More than five miles over Africa, one very small passenger decided to join the world.
About midway into the 90-minute flight from Nigeria to the Ivory Coast, Saidatou Ayoni's water broke and she quietly went into labor. Somewhere over Ghana or Benin, she gave birth to a healthy boy.Shortly after Cameroon Airlines Flight 704 leveled off Sunday from its climb to about 30,000 feet, a flight attendant went on the public address system and asked if a doctor was on board.
Fortunately there was. Cameroon's John Yap, a pediatrician, eased Ayoni through labor in the back of the plane and delivered the yet-unnamed infant.
"It isn't unusual for a pregnant woman to fly," Yap said afterwards. "But she shouldn't have been on the airplane" late in her pregnancy.
Apart a few quiet groans from the mother, the delivery was relatively easy, Yap said. He used several plastic bags and a blanket to craft a delivery area and he cut the umbilical cord with a Swiss Army knife.
Unaware of the commotion on board the aircraft - just one row ahead of the smoking section - most passengers blithely continued with their meals. By the time word of what was happening finally spread, Ayoni and her new baby had become the center of attention.
"I wonder what nationality he's going to be," quipped one passenger while the jet soared over West Africa's southern coastline.
Several passengers wandered to the back of the Boeing 727 jet to visit the little infant, wrapped in a Cameroon Airlines blanket and trying to catch a little sleep.