Sunday, January 27, 2013

Landing in Kabul

Since many of my readers have served, or are serving, in Afghanistan, or have family members or friends who've served or are serving there, I thought the video clip below would be of interest;  but first, some background.

Silk Way Airlines is based in Azerbaijan, a nation which allows US aircraft to stage through its territory on their way to and from Afghanistan.  As a result, Azerbaijani firms - including Silk Way - are allowed to bid for contracts to support US operations in Afghanistan.  Silk Way flies a mixture of older Soviet-era transports and more modern US-made jetliners.  Among them are seven Ilyushin Il-76 jet freighters, roughly comparable in size, payload and performance to the US Lockheed C-141 Starlifter (long since retired from active service).  One of its Il-76's is shown in the video clip below, taking off from a German airfield.  Turn up the volume to get the full benefit of the high-pitched scream from the early-generation Soviet engines.

These aircraft have a heavily glassed nose section, shown below from outside and within.  I understand it was built like that for three reasons;  partly to aid in navigation, partly to help spot drop zones for the release of parachutists and cargo, and partly for use with a bomb sight or other weapon-related systems.  (Some military Il-76's had bomb hardpoints beneath their wings.)

With that background out of the way, here's a video taken from the nose position of a Silk Way Airlines Il-76 approaching Kabul in Afghanistan.  It was clearly taken in winter, judging by the snow on the ground.  Note the very mountainous terrain surrounding Kabul, and the other aircraft on the airfield as it lands - including at least two giant Antonov An-124's.  I recommend watching it in full-screen mode.

It certainly gives a new perspective on landing to see the runway looming up at one's feet like that, doesn't it?



Old NFO said...

Big old birds, and those old engines DO scream!!!

perlhaqr said...

That's gotta make landing a lot easier. "Hey look! It's right there!"

Scott said...

I'd love to get a ride in any bird with a glass nose like that. An old B25 up the Snake River canyon would be best, but what a view in any bird!

trailbee said...

I'd be happy to see these videos any time. To fly in these wonderful monsters? Uh-uh. I can't even paint the trim at the eaves on my house. Kudos to flyers. :)