When FlySax 5Y-CAC landed at the Kitale Airstrip at 4pm on Tuesday, Peter Wekhomba together with other passengers had waited for more than an hour.
Wekhomba was among nine passengers scheduled to board the Cessna C208 aircraft back to Nairobi.
“I was the first passenger. But something told me not to board. I was already on the staircase when I decided against flying,” Wekhomba told the Star yesterday.
He had seen shaken passengers alight and sensed danger. The aircraft had a turbulent journey from Nairobi.
Wekhomba knew the return trip would also be turbulent.
“It was foggy and windy. The rain was heavy,” he said.
An umbrella he was given to shield himself against the rain was ripped away by the strong winds.
Wekhomba informed flight attendants that he had cancelled his trip and asked for his luggage.
“I resisted their attempts to convince me to proceed with the journey. They gave up and asked a police officer to help me carry away my luggage,” he said.
Two women who had travelled from Nairobi advised Wekhomba to postpone his trip, saying the weather was not favourable.
“They were very shaken. I enquired upon which they told me of their turbulent journey. That when my fears were confirmed,” he said.
True to his instincts, the plane did not land in Nairobi. It crashed in the Aberdare Forest after losing contact with the control tower at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
All the 10 people on board including two crew members died.
The wreckage was sighted yesterday morning by an aerial search team. “It was God’s grace that I escaped the tragedy,” Wekhomba said as he received news of the wreckage.
The Kitale-based farmer said he was a frequent traveller with the aircraft and knew it would not manage the turbulent weather of the day.
“No pilot bothered to assure passengers that the journey would be smooth. With my experience from previous trips, I knew there would be problems,” Wekhomba said.
News of the aircraft missing broke at about 5:30pm.
“My wife was following although I had informed her that I did not travel. I knelt down and prayed for those on board,” he said.
The FlySax-operated aircraft took off from Kitale airstrip in Trans-Nzoia county at 4.05pm on Tuesday. It was expected to fly for an hour and 15 minutes and touch down at the JKIA in Nairobi at 5.20pm.
The plane was last seen on the JKIA radar at 17.20pm, the time it was supposed to land, according to Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCCA) and FlySax.
Yesterday, President Uhuru Kenyatta mourned the dead and condoled with their families and friends.
“They will have every assistance my administration can offer, now and in the days to come,” Uhuru said in his condolence message.