99 but earning a pilot’s license can cost anywhere from $6,500
to $8,000 depending on how many flight hours are logged. While 40 hours
is the minimum to earn a private pilot’s license, the national average
is 78 hours and the flight school averages 55 hours, said Stinson.
“The majority of people who come in to fly have
always wanted a pilot’s license,” said Stinson. “They think it’s the
neatest thing in the world and they are at a point in their life where
they can afford it and they have the time or a combination of both.”
According to the school’s owner Benjamin Paradis,
students’ high completion rates stem from the schools personalized
training. Paradis and the staff hold monthly meetings with the
instructors to discuss how each student is doing, so more experienced
instructors can offer training tips to help younger pilots through
Stinson believes the schools warmth adds to its appeal.
“We’re trying to make this as laid back as possible
and have fun with it,” said Stinson. “The majority of flight schools are
working to get people to become professional pilots. We can certainly
do that. But the overwhelming majority of our students are businessmen,
stay-at-home moms or lately we got a wonderful influx of stay-at-home
It was this personalized, quality instruction that
helped the school earn the AOPA’s Flight Training Excellence Awards,
said Stinson. According to AOPA only seven schools in the nation are
selected for the honor out of 2,500 nominations. Some of the criterion
includes completion rates, friendliness, curriculum and affordability.
One look inside the Flight School and its warm
atmosphere becomes apparent. A brief scan reveals hundreds of photos of
new pilots, a testament to the number of students who have passed a
milestone in their flying.
“When someone solos for the first time by themselves,
we take a picture or when they actually get their rating as a private
or commercial pilot,” said Stinson.
Stinson has seen children as young as 10 and 12 sign
up to fly even though children have to be 16 to solo and 17 to get their
“Those kids want to be professional pilots but they’re too young right now,” he said. “They get hours as they go.”
In the end, Stinson believes one of the biggest
obstacles keeping people from flying is fear. However, he believes they
“Flying is not unsafe,” he said. “Highway 290 is unsafe.”
The Flight School is located at Weiser Airpark on U.S. 290. For more information, visit http://theflightschooltexas.com.
Story and Photos: http://www.yourhoustonnews.com