Hearing about Egypt’s military aircraft flying over Tahrir Square today reminded me of one of the oddest conversations I’ve been part of. It was in Cairo Airport.
I was producing a series for BBC Radio 4 with the travel writer Alexander Frater. The programmes were based on Alex’s book Beyond the Blue Horizon which follows the 1930’s Imperial Airlines’ route from London Croyden Airport to Brisbane, Australia.
We arrived into Cairo airport and were invited to meet the airport manager. Sitting in his office overlooking the runway Alex suggested that this was both a military airport and a civil airport.
“Why do you say that?” The manager snapped back.“Because of the six MiGs down there on the runway.” Alex replied“There are no MiGs on the runway.” The manager was indignant at such a suggestion.Alex walked the manager and me to the window. He pointed and said “There. Six MiG fighters, just there.”“There are no MiGs on the runway.”
“But, there …”“No, this is not a military airport. There are no MiGs on the runway.”
I’m not the expert Alex is; I could see military jets – he could see MiGs. But the manager assured us absolutely. There were no MiGs on the runway.