VETERAN journalist Mike Willesee says he never believed in premonitions until he experienced one 20 years ago that was too extraordinary to ignore.
In an interview with Australian Story, the legendary current affairs presenter reveals how he survived a plane crash in 1997.
He and cameraman Greg Low were about to board a Cessna plane in Nairobi, Kenya, bound for South 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?” he told Australian Story.
“I don’t believe in premonitions. Did I believe it was going to crash? Absolutely.”
It wasn’t long before the plane, which took off in a tropical downpour, began experiencing engine problems.
Willesee described the experience as “pretty freaky”.
“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.”
When the aircraft settled, the pilot and two other passengers fled the plane, 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,” Willesee said.
“So I ran back into the plane and Greg freed himself as I got in and we got out.”
Willesee added the plane crash was the start of a long journey back to the Catholic faith of his childhood.
“It still took me I think maybe two years, for me to actually say there is a God,” he said.
Willesee was inducted into the Australian Media Hall of Fame on Friday.