The Afghan Air Force (AAF) MI-35 Hind helicopter gunship sits squatting on the runway in the noonday Kabul International Airport (KAIA) heat. The cowlings surrounding the twin engines are open and a mechanic is wrenching – with a wrench – at something that is not properly aligned – yet.
Even with its innards exposed, the Hind still looks threatening. It looks just like the Apache doesn’t. While the Apache looks like a toy, the Hind – even this 30-year-old bird – looks like the grown-up real-deal. It looks like it could take a “young boy’s wish” and crush it.
The look is all illusion though. This Hind is a legacy vehicle of the AAF. It somehow survived the fall of the Soviet Union, the resulting civil war, the abuse and abandonment of the Taliban, and the aerial bombardment by the U.S. in response to 9/11.
The man under the cowling…
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