Kabul helicopter flight

31 08 2009
American soldier admiring the view of Kabul from the Hip helicopter

American soldier admiring the view of Kabul from the Hip helicopter

On Saturday morning we spent an exhilarating hour sweeping low and fast over Kabul. The American General charged with training the Afghan Air Force, visited Turquoise Mountain’s work and drew parallels in what we are trying to achieve* and invited us to see their project, based in a $183m compound (puts TM’s $25m in perspective). Although jewellery and traditional building are a world away from attack helicopters we have the same goal: Capacity building with Afghan people. Because they trained in Russian aircraft the Americans have taken the surprisingly pragmatic approach of sticking to what the Afghans know. Just in are 2 brand new helicopters made by Russians in Czechslovakia, no US contractors in sight. The American instructors are taking a little while getting used to the cyrillic dials and switches but it isn’t a problem.

I was woken up by three low crumps a few nights ago as rockets landed in Kabul although no reports yet.

Faisal is the pride of the AFghan airforce as the first pilot to graduate from US flight school.

Faiz is the pride of the Afghan airforce as the first pilot to graduate from US flight school.

Afghan of the week is Lt. Faiz Ramaki who is the first Afghan pilot to graduate from US flight school in 50 years. Understandibly the US instructors are very proud of this, as with each TM pupil who leaves the school to go onto college or get a vocational job.

Dramatic lightning storm last night. It started overhead and then lit up the wider landscape with the hills silhouetted black against the barrage of flashes beyond. As the power went down so security guards light their compounds by setting off bright flares, green and red. Occasionally a hillside district’s lighting is reconnected, sparkling back to life. Quite a light show from the roof of the fort.

Building – All is going well although life is getting busier by the day in the new role of Murad Khane Project Manager. I’m just putting together a contract for infrastructure. One of the key points is risk of terrorist attack which the RIBA guide states as ‘unlikely’ but of course they’re not used to building in Afghanistan.

Duncan DJ

*For those interested in TM’s goals they can be found at www.turquoisemountain.org