It was supposed to be a long, yet simple mission: pick up troops in Afghanistan take em back to Europe and along the way make a brief stop in the former Soviet Union. Come back much the same way.
But it didn’t turn out that way.
Global politics can be such a pain in the ass when you’re trying to get from point A to point B in the most efficient manner. We needed to fly up Pakistan to Afghanistan, because clearly Iran isn’t interested in letting coalition aircraft fly in their airspace. On the way into Pakistan, a very agitated air defense controller started calling for us over the emergency frequency, demanding we speak to him immediately. So much for being in touch with his country’s air traffic control and for the US coordinating our overflight. Hearing the stress and anxiety in his voice, I couldn’t help but wonder if he had his finger on the launch button to some strategic missile defense system. It would be a silly oversight and highly unlikely, but hey, if it could happen in the Ukraine, why not here? That’s something about military/combat situations: you never know who’s finger is on the trigger and what state of mind he/she is in that day.
We made it to our destination in Afghanistan, only to have the plane suffer a major electrical failure upon engine shutdown. It took several hours for ground crews and our flying crew chief to figure out the problem, as the nearly freezing air blew into the depowered jet, but by God they figured it out. I was sure we were going to be stuck there for a day or two. Bully on them! So we loaded up our troops and cargo and headed towards Europe.
So we double back and head south, back through Pakistan, with the plan of continuing back to the Persian Gulf, up through Kuwait and Iraq, and then finally into Turkey enroute Europe. I trade off with our third pilot, as it has been 22 hours since I woke up. My body was begging for some rest. Just as I stretched my legs out, we hit a good bout of turbulence. So I just rest my eyes and relax a bit in the coffin sized sleeping space as we bounce through moderate turbies.
Then it happens again... (To Be Continued)