Friday, September 30, 2011

On an Observation Flight !!!!

Friday 30 September 2011
On an observation flight

I had the opportunity to do an observation flight today. The idea of such a flight is to give someone like myself the opportunity to “watch the show” as we do what we do thruout the country every day. Although I dispatch the aircraft and crews, I track them on monitors at our home base as they move about the country via tracking tools, monitoring how the flights are progressing.

Going on an observation flight enables me to see the fuelers fuel, something I task them to do, to see the “loggies” (logistics people) loading and unloading the aircraft, to see maintenance teams interacting with crews and other support personnel at their actual tasks. It’s a great eye-opening experience. My dispatch rating demands that I do x hours-per-year at such a task, and fortunately, AAR encourages me to do so. Of course, due to personnel scheduling, it’s done on your day off.
Oh yeah, and cool, I get to sit in the jumpseat with the crew and fly around for a day !!

The type of aircraft I had the chance to fly in today was a Casa 212. The Casa 212 is a twin engine, 2 pilot aircraft which AAR uses as a cargo aircraft. AAR flies a variety of cargo for its client’s thruout the region. When you mail a letter or a package to a soldier serving in Afghanistan, we deliver it.

We visited several “FOB’s” today ….. Forward out bases. We deliver cargo and transport either cargo, like an aircraft engine we did today, or soldiers returning stateside for some R&R. We remember to thank them for their service. I keep a bunch of $10 and €10 McDonalds cards in my pocket that I give to our soldiers returning home. It gives them taste America on their stopover on their way home and is a small, very small thank you for what they do!

This is a FOB …. Can’t tell you where though …. Security is the master key here.

For the most part, Afghanistan is a mountainous region. I’m told that 30+ years ago Afghanistan was an agriculture nation but the Soviet Union, trying to conquer, blew up the underground aquifers and canal system, allowing the desert to quickly reconquer the nation.
Flying overhead you can spot green in the river valleys, but little other green in the mountains

Flying overhead, you’re able to observe mud rectangular triangles which surround where the people live. Houses in Afghanistan are traditionally made out of mud, and have a series of rooms located around a private rectangular courtyard where women and children play, cook and socialize. Married sons share the same house as their parents, although they have separate quarters. Some Afghan houses contain a special room where men socialize with each other. 

Of course, being a Muslim nation, we saw several Mosques. Acft in the region are not allowed to fly over or near them.

The end of an 8 hour day bought us back to our home base in Bagram. A great day. Our crews and all support staff work hard 7 days a week fulfilling our mission of support to forces based here.
I’m proud to be working for AAR Airlift.