The pilot who commanded the C-17 aircraft on which Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., flew into Bosnia says there wasn’t even a bumblebee flying around when the aircraft landed with the now-Democratic presidential hopeful.
Col. William “Goose” Changose told radio talk show host Rusty Humphries today that the area was secured for the March 25, 1996, landing, with tanks around the base and helicopters flying overhead.
“I gotta tell ya, I will give it to the commander of Air Base Eagle. He had that place – you know, not only were there no bullets flying around, there wasn’t a bumblebee flying around,” the pilot told Humphries.
Clinton’s trip to Bosnia has become an election issue because of her repeated references to the sniper danger that was there the day she landed. She has used the trip as a reference point when she describes her foreign policy experience.
“I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base,” the then-first lady said in a recent speech.
In her book, “Living History,” she described the situation this way: “Due to reports of snipers in the hills around the airstrip, we were forced to cut short an event on the tarmac with local children, though we did have time to meet them and their teachers and to learn how hard they had worked during the war to continue classes in any safe spot they could find.”
The comedian Sinbad, who was traveling with Clinton at the time, told the Washington Post he couldn’t recall any gunfire or any threat of it.
Hillary Clinton arriving in Bosnia in 1996
Clinton’s campaign later conceded she “misspoke” about the trip, and Clinton herself has described it as a “minor blip” and a “misstatement.”
Changose said there wasn’t even a hint of a threat, because he would not have landed under such circumstances while carrying Clinton on his flight.
The senator had described approaching the landing using an “evasive maneuver.”
“No evasive maneuver,” Changose said.
He said Clinton’s statement that the airplane was armored is correct but that a major reason for using that aircraft instead of the typical presidential jet such as Air Force One is that the runway requires pilots to make steeper descents and climbs while landing and taking off.
She described how she was taken up front to the cockpit and others were ordered to sit on their flak jackets. But Changose says he was the commander of the flight and never ordered that anyone sit on their flak jackets.
“We did the same approach we did every time, a steep approach,” he said. “There are hills around. Every landing into there was the same way.”
There were no bullets flying, he confirmed, because he was up in the cockpit, and “we probably would have seen them.”
Humphries told WND he happened to call Changose to get some details about such flights, since the two had met when Humphries traveled to Hawaii for another story.
Changose then confirmed that he had been the pilot of the aircraft.
He said if there had been any sniper fire present, “We wouldn’t have landed. I wouldn’t have let her outside the plane,” he said. “The fact that we landed tells you there’s nothing going to happen.”
The actor Sinbad has told reporters the “scariest” part was worrying about whether “we eat here or at the next place.”
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