From the ABC:
Mike Willesee: A premonition, plane crash and testing miracles
Veteran journalist Mike Willesee has revealed how miraculously surviving a plane crash changed his life forever, kick-starting a journey back to his Catholic faith.
It is this faith, and the support of his family, that has sustained Willesee through his current battle with throat cancer and a debilitating course of radiation therapy that ended only recently.
The legendary current affairs presenter and reporter was too unwell to attend his induction into the Australian Media Hall of Fame on Friday in Sydney.
In a pre-recorded acceptance speech he said: “To be a journalist, for me, has been a gift that just keeps on giving.”
If it wasn’t for an extraordinary twist of fate 20 years ago, Willesee’s career could have been cut short well before now.
In 1997 he and his cameraman Greg Low were about to board a twin-engine Cessna plane in Nairobi, Kenya, bound for Southern Sudan to film a documentary.
But before they took off, Willesee said he had a premonition the aircraft would crash.
“I couldn’t understand it. I had this fight in my own head before I got on the plane. How do I tell Greg that it’s going to crash?
“I don’t believe in premonitions. Did I believe it was going to crash? Absolutely.”
Media player: “Space” to play, “M” to mute, “left” and “right” to seek.
The plane took off in a tropical downpour and shortly after began experiencing problems.
For Willesee, the experience was surreal.
“When it stalled, and it stopped for this one excruciating second and then started to spiral and go down, the only thought I could get out of my head was, ‘I was right’, which is pretty freaky.
“I said my first prayer to a God who I didn’t understand and whose existence I was quite unsure of.”
That wasn’t the end of the drama. When the aircraft finally settled, the pilot and the other two passengers got out as fast as they could, leaving Willesee and Low in their seats.
“Greg’s seat buckle was jammed because he had his camera on his lap and we thought the plane would explode and burn because of the noise and incredible amount of smoke.
“So I ran back into the plane and Greg freed himself as I got in and we got out.”
The plane crash was the start of a long journey back to the Catholic faith of his childhood.
“The plane crash changed me a lot,” Willesee said.
“It still took me I think maybe two years, for me to actually say there is a God.”
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