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A flight over Afghanistan, at night

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Last night, I had the opportunity to go up with our UH-60 flight company on a training flight. I was the sole passenger on the flight; guess it pays to become friends with pilots. The crew, that is the pilot, co-pilot, crew chief, and gunner all had night vision goggles. I didn't, which is what I wanted anyway; my eyes adjust to light changes and darkness fairly well.

 

When we first took off, it became quite apparent just how busy KAF is, even at night. No shit the base is a city of its own. Bright spotlights pointed outwards toward the empty desert. Busses, MRAPs, and Tata pick-ups their headlights creating a path in one of the few dark areas, the roads. The darkest area on the base is the runway and taxi-ways. I couldn't even tell there was a C-17 on the taxiway until I picked out the silhouette of the tail.

 

Once we were up at altitude, probably six to seven thousand feet, what really became noticeable was what Afghanistan looks like in the dark. Aside from the giant air base, there's really few lights out there. A village or two near the mountains to the north west, and a small village to the north east were the only lights that were noticeable. Kandahar City is tucked in behind the mountains, but a slight glimmer of light can be seen from it. In the sky, only the flashing strobes of the early warning and observation blimps* could be seen. Even the civilian aircraft turn their lights off here, whether it's an Il-76 or MD-87. Out to the east it's nothing but darkness.

 

It's eery, really. Looking out towards the east and the southwest and seeing nothing at all. No lights, no civilization.

 

 

*Those blimps. My first morning here I looked out my door and that was the first thing I saw. All I could conjure up was "The fuck? Is that a blimp?"

 

Anyway, just felt like sharing.

 

 

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Very nice story!!  While reading, I imagined the enormous dark landscapeand the silence only disturbed by the rotors. Stay safe, grat job!!!! 

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Very cool! What's your MOS? I'm in an aviation unit as well. Gotta love those birds.

 

I'm a Chinook guy. It's only the best helicopter ever, of all time.

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Stay safe and return to tell us all more.  Not real surprised at the technological advances evident in a war-torn country (or lack thereof).  Thank the Taliban for that.

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