The sand suspended in the air was worse than usual. A recent sandstorm had made the air almost opaque and I could only see for a few feet. I could barely see the 26 airplanes parked in front of me, or the approximately 200 mechanics who were working to get them ready to fly. (The picture was taken in the daytime) As I walked towards where I knew the planes were, I could begin to make out their shapes, and see the outline of the troops scurrying about. Within the next hour or so, at least 20 of those airplanes would be airborne.
The airplanes were C-130 transports many of which were more than 40 years old. They had spent their years in hard use, carrying heavy loads around the world often landing in barely improved dirt strips. They were old, tired airplanes. But because of the mechanics that toiled day and night to keep them mission ready, they could still do the job.
Those mechanics worked in conditions that were uncomfortable at best. Read More »Heat, Wind, Sand, and A Critical Mission