View Full Version : Landing in...Baghdad

07-21-2007, 01:18 PM
Subject: C-130 Pilot's unique description of approach into Baghdad]
For those of you with a military sense of things (not necessarily duty time but a sense of it)
and a love of aviation in general this is a great anecdote about the simple act of landing a C-130 in Baghdad. And it gives you a feel for how important metaphors are, even to Marines.

3rd MAW C-130 Pilot's Description of Approach
into Baghdad.

This is a funny story particularly if you lust
over mixed metaphors. This
is from a colorful writer from the 3rd Marine
Air Wing based at MCAS

There I was at six thousand feet over central
Iraq , two hundred eight knots and we're dropping faster than Paris
Hilton's panties. It's a typical September evening in the Persian Gulf
hotter than a rectal thermometer and I'm sweating like a priest at
a Cub Scout meeting. But that's neither here n or there. The night is moonless over Baghdad tonight,
and blacker than a Steven King novel. But its 2006, folks, and I'm sporting the latest in night-combat technology - namely, hand-me-down night vision goggles (NVGs) thrown out by the fighter boys.

Additionally, my 1962 Lockheed C-130E Hercules
is equipped with an
obsolete, yet, semi-effective missile warning system (MWS). The MWS
conveniently makes a nice soothing tone in
your headset just before the
missile explodes into your airplane. Who says
you can't polish a turd?

At any rate, the NVGs are illuminating Baghdad
International Airport like
the Las Vegas Strip during a Mike Tyson
fight. These NVGs are the cat's
ass. But I've digressed. The preferred method
of approach tonight is the
random shallow. This tactical maneuver allows
the pilot to ingress the landing zone in an unpredictable manner, thus exploiting the supposedly
secured perimeter of the airfield in an attempt to avoid enemy surface-to-air-missiles and small arms fire.
Personally, I wouldn't bet my pink ass on that theory but the approach is fun as hell and that's the
real reason we fly it. We get a visual on the
runway at three miles out,
drop down to one thousand feet above the
ground, still maintaining two
hundred eighty knots. Now the fun starts.

It' s pilot appreciation time as I descend the
mighty Herc to six hundred
feet and smoothly, yet very deliberately, yank
into a sixty degree left
bank turning the aircraft ninety degrees offset from runway heading. As
soon as we roll out of the turn, I reverse
turn to the right a full two
hundred seventy degrees in order to roll out
aligned with the runway. Some
aeronautical genius coined this maneuver the
Chopping the power during the turn, I pull
back on the yoke just to the
point my nether regions start to sag, bleeding
off energy in order to
configure the pig for landing. "Flaps Fifty!
landing Gear Down!, Before
Landing Checklist!" I look over at the copilot
and he's shaking like a cat
shitting on a sheet of ice. Looking further
back at the navigator, and
even through the Nags, I can clearly see the
wet spot spreading around his
crotch. Finally, I glance at my steely eyed
flight engineer. His eyebrows
rise in unison as a grin forms on his face. I
can tell he's thinking the
same thing I am .... "Where do we find such
fine young men?" "Flaps One
Hundred!" I bark at the shaking cat. Now it's
all aim-point and airspeed.
Aviation 101, with the exception there are no
lights, I'm on NVGs its
Baghdad , and now tracers are starting to
crisscross the black sky.
Naturally, and not at all surprisingly, I
grease the Goodyear's on
brick-one of runway 33 left, bring the
throttles to ground idle and then
force the props to full reverse pitch.
Tonight, t he sound of freedom is my
four Hamilton Standard propellers chewing
through the thick, putrid,
Baghdad air. The huge, one hundred
forty-thousand pound, lumbering whisper
pig comes to a lurching stop in less than two
thousand feet. Let's see a
Viper do that!

We exit the runway to a welcoming committee of
government issued Army
grunts It's time to download their beans and
bullets and letters from
their sweethearts, look for war booty, and of
course, urinate on Saddam 's
home. Walking down the crew entry steps with
my lowest-bidder, Beretta
92F, 9 millimeter strapped smartly to my side,
look around and thank God,
not Allah I'm an American and I'm on the
winning team. Then I thank God
I'm not in the Army.

Knowing once again I've cheated death, I ask
myself, "What in the hell am
I doing in this mess?" Is it Duty, Honor, and
Country? You bet your ass.
Or could it possibly be for the glory, the
swag, and not to mention,
chicks dig the Air Medal. There's probably
some truth there too. But now
is not the time to derive the complexities of
the superior, cerebral
properties of the human portion of the
aviator-man-machine model. It is
however, time to get out of this hole. Hey
copilot how's 'bout the 'Before
Starting Engines Checklist."

God, I love this job! Semper Fidelis