A recording captured the stunned reaction of an air-traffic controller at the Kabul airport, where a massive US Air Force cargo plane carried some 640 Afghan refugees out of the fallen capital.
“OK, how many people do you think are on your jet – 800 people on your jet? Holy f—, holy cow!” the controller says, according to CNN, citing a number that just slightly exceeded the stunning load of passengers later captured in a now iconic image.
Scores of Afghans attempting to flee the war-torn country in the wake of the Taliban takeover rushed the partly open ramp of the C-17 Globemaster III and packed the jet’s expanisve hold for a flight to Qatar, according to Defense One, which obtained the jarring photo.
In total, about 640 refugees made it out of Kabul, a defense official told the publication, far more people than the crew had intended to transport.
“The crew made the decision to go,” an official told the outlet.
The gargantuan aircraft, which used the call sign Reach 871, is stationed out of Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, the report said, and belongs to the 436th Air Wing.