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In my article on the Baghdad Press Corps and its perceived need to display faux bravado because it has no real bravado, I noted one way they did this was by grossly exaggerating the "terrors" of landing at Baghdad International Airport. This included Time Magazine's Baghdad bureau chief Aparism Ghosh. I wrote:
"In an August 2006 cover story, [Ghosh] devotes five long paragraphs to the alleged horror of landing there [in a Fokker F28 from Amman, Jordan].
It's "the world's scariest landing," he insists, as if he were an expert on all the landings of all the planes at all the world's airports and military airfields. It's "a steep, corkscrewing plunge," a "spiraling dive, straightening up just yards from the runway. If you're looking out the window, it can feel as if the plane is in a free fall from which it can't possibly pull out." Writes Ghosh, "During one especially difficult landing in 2004, a retired American cop wouldn't stop screaming 'Oh, God! Oh, God!' I finally had to slap him on the face - on instructions from the flight attendant."
I then quoted a reporter saying it was a bunch of nonsense. "The plane just banks heavily," he said.
Recently I heard from a pilot who does the Amman-Baghdad run:
Well done for taking on Aparisim Ghosh about his report on the descent into Baghdad in the Fokker F28.
I too feel he overplayed the drama excessively. It may well be the world's scariest civilian landing, but as for him claiming he was instructed by a flight attendant to slap a hysterical passenger - no truth to this at all.
How do I know? I have done about 250 descents into Baghdad in the Fokker - I fly the thing. And I have asked all of our flight attendants if any of them have ever told a passenger to slap another passenger, and all have replied no.
During descent one of the flight attendants sits in front on the forward bulkhead with his/her back to the passengers, and the other sits right at the back next to the toilet!!
Truth is, most times into Baghdad it's pretty straightforward, we come overhead at anywhere between 9000' to 29000' and once cleared for descent we must remain within a 3 mile radius of the airport center point which requires a maximum bank of about 45 degrees. Under normal circumstances we pitch down about 10 degrees.
He adds that "sometimes it can get hectic" because of "other aircraft, military and civilian, which are also using this 3-mile radius column" but the pressure is on the pilots, not the passengers. "We try and keep it as 'normal' as possible for the passengers, they only notice very few of the dangers we see and avoid."
He concludes: "Keep up the good reporting!" I'm sure Ghosh and his Time crew will keep up their BS reporting, as well.