This is going back to 2005...sorry, I just joined.
This was my least favorite travel experience and I have flown (back in the early '70's) TACA's whistle stop at all Central American airports from San Jose SJO to MIA. I have also flown on one of Lacsa's old DC-3's from San Jose to Putarenas, Costa Rica and those were all more enjoyable flights.Kandahar AF to Tampa International 2005
Returning home after a stint as a military contractor @ Kandahar AF, Afghanistan
Flight one- C-130 out of KAF
Take off is after a rare rain storm and it's a dirt, now mud airstrip so that was a little white knuckle takeoff I thought:
The noise is incredibly loud and all I had was some noise cancelling headphones that were not doing it, I picked a seat by the only window on the not so comfortable web seating for the 500 mile flight to the airbase outside of Qarshi in Uzbekistan.
The toilet/head on board lacked some in privacy: (you just lifted the lid on this contraption in the middle of the cabin)
Being a prop plane we didn't fly as high as a jet over the Hindu Kush but the view was fantastic:
Sometimes just right over the top of the mountains:
There were about 30 contractors on the flight out and I couldn't help but notice there were parachutes for the air crew only...nice..lol:
We land at the old Soviet Air Base outside of Qarshi for a overnight stay in the transient tent.
The AF has some old MIG-29's that look like they haven't taken off since the Russians left. (we weren't allowed to take pics of the planes)
They also had the bunkers for the planes, it was strange to know I was at ground zero for US nukes back in the Cold War, that's one behind me:
Next day we get the van to the commercial airport in Qarshi, it was winter and somehow colder inside the terminal then outside. We were told to avoid the food sold there if we didn't want Stalin's Revenge...but then we were on standby for the next Air Uzbekistan flight to the capital 250 miles away and were there about 7 hours...so I had to get something at the snack bar, got hot tea and toast with caviar, .90 cents US or several thousand of the local currency S'om..lol (about 8,000 to the dollar) The bathrooms at the airport were a literal nightmare, hole in the floor, no doors and a old Uzbek lady selling TP a few squares at a time. (no pics of that..lol)
Now the trip gets to the real scary part to me....Air Uzbekistan local flights...their motto: "It's Always Scary"
When we finally get a flight I see a really old dude (70+) and a really young dude (20-) come out of the bar, they were the Pilot and Co-pilot..
very reassuring....we were told NO PHOTOS of the plane/runways/military air craft parked around the field...I was thinking, cool, maybe some operational MIGs....we walk out to the plane to enter the aircraft via a set of ventral airstairs in the rear fuselage and I see the Uzbek Air Force planes they didn't want photos of....a bunch of Antonov An-2's Bi-planes!!! LOL
Then I saw our plane, a vintage YAK-40, in production from 1967 to 1981 and the laughter ran away....the right landing gear tire was completely bald down to the cord all the way across....I would not have driven a car with that tire around the block. Yikes.
I did take one fast shot of the interior as I made my way to my seat:
It was winter and all the locals had fur jackets and hats that had never been washed I believe...it was rank.
The cute blond stew comes by with the drink cart and we had our choice of tomato or prune juice....I lean back a little too much I guess and the seat goes snap and I end up in the lap of the guy behind me.
Parts of Uzbekistan literally looked like the moon from above:
We survive the landing with the bald tire at Tashkent Airport and get a bus to a downtown hotel. I hit the bar and order a vodka & OJ, the bartender asks me if i want pepper in it...?!? No..
By midnight I start to feel the beginning if Stalin's Revenge and start driving the porcelain bus. Early bus to the airport at 5am and i am feeling SO sick. I sit near my gate with a plastic barf bag.
At least now we are on a AirUzbek Airbus that has to pass European regs so that was nice but then for the 7hr flight to Frankfort they jam Russian MTV on all the screens, it was god awful and could have been used as torture to extract info.
We finally make Frankfurt Airport and my ATM card gets rejected at the McD's and all i have is Uzbek S'om...lol..no food for me.
Lufthansa to JFK and then something called TED Airlines to TIA.....I was a zombie by the time I got to TIA.