Finally, after three failed attempts, we were able to execute.
Now I don't know about you, but the words, "It's gonna be a bumpy one" are not the first words I want to hear out of the aircrew's mouth as soon as I take my seat. Not only did he place emphasis on this, he repeated it no less than four times before we took off, even adding "if anyone needs an air sick bag I have some up front." For whatever reason, I immediately started singing "La Bamba" in my head ...
Outside of a few sudden drops in altitude (harking vivid memories of Disney World's Tower of Terror and Jenna screaming "I'm not liking this!") and the plane briefly flying sideways now and again due to sudden wind shears, it was not that bad of a flight.
The mission went well. On this particular one, I had one of my younger Airmen with me so he could get some experience. Being young, he was easily baited into helping out the kennel master conduct some K9 training. Having been responsible for my share of military working dog programs, I know (and have personally experienced) how sadistic kennel masters can be. In fact, I have conned my share of high-ranking officers to don the bite suit for a little "fun." In the end, my Airman took it well and now has some cool experiences to share with family and friends.
This mission was special for a couple of reasons. First, it was my last trip back to Jalalabad. Second, it was my last flight on a Blackwater Aviation STOL aircraft. After 15 flights, always sitting in the same emergency row (seat 4A), I was ready to say good ridden. So, goodbye tail number N150RN. I never felt safe flying in you and you never failed to give me new and interesting mechanical noises to ponder as we flew over the Hindu Kush.
Forward Operating Base Fenty, Jalalabad
J back in J'bad
Sizing up his new toy