Slobodan Milosevic: My part in his downfall. Part 1

antonov.jpg

                             CRATE EXPECTATIONS: An Antonov cargo plane


Showbiz reporter ROGER TAVENER is more than a little surprised to be sent to war in Kosovo


What Did You Do In The War, Dad?

Nothing. I Hid In A Five-Star Hotel.


Fuck me. I’m being sent to a war?

Jesus, that’s not showbiz. No doubt somebody wants me rubbed out.

The Kosovo conflict. Balkans. Late 90s.

Do I care? Never even heard of the place.

Al-fucking-bania.

The world’s unwashed armpit. (I was tempted to say anus). Communist.

So I must pose as a Red Cross aid worker. I have a t-shirt and badge. Very fucking convincing.

Fucking hell ... The ‘flight' is from Stansted.

We drive around some vile council estate to pick up the Russian crew.

It’s 8am on a Saturday and they’re all still pissed.

We just motor through security to the cargo planes. There is no security.

There’s an ancient Antonov looking like it wants to commit suicide. The world’s biggest and deadliest aircraft.

That’s it?

Yep.

Fuck me.

The ‘crew' are in jeans and battered trainers.

Only the ‘captain’ can speak a smattering of English.

There are no seats. It’s an empty hulk.

Nobody has checked my passport.

I walk around and there are racks of fur coats. I push through them and find half a dozen Range Rovers. All knocked off, obviously, and being transported around the world under the guise of ‘charity.’

And I’m sure there are drugs stashed everywhere.

That’s a better story than a boring war.

But, I'm doing the war.

And there’s quite a lot of gear to help refugees. 

The plane takes off. I wander about and find a jar of coffee. And an English person from Luton, I didn’t know there was such a thing, lurking among the contraband.

We’re at about 20,000 feet, limping higher, and the side door is still open. It's broken he says.

I could fall out.

Yes. Of course.

Is there a kettle? 

Not really.

He takes me to a boiler on the wall heated by a naked flame.

Isn’t that dangerous?

Yes.

But not as dangerous as this, he says, leading me down a rusty staircase.

Underneath the plane is a glass bubble and a seat and an intercom.

And a person chattering away in Russian.

So what?

Well, he's the navigator and we're following the Danube to Albania.

Fuck me. No satnav or maps or radar?

No. We follow the river. He says go left or right.

This is a Russian plane, which, incidentally, has the worst aviation crash record in the world. That’s why no-one buys them.

So how long before we get to Albania?

Oh, we’re not going straight there. We have to drop off some stuff on the way.

We'll put down in Belgrade. Serbia. The guys like the nightlife there.

What? We just land?

Yeah. It’s like a car park, but for planes.

And, Jesus, these Russian guys can party.

Part 2: The War. 


© 2005-2018 Alastair McIntyre