First Blood…..Sidindi Island (Part 3)

November 20, 2010

Still in the gunship.

I was fascinated by a tiny length of wool that had been tied to one of the antennae outside the front of the cockpit perspex bubble…I cannot remember the colour…it fluttered helplessly in the wind stream….I wondered what it was there for?…..some kind of good luck charm for the crew or what?  I was later to see these strange pieces of wool on every Alo I flew in and found out that it was an improvised cockpit instrument… apparently helped the pilot to confirm that he was flying in a straight line and not crabbing to one side…….what a simple but clever idea.  Strange Aerospatiale never thought of this.

We had been flying for about 40 minutes I guess when the chopper lurched to the left and began its descent.  I held onto my seat a little tighter. Looking past the gunner I could see a dirt road beneath us and just a quick glimpse of a rather sad looking Bedford RL canted down on one side at the front like a wounded beast with a foreleg missing…..she was however still a proud looking old girl.

The chopper circled the area a few times like a dog looking for a place to sleep before the pilot and gunner were satisfied they had found the spot to put us down and that there were no evil gooks about…….and we began our descent…..all the while the gunner kept a sharp lookout for the enemy as well as any vegetation that might cause the Alo damage on landing.  As we neared the ground the down-wash from the blades flattened the grass and sent up a cloud of dust and grass seeds……we picked up our kit (including the MMD 1 dinosaur metal detector) and jumped into the unknown.  We all knew what to do…..straight out into all round defence…..FN cocking handles pulled back and released…working parts smoothly picking up a 7,62 x 51mm peacemaker… while the chopper lifted gracefully into the sky and turned back towards home..a gloved thumbs up from the pilot…the sound of the engine slowly fading……leaving silence and a feeling of utter loneliness.

7 Responses to “First Blood…..Sidindi Island (Part 3)”

  1. Michaelvan said

    Hi Mark
    Im still amazed at the detail that you remember. Keep up the good work.
    What was your Rank at the time.


    • Mark Craig said

      Thanks Mike….I can assure you that I have forgotten more than I remember. There are just some things that one can never forget.

      When I left Rhodesia in 1980 I was a sergeant in the regular army.

      Cheers and thanks for the ongoing support to all my efforts,


  2. Eeben Barlow said

    Hi Mark,

    It certainly brings back memories of my first incident I had to attend to.

    Keep it up!



  3. The wool was red and yes it was designed by Aerospatiale…. we told you guys it was where they attached the price tag to!!!

  4. Kallie Calitz said

    I am really enjoying your blog. It brings back so many memories. It is just a pity we have to wait so long for your next episode.

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