She heard a roaring sound above her house as she prepared breakfast, and when she came out, saw a helicopter hovering just metres above.
Ms Mary Muthoni was among the villagers scared on Monday by a helicopter with three people that landed in a marshy arrow roots and sweet potatoes farm in Mathira East District.
It turned out that Mr Allan Root, the pilot, was taking his two children Myles Root, 11 and Rory Root, nine, to a school in Nairobi when they experienced bad weather and landed about 15 kilometres off the Nyeri-Nairobi highway around 8am.
The chopper registered as 5Y-OYO, a Hughes 500, bought 20 years ago, landed on Ms Muthoni’s farm, and Mr Root handed out Sh1,550 in cash to her to take care of damage to crops.
Ms Muthoni said the helicopter moved a few metres away and tried to land on a maize farm before finally landing on her farm, nearby.
“The helicopter was just a few metres above the house,” she said.
Gathaithini assistant chief David Githui said he was brushing his teeth when he suddenly saw a low flying aircraft.
“The chopper soon moved to a different direction, and moments later the sound died down,” he said adding that he soon took off towards its direction, suspecting the worst.
Another resident, Mr John Kamau, said he was cutting fodder for his cattle when he saw an aircraft flying low, as if the pilot wanted to land.
“The chopper flew above my cows for several minutes and after nearly landing on top of trees, the pilot was able to steer it to a safer place, landing in a clearer area,” he said.
Mr Kamau was one of the first to reach the area and spoke to the pilot.
Residents who had milled around the aircraft, later gathered for prayers after the chopper had taken off, expressing gratitude that the aircraft had not crashed into people’s houses, and that there were no casualties.
“We experienced very low clouds and it was difficult seeing ahead. We had no choice but to come down and find somewhere to land safely,” said Mr Root, 75. The filmmaker said he had 30 years flying experience.
Central police officer John Mbijjiwe said there was no cause for alarm as the pilot had only made an emergency landing and would proceed once the skies clear.
When the Nation team arrived at the scene, Mr Root and his two children sat calmly, waiting for the weather to clear, in contrast to the anxious crowd that had gathered, fearing for the worst.
The pilot took off about an hour later saying he would circle the skies to assess the weather, and if it was still bad, he would return and land.
Mr Root said emergency landing was normal flying procedure and is usually done as a safety precaution.
They were travelling from Lewa Downs conservancy in Laikipia County to Nairobi’s Banda School, where the children were reporting back to school.
The family lives in Lewa Downs where Mr Root shoots wildlife documentaries for National Geographic, among other film and documentary companies.
He said although the weather in Laikipia was fine at the time of takeoff, it became foggy between the Aberdare and Mt Kenya forests.
“Sometimes we find it (weather) foggy but we are able to manoeuvre to Nairobi, but today it was so thick we could hardly see ahead,” he said.
The weather, a mixture of fog and light showers, was so thick motorists along the Nyeri-Karatina highway slowed down and drove with full lights due to poor visibility.
Mr Root who owns the helicopter, said he occasionally flies between Lewa Downs and Nairobi, where he has homes.
One of his sons, Myles, who said he is in grade seven, said he was not scared but was grateful the helicopter had landed safely.
“This is usual stuff but we are grateful we did not encounter obstacles such as electricity wires,” he said.
He said his mother, who usually travels with the family, had been left behind to take care of their two new puppies.