Renewing a passport and border checks are not the easiest of tasks for Shona Owen thanks to the unusual location of her birth. About 36,000 feet in the air.
To the constant bemusement of immigration officials, her passport reads: “Holder born on an aeroplane.”
Owen is one of a small community of people who made their entrance into the world in this most dramatic of ways.
In 1990, Shona’s heavily pregnant mother Debbie Owen, accompanied by 4-year-old daughter Claire, was flying from Ghana, where she worked, to London on a British Airways flight. Unexpectedly, she went into labor.
She was moved into first class, which was cleared of passengers and an announcement was made for anyone with medical training to come forward.
The expectant mother was in luck.
Dutch doctor Wym Bakker, who had been helping women give birth in the bush in Ghana, was also on board. Fearing being left alone with a new baby and Claire if the plane was forced to land in Africa, Debbie tried desperately to hold on until the plane reached Europe.
On approach to London’s Gatwick airport, with the blinds drawn, soft music playing, her very own doctor and cabin crew on standby, Shona Kirsty Yves — spelling out the initials SKY — was born, increasing the passenger list by one.
“I’ve always been told I was born to travel, and I am working in the travel industry at the moment,” says Shona who now works as an online marketing executive for a luxury tour operator. “It’s quite a good story, and it’s a good ice breaker.”