It was shocking when a Pakistan International Airlines flight took off with more passengers than seats four years ago (oops) and when a British family was forced to sit on the floor when they lacked seats on a flight out of Spain two years ago.
But a U.S. Air Force C-17 cargo plane carried as many as 800 passengers out of the Hamid Karzai International Airport, more than four times the number of people it would typically hold with cargo on board. (HT: Paddle Your Own Kanoo)
Reports that USAF C-17 RCH871 airborne out of #Kabul in #Afghanistan has 800 passengers on board! Incredible work being done by #USAF and allied aircrews just now which will without a doubt go down in the history books #AvGeek #RadioGeek #MilMonWorld #BravoZulu pic.twitter.com/8De9wLusWb
— Military Monitoring World (@MilMonWorld) August 15, 2021
This was hardly the only plane with more people than seats.
— Saad Mohseni (@saadmohseni) August 15, 2021
And with the Kabul airport under U.S. military control (but probably not secure), it’s largely been military planes airlifting people out of Afghanistan to the exclusion of commercial flights.
This plane is part of a huge fleet. pic.twitter.com/cgYtv3Z2uB
— JeanPhi (@jeanphi01) August 15, 2021
The scene at the airport has been desperate as people have tried to evacuate the country. Many couldn’t get to the airport, and those who made it needed to escape because they’d face Taliban checkpoints if they tried to return home.
Hamid Karzai international airport. 16 August, 2021. pic.twitter.com/LXsAQPpFXG
— BILAL SARWARY (@bsarwary) August 15, 2021
16 August , 2021, Hamid Karzai international Airport. pic.twitter.com/DiPlvnsaaZ
— BILAL SARWARY (@bsarwary) August 16, 2021
استراتژی هوشمندانه بایدن برای خروج از افغانستان! pic.twitter.com/ZEMDAlL8UE
— Marzia Hussaini (@marziahussaini0) August 16, 2021
It turns out that 800 passengers isn’t the most there’s ever been on a single plane. That record belongs to an El Al Boeing 747 flight which carried approximately 1080 passengers (there are varying reports of the exact number) out of Ethiopia as part of Operation Solomon in May 1991, a 36 hour effort to evacuate 14,325 Jews in advance of the government’s fall there.
Ultimately the U.S. spent $2.7 trillion over 20 years and lost lives yet failed to build institutions that could survive on their own. Continued U.S. presence wouldn’t have changed that. There weren’t nearly as many Afghan troops as the government claimed (and, in effect, billed the U.S. for) and many of those troops took Taliban payoffs to surrender. When we left, though, we abandoned those who had supported us. We should now take any Afghan civilians who are able to escape their circumstance and come here.
— jawidomid (@jawidomid) August 16, 2021