Spectacularly Crashing Your Helicopter

A war photo a day #39

Spectacularly Crashing Your Helicopter Spectacularly Crashing Your Helicopter

Uncategorized October 20, 2013 David Axe 0

David Axe photo Spectacularly Crashing Your Helicopter A war photo a day #39 by DAVID AXE Eight years. Eight wars. More death and destruction... Spectacularly Crashing Your Helicopter

David Axe photo

Spectacularly Crashing Your Helicopter

A war photo a day #39

by DAVID AXE

Eight years. Eight wars. More death and destruction than I care to recount. I’ve been covering armed conflict since 2005. Every battlefield has its stories … and its unforgettable images. Follow me through my career at war, one jarring, haunting or sublime photo a day until I run out.

In early 2012 I was back in Afghanistan, aiming to cover an aspect of the war rarely covered by most media. More than most wars, the Afghan conflict is seasonal. When the temperature drops and snow and ice blanket the eastern mountains, the Taliban hunkers down, resupplies, trains, plans.

And so do the Americans. In the winter of 2012, U.S. Army troops from the 172nd Infantry Brigade took advantage of the seasonal lull to build a new base astride a Taliban supply route in Marzak, in the mountains of Paktika province.

David Axe photo

With the roads cut off by snow and ice, helicopters were the soldiers’ main lifeline. Cargo choppers hauled in people and supplies and Apache gunships flew top cover. But the high, thin air, cold temperatures and blowing snow made every copter flight potentially deadly for the crews.

On Feb. 6, shortly after my visit, an Apache crew flying a low turn over the Paktika outpost misjudged the sink rate in the thin air and crashed spectacularly, literally bouncing over soldiers and civilians on the ground. It’s a miracle no one was killed.

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