The heavy aircraft touched down hard and gradually slows while the vibrations from the engines dwindle. It almost feels as if the plane will fall apart. It always feels that way. The metallic rattling noises bombarding your eardrums from all directions serve as a reminder that you are in a piece of equipment constructed by the lowest bidder.
Even on the ground, the feeling of safety is marginal while the craft is in motion. The shifting floor panels and mechanical symphony cause by cheap steel, loose bolts, and shoddy electronic components, inspire little confidence in the craft’s occupants. The only distraction, the upcoming mission. Sometimes, it is enough.
The craft does not stop while it maneuvers towards the rendezvous location. The rattling gear fills the belly of the metal beast. The commander looks around at the nervous gazes, closed eyes with quietly moving mouths, and repetitive equipment checks. His men line the two sides of the crafts interior. The mesh netting is barely able to contend with the heavy loads. He gets to his feet and looks down both lines but says nothing. He waits.
The adrenaline increases as the ramp starts going down. Light breaks through the opening that emerges from the back of the craft, followed by immense amounts of dust. A gust of hot and humid air adds to the environmental discomfort.
From near the cockpit, he looks towards the ramp, and then at his team. Every member takes one look at their leader. He nods and they all come to their feet. He goes through his personal mission checklist. Deep breath in. Let it out slowly. Eyes open. Ears tuned in. Be present. Stay sharp. Focus. Get the job done and bring everyone home.