2008: The U.S. military has a lot of small detachments all over Afghanistan,
and Central Asian nations to the north. Keeping these bases supplied, and
getting people in and out, can be difficult, because there is often no large
air field nearby. Enter Blackwater International, the security company that
guards many of the American, and local, big shots in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Blackwater has its own charter airline, Presidential Airways. For the last five
years, this outfit has supplied transport services to these out of the way
places. Presidential uses 8 ton CASA 212 and 19 ton Dash-8 twin engine
transports, as well as some medium helicopters. It's the twin engine transports
that do most of the work. One CASA 212 was lost in 2004, as it made a tricky
approach to a land in a high altitude box canyon. But most of the time, the
Presidential Air transports get in and out of tight spaces intact, and with
hardly any publicity.
transports (fixed wing and helicopter) are stretched thin in places like
Afghanistan, especially now that the Taliban are using more roadside bombs.
There are a few other charter airlines helping out, but Blackwater keeps busy
by providing smaller, agile, aircraft for the most out-of-the way places. Most
of these aircraft are flown by former military pilots.