(L) Green Beans coffee (a morning ritual) at sunrise. (R) Jeremy Rangon (on left) was the navigator at our show last night who hooked me up with a cockpit ride in our C130 to Bagram. Thanks, Jeremy!
March 11, Time: 1220 Zulu, 7:20 EST, 1650 local
Afghanistan time is 30 minutes off the hour
Time is nearly irrelevant. Sleep is also, apparently, irrelevant. We are in the midst of another action packed day. This experience has gone beyond exciting to surreal- without a doubt the most extraordinary thing I’ve ever done.
This morning my body awoke after five hours sleep- I suppose I have adjusted to that schedule. Not wanting to wake my friends, I hit the gym and then enjoyed an Uzbekistan sunrise. After breakfast, we readied our gear for the flight and were processed for transport.
After the show last night, I happened to meet a navigator named Jeremy who really enjoyed our act. Hearing we were bound for Bagram, and that I was a pilot, he called in a favor on my behalf. As a result, I was cleared to ride on the flight deck, wearing a headset and talking through the whole experience with the pilot, copilot, navigator and flight engineer the whole way! The C130 (Hercules) is an awesome and extremely agile bird, and it was tremendous fun to be up front where all the action is. I was able to take some amazing photos and see the breathtaking beauty of the extraordinary mountain ranges enroute.
Bagram is set in a “bowl” meaning we had to climb to 21,000 feet to cross the mountains, then descend quickly to field elevation for our landing. I don’t have the words nor time to describe just how cool this was. My face hurts from smiling.
After arrival, we met Sgt. Marx, our Point of Contact at this base. We have no show tonight, but an early call time to the airfield tomorrow. We are going down range to a FOB (Forward Operating Base) in Jallalabad. This means we checked out body armor and helmets, as we will be in a much more intense environment. We will take a Chinnock helicopter before sunrise to the base, deliver a performance in the afternoon, have dinner with the troops, and spend the night in tents among the soldiers. We return to Bagram the following morning for a show here.
This schedule is relentless. When it’s all said and done, we will deliver 20 shows in 24 days in 7 countries! Thank you all for your phenomenal encouragement and support I’ve received though your e-mail messages. I am passing all your comments along to the troops, and they certainly appreciate hearing them.
I look forward to sharing so many positive stories about what REALLY is happening here. The work that is being done here and the transformation of Afghanistan is simply amazing. With all the US media focus on Iraq, it is easy to understate and more often overlook the things that are happening here. This place, to quote Major Mike McCullum, our pilot, is “coming alive with construction, commerce, and transformation.”
It is tremendously encouraging to be here and personally be a witness to this…
Click image to enlarge.