Pilot from Serbia for TV Prva re: the chaos in Kabul: We took off without permission

Jovica Rajhl pilot who managed to transport the plane from Kabul described for TV Prva what it was like to leave Afghanistan after Taliban took over the capital

Source: B92, Prva
Foto: Tanjug/AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski
Foto: Tanjug/AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski

As he pointed out, he was in the operational center of the company where he worked, and around 11, 12 o'clock, they received information that the Taliban entered Kabul on August 15 without firing a bullet.

"I witnessed the moment when the crowd rushed to the civilian part of Kabul airport. It was indescribable, it should be seen, as when people leave the stadium. It was an attempt by people to save themselves and get on a plane. In despair and panicked, they sought a way out of Kabul", Rajhl told TV Prva.

Reichl managed to transport a certain number of passengers from Afghanistan by plane, and he said that they were actually supposed to leave the country the next day, on August 16, in the evening.

"That changed in a flash, plans changed. We flew from Kabul to Tbilisi at around 8.30 pm where we refueled and flew to Kiev, which was actually the plan before. At around 2 pm, Turkish troops took control of the airspace above Kabul and Flight control. Communication was only possible among NATO members. We as a civilian plane tried to get in touch with them, but we did not have any approval until the final three minutes when the engines started and the takeoff itself," the pilot described to TV Prva.

He explained that on the day they took off, there were no checks when entering the airport.

"They only closed the main entrance to the airport at one point, it was closed for 3, 4 hours. A mass of people on the other side (jumped over) the walls, 10, 15 meters high. A mass of people were trying to enter, because the Taliban were already armed headed for the airport. Everyone was afraid that something would happen to them. They jumped the barbed wire, they managed to do it somehow. Then I was on the main platform, we were lucky to be parked on another platform about a kilometer away from that main building", Rajhl said.

The pilot pointed out that it was the civilian part of the plane, because they could not enter the military zone, since there were about 3.000 U.S. soldiers there. He described what a runway with a large number of people looked like.

"Two planes with passengers planned to take off. The crowd rushed away fleeing from people with rifles. You don't know who is who at that moment. We were lucky to be parked on another part of the airport and closer to the runway. Nobody at that moment he did not follow us, otherwise we would not be able to start the engines. It was all done without flight control. I think they monitored us and listened to our messages. We practically took off without permission, but certainly with surveillance. There were numerous helicopters", Rajhl pointed out.

"We heard that they said in encrypted messages to helicopters, even though it was dark, they listened to the messages on one frequency and they said exactly 737. They had information. The only fear was that someone would appear on the runway, so we would have to decide whether to postpone the flight or continue", he added.


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