Iraq was the first overseas work I did for Kenn Borek Air. I went to Iraq as an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (AME) to maintain the company's Twin Otter that was leased to the UN for the UNIIMOG mission. This page is light on pictures for the simple reason that during the time I was in Iraq they were very sensitive about taking pictures. You were allowed to take pictures so long as it was not of something with military significance, however it was not possible to know what they would consider of military significance. For this reason I thought it was better to err on the side of safety.

Just finding your way around Baghdad was an experience since there were no road maps, at least none that I, or anyone I knew, could find, and virtually no street signs. This meant that you basically had to memorize the places you wanted to go and directions were given with reference to city landmarks. We had radios to communicate with the UN headquarters and it was occasionally entertaining listening. I recall one evening when the radio operators were trying to give some Irish MP's directions to the scene of a traffic accident, however the MP's were new to the mission so they didn't know their way around the city. After about an hour of this it was finally decided that the accident victims and the MP's would meet at a local hotel that everyone knew how to find, fortunately it wasn't a bad accident.

I'm including the maps for Jordan and Cyprus since we spent some time in both these countries while on this mission. Every weekend we would fly to Larnaca, Cyprus hauling freight for the UN in both directions. Since we always had time in Cyprus The copilot and myself got our advanced PADI SCUBA licence, we arranged to do a few lessons each time we were there. After Desert Storm started we obviously couldn't go back to Baghdad (luckily we were on one of our regular trips to Cyprus when it happened) but the contract didn't expire till the end of January. That meant we had two weeks were we could explore the island and travel. We spent time in Nicosia, Aya Napa, and Larnaca.

map of Jordan
map of Iraq

map of Cyprus

Amman, Jordan

The picture above is of Amman, Jordan. Iraq was my first experience working overseas and Amman was one of my stops on the way there. I flew from Calgary, Alberta to London, England on British Airways and then Royal Jordanian to Amman. I was travelling with another pilot who was also new to the area. We got into Amman late at night, no body met us at the airport so we asked a cab driver to take us to the best hotel in town. Somehow there was a communications mix up and we were not given the message on how to contact the people who were supposed to meet us. Since we knew we were working with the UN we looked through the phone book and contacted the first UN agency we saw. Fortunately we got somebody at the first agency we called that knew what was going on and arranged a ride for us to the airport. We could not take a scheduled airline flight on to Baghdad since none were allowed to enter Iraq due to the embargo. The aircraft we were sent there to operate was to pass through Amman on the way back to Baghdad from Cyprus and we caught a ride on it.

Twin Otter in Cyprus

This was the aircraft we were operating. This picture was taken at the airport in Larnaca, Cyprus and we were just playing around with some of the gear we were given, we have the flak jackets, helmets, and gas masks on.. We had complete sets of flak jackets, helmets, and NBC (Nuclear, Bacteriological, and Chemical) suits. Actually we each had two complete sets as one was kept on the aircraft all the time. We never had occasion to need to use any of it, though.

Once we got into Baghdad we had to get our ID sorted out. This was one of the UN ID cards I got, I also had to take a driving test under the supervision of a UN examiner in order to get a UN drivers licence. This was because the UN provided vehicles for us while we were there.  I've been cautioned about security concerns having an ID card on the net so that is the reason it has some information blurred out on it. UNIIMOG ID card

airport pass The next thing we had to work on was to get airport passes so we could get to the aircraft. They were obviously pretty serious about airport security at that time but it wasn't too difficult a process. At least it wasn't for us, I'm not really sure what hoops the UN personnel that actually did most of the work had to go through. For security reasons it has some information blurred out on it.

Kuwaiti Airbus

This is a picture of one of the Kuwait Airways Airbus A310's that the Iraqi's "liberated" from Kuwait. They were repainting them as fast as possible into Iraqi Airways green and white colours, not that they could fly them anywhere. The amount of material that we saw being shipped up from Kuwait was amazing, everything from the aircraft and supplies for it to watches and cameras.

Aya Napa, Cyprus

Since the UN was having difficulty moving supplies in and out of Iraq because of the embargo most of the work we did while I was there was a weekly flight to Cyprus. We would leave on Friday and return Sunday, usually hauling freight out of Iraq and supplies back. We stayed at a lot of different locations on the island, the picture above is a view out of one of the hotels we stayed at in Cyprus. This one was in Aya Napa, which was a popular tourist destination for a lot of Europeans. We returned here every weekend for a several weeks and the copilot, JC Armstrong, and myself got our PADI SCUBA licences. There is a picture of him below. After Desert Storm started we obviously couldn't go back to Baghdad, however the contract wasn't over until the end of January. We used the two weeks to do a more thorough inspection of the island as well as make use of our new SCUBA licences.

JC Armstrong

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