Failure To LaunchOld Blue | Friday, February 3rd, 2012 | 4 Comments »
The Air Force called for us to mount up on four buses to be taken to the flight line, cutting short my previous post. No sooner had we boarded the buses, laden with body armor, helmets, laptop bags and carry-on bags, than we were told that fog was delaying the flight.
We got off the buses and filed back into the Pax Terminal, voices calling sarcastic congratulations on the execution of the drill. Again laptops and power cords came out. This was short-lived, however. Again the call came to board the buses. This time, the buses slowly processed towards the flight line. Cherries, excited at the prospect of putting their boots on the ground, gave themselves away with their chattering. They joked and chuckled as others sat silent.
I took in the sights and sounds. Each time, some things are the same. The cramped space on the bus. The smell of diesel exhaust. Airfield lights backlight aircraft in the fog. Wanting to get off that bus and get it over with. The buses stopped to let a KC-135 pass on taxi, but the plane sat still, navigation lights blinking. The bus drivers conferred quickly over the radio; the back way. Again we crept through the dark until the shapes of the fat, high-winged C-17′s emerged from the fog. Several showed signs of life; lights shown from their forward troop doors.
Finally we slowed to a stop at the tail of a C-17 whose ramp was down, awaiting its human cargo; us. We left the cramped buses for the cramped seats of the aerial bus. The noise level increased dramatically as the whine of APU’s and various other equipment accosted our ears. Pallets holding our duffel bags and ruck sacks were maneuvered into the rearward-facing maw of the aircraft, slid into place and locked into the floor of the plane. Each seat, the Load Master informed us, would be full.
There was an extra butt sans a seat to hold it.
The crew pulled out the manifest and called the roll. Three issue resolved, we were told to sit tight as the plane was de-iced. After that, another delay, then a third. Finally, after over two hours on the plane, we were told we’d be in Manas another 24 hours.
This has all been an impromptu drill. Afghanistan still awaits.