Sunday, March 28, 2010

Late night visitor

We had an unexpected guest stop by our base tonight.

He was only here for a few hours... actually we had to wait from 8pm until his speech started at 11:15 (my feet are sore from standing).

Sunday, March 21, 2010

My daily commute...

Here's a short video of my walk to the office each day from my dorm room. You'll see it's a bit of a maze of narrow passages and alleys between bunkers and "B-Huts" (B-Huts are wood-framed structures which are used for office or lodging space here at BAF). I took this video on Friday morning, which was the last day that my walk to work looked that way. Later that morning, we started moving B-Huts with a crane because we needed to empty our grounds for a new passenger terminal construction project that is supposed to start on 1 April.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Project Liberty

Here's a picture a few members from my Civil Engineer (CE) squadron.

We are standing in front of a MC-12. This aircraft is a modified Beechcraft King Air 350. It performs surveilance and reconnance missions through the AOR (Area of Responsibility... that means Afghanistan). They can provide real-time, full-motion video to soliers on the ground that are equipped with special laptops and receivers. Basically, troops below can have a bird's eye view of what's going on all around them without leaving the protection of their cover. It's a pretty interesting mission. They gave us a tour of their facility and aircraft one afternoon.

Here's some more info about it as well:

Basically a Predator on Steroids: That's how Lt. Gen. Mark Shackelford , USAF's top uniformed acquisition official, describes the Air Force's new MC-12W surveillance aircraft. Speaking Tuesday at an Air Force Association-sponsored Air Force Breakfast Series presentation in Arlington, Va., Shackelford said the MC-12 features overhead streaming video capability like on MQ-1 Predator remotely piloted aircraft, but adds the capacity for signals collection that Predator lacks. Thus the analogy. The Air Force is acquiring a fleet of 37 MC-12s , based on seven modified King Air 350 airframes and 30 King Air 350 Extended Range aircraft. According to Shackelford's briefing slides, all seven 350-based MC-12s have been delivered (six serving in Iraq, one used for training in Meridian, Miss.) as have nine 350 ER-based units (four in the war theater, one in transit, and four at Meridian) (For more from Shackelford, read What to Expect and Too Much of a Good Thing .)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Lots of Updates

FYI... I had a lot of updates from last week. But, I just finally got a chance to post them all. I think I made 4 separate posts last night! Enjoy... thanks for reading. Jason.

Aircraft Recovery...

It was a very busy week.

Monday, while standing in line outside for chow, an Airbus A300 flew over our heads at about 300ft above the ground, traveling perpendicular to the runway. We realized, it was probably buzzing the tower for a visual on the landing gear (they probably had an indication that something wasn’t right). Within a few minutes, we received a call on our cell phone about a faulted landing. The left main landing gear collapsed when it hit the ground. The video and pictures I've included will give you a pretty good idea.

We scrambled to gather equipment and rolled out to the scene. The EOC (Emergency Operations Center) & (Unit Control Centers) UCCs were activated. All crew and passengers were ok and offloaded down the egress slide. We laid down some AM-2 matting (basically it’s interlocking aluminum planks) to get the fuel trucks through the mud to defuel the plane. The runway was re-opened that afternoon with wingspan restrictions.

Tuesday, they got the cargo door open and we offloaded the plane. Since the nose gear had ended up on the edge of the pavement, and the tail was still down in the ditch, the aircraft was pitched up at about a 20 degree angle. This meant we had to manually push all the pallets from the back of the plane, uphill, to the cargo door. One pallet weighed 12,000lbs. It took a lot of teamwork for us to make this happen; it was a major accomplishment. We had the plane unloaded by the end of the day.

Wednesday, the objective was to move the plane up onto the adjacent taxiway. We provided more AM-2 matting and equipment to assist with the move. Since the right elevator was still over the pavement it was restricting wide-body aircraft from our airfield. With a lot of pulling power and a crane, they were able to move the aircraft out of the mud. All this in addition to all the projects we were already engaged in.

It was a very busy week.

Running from rocks!

I've been trying to stay (get) in shape while I'm here. One of my main workouts is running. Today, I ran around the base for the third time; it's about 7.8 miles round trip. I usually do shorter runs during the week and a long run on Sunday morning. The perimeter road is fine in someplaces, but several sections are riddled with potholes, muddy shoulders, and rocks. Depending on when it last rained, can really make a difference on the running conditions. I've included a picture of my shoe/calf from after my run this morning so show how caked the mud can get after running for over an hour through the Bagram terrain. I like to say that my shoes are covered in BAF!

Also, some of the road runs directly along the perimeter fenceline. Outside the fence are fields and houses of the local Afghanistan people. Many times we will see people working out in these fields, sometimes there are children tending to goats or just wandering around along the fence. Sometimes they wave and smiles, and sometimes they throw rocks at us or our vehicles. Last Sunday, as I passed along this fence, two children were shouting at me to get my attention, but the people running next to me said, "Don't look, they want you to stop so they can throw rocks at you." I kept going without really looking at them. Moments later, I could hear rocks landing near me. I didn't get hit; it actually probably helped motivate me to run a little faster. We are told that some of the village elders will pay the children for each vehicle or person they can hit with rocks. Not exactly the welcome feeling you want from your neighbors. I'm not sure the local people are getting the message that we want to help them.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

C-17 Take off

This is a video of a C-17 taking off from Bagram. I shot this video from the old Soviet tower. This is the same type of aircraft that our Unit flew into Bagram on in the middle of the night back in January. It almost looks like they are going to fly into the mountains, then they pull up.

Wiley wiring...

Here are a few photos from around the base that exhibit some of the less than standard electrical and wiring conditions here on BAF. The photo of the burnt wire is, of course, from the electrical fire in our bathroom that I wrote about before ...