Durban - Just before 7pm on Monday, when flight FA 164 was making its approach to King Shaka International Airport, passenger Dietmar Kraske began to get worried.
The curtain raiser to the wild storm that laid waste to Durban only hours later in the night had started.
“I realised, sitting in row three by the window, that heavy rain was coming down,” said the Durban-based travel agent.
“The moment the pilot put on the lights on the wing, you couldn’t see anything anymore. Raindrops were lit up. All I could see was this bright shine … I thought the pilot could never land in such heavy rain because he must have seen nothing in front of him … he must have just flown into a bright silverish wall.”
Safair’s flight from Cape Town nonetheless touched down in a way that earned the pilot Kraske’s praise.
“I must really compliment that pilot.”
Safair spokesperson Kirby Gordon said it was not airline policy to allow pilots to give media interviews on their performance, even if it was good.
However, he said take-offs and landings were considered “critical phases of flight”.
“It’s interesting to talk about landings because most people assume that a nice, soft, gentle landing is the safest landing but pilots actually need to adjust their landing style based on the prevailing conditions and sometimes it’s actually firmer landings that are better.”
He stressed that safety always came first and dictated what landing procedure needed to be followed.
Kraske, meanwhile, arrived home to discover during the wee hours of Tuesday morning, when he took his dogs out to relieve themselves, that he had no power in his Morningside home.
His local WhatsApp group informed him that sometime between 1am and 2am a huge tree across the road from him on a verge bordering King’s House, had collapsed, pulling down with it overhead cables that fed his residence with electricity, he said
“I expect to eat a lot of steaks because the deep freeze went off.”
However, his house was not flooded.
“We were worried. The pool is very close and we have Oregon pine floors. Luckily our house-sitter dropped the level of the pool.“
The Independent on Saturday