Note: This is part of a series about Phil Campion’s experiences in SAS selection. You can read part one here.
The door cracked open on the plane and within a millisecond, the whole plane was engulfed by a hot, sticky, humid heat. It was late and the orange glow of the airport’s lights obscured my view out of the small airplane window, which was half steamed up. I had not taken my seat belt off before the plane was boarded by the local police for the now familiar paperwork/bullshit exchange. I didn’t envy the job of the RAF crew one bit.
The comings and goings of strangely uniformed Asian-looking men subsided, and the Tannoy crackled alive, this time with the voice of a woman, and announced it was time to leave via the front steps. We would make a short walk to the large hangar to the front of the plane, where our people would be waiting for us. As I came down the steps holding onto my belt kit and weapon, I could see the four-tonne trucks lined up, engines running, ready to go. Like lemmings, we just filled the trucks without caring who we were sitting next to, and as soon as the vehicles were full and the last tailgate slammed shut, we took off out of the hangar, heading toward the main gates of the airport.
The heat was incredible; I was sweating like a rapist in a college shower block. The whine of the truck engines just about drowned any other noise out as we sped down dimly lit, poorly maintained roads on our way to the base camp. Nobody was really chatting. It was about 2300 and we knew once we got to camp it would not be bed time straightaway, and we would be getting up properly early. I didn’t want to sleep because, not knowing how far we had to go, I thought I might feel worse off if I was awakened after only a short time. Eventually the street lighting disappeared and the road surface made any form of relaxation a dream. But I picked up the orange flash of the indicators against the side of the mud track, and sure enough, we peeled off to the left. I could tell we were there given the lights coming from the accommodation blocks.