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Turbulence causes mid-air panic on Kulula flight to Cape Town

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Domestic and regional airline Comair, which is a British Airways franchise holder, has ordered four more new generation Boeing 737-800s for its low cost division, kulula.com. Photo: Matthew Jordaan

Speaking to Independent Media a few hours after the ordeal, Prins said he was lucky to be alive.

"We had just passed over Somerset West when the plane suddenly dropped what felt like three storeys, and began tilting sideways," a still-shaken Prins recalled. 

He said the plane was battered by extreme turbulence, and felt as if it was being 'trapped in air pockets between the clouds'. 

"At one point you could hear the engine; it sounded like a car accelerating very fast. The next thing we knew, the plane was nose up, with the tail pointed downwards. It felt like the pilot was trying to stabilise it by flying up and out of all the clouds and turbulence."

Prins said the six-minute ordeal felt like it had lasted a lifetime. 

"I am still traumatised. I was screaming, everyone around me was screaming. Three or four people got out of their seats at one point while the plane was going sideways, and tried to open the emergency exits. 

"An air hostess came over the radio to tell us to remain calm and in our seats, and then the plane was battered by the winds again, and she started screaming too."

Prins said that when the pilot eventually managed to regain control of the aircraft and make a shaky landing at Cape Town International, he couldn't believe that they had survived the flight. 

"I thought I was going to die. I kept thinking about my three children, and my four-year-old daughter who had begged to fly with me this morning.

"I can't imagine what would've happened had she come with. When I entered the terminal building, the tears just started flowing uncontrollably. When I fetched my rental car, I was still shaking," Prins said. 

He added that the only communication he had received from Kulula, was in a tweet:

William Smook, senior consultant for Meropa Communications, issued a statement on behalf of kulula.com. 

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