Diaries of Captain Oki: Flight to Batticaloa
Every kid has a dream growing up, some want to be doctors, others want to be lawyers… Me? I only wanted to fly. Pursuing this dream, right after graduating high school, I left the beautiful island of Sri Lanka and travelled 15,000 km-to the land of opportunity-to accomplish my lifelong dream. The State of Oklahoma to be exact.
It feels like just yesterday, when my instructor let me take off for the first time. The view was just breath-taking, and unbeknownst to me, I fell in love with flying even more. Almost a year and a half passed by and I was finally a fully qualified commercial pilot; it was time to come back home!
Having flown to almost twenty different states in America, I’ve seen some pretty great views, but there's no equivalent feeling as when you fly back to Sri Lanka because it’s a view like no other. Decorated in lush greenery, surrounded by the golden sandy beaches of the coastlines, Sri Lanka provides views from above like I’ve never seen before.
Acquainted with the routine of flying almost every single day, adjusting was not an easy task, when I got back home. I missed flying but I missed the feeling of invincibility when it was just myself and the sky, even more, although… you do get regularly interrupted by the air traffic controller, who always seems to be having a bad day (in all fairness, he is trying to keep us safe up there!). Two months passed by and no flying was driving me crazy!
One eventful morning, I had to suddenly travel to the East Coast of Sri Lanka which would usually take about six to seven hours on the hectic roads of the country. I didn’t want to spend so much time driving so there I was on my phone, looking at alternatives to travel to Batticaloa and that's when I came across Cinnamon Air; a Sri Lankan air taxi service providing daily scheduled flights around the country. I was so intrigued that I booked a flight for the very next day to Batticaloa. I was so excited to be flying again specially in Sri Lanka that I hardly got any sleep the night before.
Finally, it was time for me to be reunited with the sky! I drove myself to the lovely Cinnamon Air terminal -which I was highly impressed with-and eagerly and restlessly awaited to fly like a five-year-old kid that just saw a house made of candy. Five minutes prior to departure time, the glorious Grand Caravan-painted in the vibrant purple Cinnamon Air colours-arrived at the terminal.
It felt like I was embarrassing myself, acting like a kid when I saw the plane, but to my relief, it wasn't just me! All the passengers aboard the flight that day were as excited as I was to fly, and they looked it too, grinning from ear to ear.
Faintly hearing the air traffic controller giving us our take off clearance, we were up and above the busy West Coast of Sri Lanka and on our way to the serene East Coast. In no time, we had reached the highlands of the country and as we approached Sigiriya to drop off to two passengers, the pilot turned around and pointed to our left and showed us the Golden temple of Dambulla. The pilots were so friendly and very accommodating as they explained every astounding site along one of the most scenic flights I’ve been on.
As we approached the airport in Sigiriya we were greeted with some of the greenest paddy fields I had seen in my life (and that's not an exaggeration, as I’ve grown up near paddy fields all my life!). It was a little awkward and comical when one of the British passengers on board asked me if I haven't seen this side of the country, as I was more excited than they were and trust me they were excited to experience a part of the country in way that not many people do.
After dropping off two more extremely satisfied passengers, we took off and headed to the East Coast of Sri Lanka. Not two minutes after take-off, the pilot showed us the ancient rock of Sigiriya and he explained in extensive detail about the vast history of the world-renowned rock fortress. We approached the coastal town of Batticaloa and just as I thought it couldn't get any better, Sri Lanka surprised me again with its marvellous turquoise waters and its golden beaches. Having flown for half an hour in Sri Lanka, I had seen views I have never seen flying for a year and a half.
Finally, we landed in Batticaloa and I can tell you with reverent certainty, I was addicted to flying with Cinnamon Air. They provide one of the best services in the country by getting you to your destination conveniently while avoiding the strenuous roads of Sri Lanka.
PS- Just a tip: Don't get too excited and not sleep the night before because the seats are so comfortable that you might fall asleep.