Saturday, December 15, 2007

Commuting Iraq Style

It is like the ultimate muscle car, the roar of the engine and the wind ripping in thru the windows. Except the US Army Blackhawk is capable of doing all of that and flying at 150 knots an hour and at 5o ft above the ground. By the time the bad guy has seen you, you have passed which is a comforting thought.

Flying over Baghdad and across the desert to visit Army Bases and walk thru Iraqi villages is an experience that so few people will ever have happen to them, yet in many ways for me it is the means to get to a location. You cannot help but feel like a king of the universe as the adrenaline kicks in along with the fear. Perhaps it is the fear that drives the excitement. For fear is ever present here.

You will hear on the radio, see on the TV News and read in the paper that another helicopter has been shot down or mysteriously crashed in Iraq and that X number of soldiers have been killed, and that is when the fear factor comes into play.

As I type this entry I am waiting for a night flight from Baghdad to Fallujah. Just a short 20-minute flight. But try doing it at night with a hot landing and off loading, in the pitch black the choppers will land twenty yards away and without shutting down we have a minute to load the ten cases including our personal bags into the chopper. There are no porters or smiling check in counter girls you pick up what you can and ducking trying to avoid the rotor wash approach the bird drop the gear in the doorway and run back for another load. Whilst wearing 30 lbs of body armor and Kevlar helmets. Earplugs and clear glasses. The moment we load we take off and lift into the black. The only noise above the wind and rotors are the loadmasters cocking and priming the guns that are pointing out and down. Fingers never leave the triggers as they peer thru night vision lens and we sit back and say our silent prayers that we will not be hit.

You see nothing but blackness, you only feel your own adrenaline in the darkness and hopefully we will land and scramble to unload as fast as possible, then turning our backs the Blackhawk’s take off and thirty seconds later it is silent and the night remains jet black.

Thinking that again in twenty-four hours we will move once again and the process of fear and adrenaline replays itself.

One heck of a way to commute to work.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sounds almost as dangerous as a California Freeway!!! But then you don't have to live in California...if you have half a brain. Can you imagine what it would be like to fly one of those Blackhawks, Mal? But if they wouldn't let you shoot the guns we are gussing you aren't going to be flying a blackhawk either....are you Mal.