Lungpinglak is an Indian pilot serving with MAF in Uganda.
Story by Lungpinglak Domtta
Have you ever experienced a flat tyre on your car, motorbike or cycle? I’m sure many of you would have dealt with it quite easily, carrying spare tyres and necessary tools with you should such a situation arise… Have you ever wondered what happens if an aircraft has a flat tyre? Are spare tyres and tools carried on board? Before I share this story, let me quickly tell you what can happen when you experience a flat tyre on an aircraft. If you don’t anticipate it, the aircraft can go off the runway centreline to the side, causing a minor incident.
Recently I experienced the second flat tyre of my flying career. This time was a little different from the previous one. If you remember, almost a year ago, I had a flat tyre on landing and managed to stop the aircraft on the runway with no incident. This time, it happened between flights while I was in transit, picking up a passenger about 360 km from our base in Kajjansi, Uganda. With no engineer, spare tyre or tools on board, my only hope was for MAF to come and rescue me. The passenger I was picking up, was a lady who needed to fly back that very day. Thankfully after communicating back and forth with the MAF operations team, another plane with an engineer and a pilot were arranged to fly 360 km to come and help change the tyre. As we were getting late and had limited time, after dropping off the engineer and spare tyre and tools, the rescue plane picked up the passenger and took off for Kajjansi. They needed to arrive at the base before sunset. We tried to finish the tyre change quickly, but it took time to get the work done, and by the time time we finished, we were 10 minutes too late. We would not be able to reach before sunset and so had to stay overnight.
Thankfully, I always carry my overnight bag. It was an unplanned overnight stay, but waking up the next morning, a few thoughts crossed my mind. I had a longer transit that day and I was on the ground longer. If I had taken off earlier, and had the flat tyre in the air, it was quite possible that on landing there would have been major trouble. I felt so thankful to God for his timely protection. At least the passenger was safe. I was also reminded of the support I had from my MAF Uganda team. Even with such short notice, things were arranged, and we could serve our partners even in this unexpected situation. I woke up next to a beautiful mountain, with birds chirping all around. In this fast-developing world, I was reminded that not many get to wake up to such beauty.
I also got to ride a motorbike to and from the airstrip to my accommodation! In every situation, we can either view it as a positive or negative experience. At the end of the day, I am thankful for all these adventures I encounter while serving with MAF. I am always reminded of God’s protection and love over my life. I would like to thank every individual reading this for your continuous support. I am encouraged and blessed to know that there are amazing people like you behind me with your words of encouragement and support.