The final stages of the flight were also an experience. Even at the best of times, traveling in a C-17 is an uncomfortable few hours, a combination of freezing cold and jet engine din. As we approached Kandahar, however, it felt like we were on a roller coaster, hurtling toward the earth with engines howling while lurching from side to side. I later found out that this may have been a "tactical approach" to avoid potential ground fire. Soon, though, we were on the tarmac, and minutes later the C-17's huge rear doors opened, the sun glinting between the huge piles of boxes stacked throughout the hold. One passenger started putting on his body armor, but a crewmember gestured that he shouldn't bother -- it seemed that it was relatively calm outside.