Saturday, March 28, 2009

History repeats... Again

Those of you that knew me between 1999 and 2001 may remember me mostly as covered in grease, smelling like exhaust, lost in the woods, and half asphyxiated from carbon monoxide. Well, I am thrilled to say that those days are here again!

Thanks to one of my excellent feild agents and associates in Albuquerque I am now the third owner of this 1942 Ford GPW. The first two owners being the US Army Air Corp, and a guy named Louie. What you are looking at is a completely unrestored, original WWII army jeep! From what I understand, it was sold right off Kirtland AFB right after the war ended and has been in NM ever since. It looks like it even has its original paint!

HAH! 45 MPH? I know that no military vehicle in history has ever been held to their max speed. I believe chestocrates can verify that this vehicle will do more than that as it enters the water!

It might be a shame to cover that original paint job...

The Sophist has been on a bit of a rat-rod kick recently. Before you suggest it... this is the right way to rat rod a jeep... It is a possibility. Brohiem... how is that class 3 license coming?

It is almost in this condition already... just loose the arctic top and windshield... Add some weapons...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Self propelled machines and sex... pretty much the same thing.

Which reminds me, I will be moving to Albuquerque, New Mexico in a few months. This is the Craig's List ad I am looking for as far as my future dwelling space goes:

FOR RENT: Climate Controlled Garage; girls from UNM gymnastics team looking to rent out unused garage space.
-room for two large american sedans, extra storage for parts, space for futon or hammock
-bathroom access
-walking distance to several bars, strip clubs, and auto parts stores
-Rent: no money, just odd jobs around house and buying us booze for our parties!

Because once you have a garage, you can put a cool car in it!

Obviously this follows...

...because New Mexico can be dusty sometimes.

Jalopnik knocks it out of the park with these posters.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Chaos + cool accent = Sexy! or The second most fun thing to do in a bunker!

(Many pictures are more interesting if expanded.)

The last week I have been out in Herat... (That is on the other side of the country next to the Iran border for those of you that don't have a map of Afghanistan handy.) I found out that two of my friends from pilot training were going to be out there as well as two guys from my home squadron. That combined with the fact that I have never been to Herat made me think it would be a good place to take a 4 day pass. So, having some hookups at the airport, I got myself on an Italian C-130 and was spirited nearly painlessly to the Italian/Spanish base in Herat. (That's right, there is a combination Italian/Spanish base. I got there just after lunch, so obviously I couldn't do anything for the next four hours as everyone was on break... until the end of August)

My arrival in vacation clothes.

No problem because cell phones are magic! Even though most Afghans have never seen a paved road, the cell phone coverage here makes the US look abysmal. The taliban gets better coverage sneeking through the Konar valley than my mom driving from Marquette to the bridge. Either way, I shortly link up with M., who I find in typical Italian style... dressed completely in white and pink spandex.

(notice no picture of this) ... This is normal for italians, but I still went off and found a different more clothed friend, "The Vegetable."

Later that evening I found myself in in a bunker again for the second time that day. Now, I have been in quite a few bunkers but never before with the Spanish. Usually it is a time of sitting there with all your shit on just waiting. Not for the Spanish! These cats don't let a few nearby explosions get in the way of having a good time! I recommend for your next indirect fire attack, head for the Spanish bunker. The party was over by about one AM... (We ran out of red bull.) but as they say, "A good time was had by all"

I was invited on a helicopter appreciation flight with the C-130 guys. M. is demonstraiting the hard job of a cargo pilot.

But at least the view is nice.

So, I took a few C-130 bubbas to see the mighty Hip! This pretty much became a lesson in italian swearing and awe as they looked at these awesome machines. "Hey-a... it seems to-a be leaking something-a," After which they came to the conclusion that all of us are crazy. (For you history buffs, the aircraft pictured was actually Massoud's personal helicopter. It even has a place for a forward firing nose gun! It is good for the avionics!)

Though speaking of aircraft and luck. Here are a few less lucky aircraft. This is a pile of aircraft "The Vegetable" wanted to go take a look at. I didn't figure out how to get any of these old migs back to the US yet... but there was an old soviet motorcycle side car that had me pretty tempted.

Piles of old migs.

A more artistic view, though less documentary photo by "The Vegetable."

The man himself: Open cockpit jet pilot. "I want to hear those commies scream!"

This post is mostly pictures... but that is only because I have to wait for statutes of limitations to run out before I can start telling the stories. Or, just give me a beer next time I see you and I will tell them. Incase I forget, just remind me to tell the story about the "mortar attack with the spanish..." or "the GIANT piece of parmesan cheese" is also a good one too! (The piece of cheese is really big... like from now on when you need an analogy for big, you are going to think parmesan cheese instead of Dolly Parton.)

A neat little video that makes me want to take science books to strip clubs in foreign countries and have the dancers read them to me. Thus the title for this post.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

A clear day in Kabul...

Every once in a while the wind and the rain and the snow all work together to clean the fecal matter out of the air and one realizes that Afghanistan is a really beautiful place... in a centuries of blood bath, environmental destruction, and brutal existence kind of way.

Also, I have been told via other means that my landscape pictures are not very interesting... and I should include more pictures of people. As much as I would love to do this, my guys already have enough problems with family members getting kidnaped and bombs being thrown through the windows of their houses without me showing their faces on the internet. That being said, enjoy the pictures. FEEL FREE TO EXPAND THEM TO FULL SIZE FOR INCREASED PLEASURE!

"Oh, we're the wing men..." (that song goes through my head every time I look out the window...)

The next few pictures are what Kabul looks like if you were to take the vile airborne sludge of incinerated garbage, burnt tires, and dirt out of the air. Normally the air looks like a blank word document... as viewed through crapy sunglasses.

Some mild sludge on the horizon...

I just recently found out that this palace was the location of the opening battle of the Soviet invasion... and here I only though it was just a good waypoint for navigation.

"You see, in formation it is easy to hold position by putting the rotor head of lead on the horizon... Well fuck, this isn't going to work... OK, I'll explain when we get back to the classroom.

Those mountains are all over 14,000 feet. This place makes Colorado feel like Nebraska...

Basically the mountains never stop in this country. About 9 months ago or so I was trying to teach formation flying. I tried to explain that a good position was to put the rotor head of the preceding aircraft on the horizon... shortly after takeoff I realized that these guys have never seen a horizon. There is always a fucking gigantic mountain range in the way. The one advantage this gave me was when I was explaining how America sent men to the moon, I didn't have much trouble with the idea that the earth is not flat. A flat earth idea is just as hilarious to these guys as women's rights! I laughed too... then submitted my citizenship application. Peace out!

Monday, March 02, 2009

Some "Final Countdown" style shit.

N = Notorious, B = name of my Afghan co-pilot, Tower = Kabul Tower, -2 = the second aircraft of the formation

N: (Looking out the aircraft window as we return to the airfield) "Man, spring happens fast around here doesn't it?" (Confused look at me.) I try again in Dari this time, "Felan.. Kabul, bizyar nojew... sabs zute zute."

B: "Bali! Trees green... heh heh! Yes... now bizyar sabs!"

N: "Right... Hey, you think it's about time for a radio call?"

B: "Radio?"

N: "Yes dude... YOU are control radio!" (I have found that using the words and syntax that they used with me actually gets the message across quicker than insisting on using correct English myself.)

B: "Yes yes, I am radio! I talking now... "Kabul Tower, Papa-Alpha-Sierra - 001, position Sierra-Wiskey, Inbound, landing Hotel.""

Tower: "Chi gufti? Kujasti?"

B: "Kabul Tower, Papa-Alpha-Sierra - 001, position Sierra-Wiskey, Inbound, landing Hotel."

Tower: . . .

(Looks to me confused?)

N: (I look back also confused) "Dude, your radio call was fine, I don't know what is going on... When did they teach the Belgians in the tower how to speak Dari?"

Tower: "Doo tiyara jurra, Chi gufti? Kujasti?"

N: "Well go ahead and answer..."

B: "Kabul Tower, Papa-Alpha-Sierra - 001, Doo tiyara kandaki riosate jambori, neshast mekonum Hotel taxiway."

Tower: "...Kandaki riosate jambori? Chi?"

B: "Bali, neshast mekonum."

Tower: "Mushkil neyst, neshast mekoni."

We land... despite the confusion...

As we taxi in past a noticeably large number of Hinds and Hips and some new hangers I don't remember, i realize that something is really really wrong.

N: "Chi hast?" I ask my copilot.

B: "Name famam!?!?"

I see a few guys walking along the edge of the ramp in some old soviet uniforms. Not unusual, the old dudes use them sort of like a status thing that they were a part of the old russian era, sort of like now how they wear US uniform articles when they get them to show their assosiation with the US military. I look back at "-2." They are taxiing right along with us like they should.

We turn into our parking spot. I look up at the tail of a nearby An-12.

A chill runs down by back like a razor filleting my spine...


The tail has freshly painted red Soviet tail flash.

My brain tries to come up with what could possibly be going on. My mind is in the forced calm when you realize that the next few moments are vital, and understanding what is happening around you is all that you should be doing.

I come up with a short list of two of the most reasonable options... Either A) we have been sent back in time, and we have inadvertently traveled to Kabul in 1978... (In which case I wish I had payed more attention to sports stats... maybe I will just invest in Microsoft in it's early days.) or B) we have been shot down and are now doomed join the aerial ghosts of Afghanistan and fly these canyons and valleys for ever.

Both of those options don't appeal to me actually. The time is now for quick action.

N: "-2, Do not shut down! Present possition departure!"

-2: ""-2"... Say again... please"

N: "Felan Barhost mekonum, inja! Amodi"

-2: "Chi? Bali, amodum."

We took off and retraced our route exactly backwards. I don't know if we were in the underworld of war slaughtered Afghanistan or just sent back in time a few decades... either way, the calenders say 2009 again. (1387 for the local made ones)

We will see if I make it back...