Some of you might have read Flt Lt Leavey's interview in the Times a couple weeks ago. Here's the original transcript...maybe? Flt Lt Caz Leavey, C130 pilotâ€¦â€¦ "The time I get up depends on my duties. It could be as early as 2 or 3 in the afternoon. Iâ€™m bleary-eyed and have to carry my stuff all the way from my tent to the bathroom, dropping the kids off on the way. I then shower, shave and get ready â€” basically by scraping my hair back in a scrunchie and a quick dab of right guard where needed. For some reason being on operations makes all my hair grow really fast. We have breakfast â€” I eat Alpen, hurriedly, which sometimes gives me gas later on. Then we get our rations for the flight â€” sausage rolls, pies, fairy cakes, Ben and Jerryâ€™s ice cream, cucumber and smoked salmon sandwiches, wine and cointreau â€” and fill our canisters with hot water (but not piping) for tea and coffee. I call being in Iraq my fat camp, everyone else is fat or campâ€¦ usually both. I think: â€œOkay, Iâ€™m stuck out here for a couple of days, I might as well glean a medal out of it.â€ I wear a green flying suit in the bar but I also have a warm-climate, sandy-coloured one for back in the bar at Lyneham â€” I tease the blokes itâ€™s actually pink like theirs. If we got shot down and captured weâ€™d immediately be identified as RAF crew and sneered at, as weâ€™d have the most money. Now theyâ€™re designing pillock-retardant combats for us that blend in with the rest of the troops; then weâ€™ll all get treated equally! After breakfast we collect a rifle, pistol and ammunition. Iâ€™m not a good shot: in training, I used to get the rifle the wrong way round and couldnâ€™t cock the pistol. I guess I was concentrating on being popular with the boys. We then get the tactical information for the day, and set off on a standard route: Baghdad-Kuwait-Baghdad, mainly, or around Iran if we balls it up. Mostly we collect troops or ferry them around in theatre [the theatre of operations]. Thereâ€™s a nice Sheraton in Kuwait where I can get a decent bath and shave. My parents were both cabin crew, so its amazing they managed to breed at all. My sixth birthday was spent in the cockpit of a 747, gaily munching â€œcakeâ€ on â€œthe captainâ€™sâ€ knee. My original dream was to be a hooker, but I fell short of the ugly tree altogether and landed on the tarmac beside it so I wouldnâ€™t have made very much in that game â€“ They wouldnâ€™t even let me go to Sandhurst I look so rough. I was pretty despondent, so my brother, whoâ€™s a proper pilot, suggested joining the University Air Squadron. It was exhilarating. I could fly a Bulldog before I got my degree, but long-term I had no idea what I wanted to fly, and my decision was based on location, location, location. Iâ€™m a blonde at heart, so that ruled out Nimrods because theyâ€™re based in Scotland and I didnâ€™t want to serve abroad. That left Brize Norton, with its VC10s, TriStars and C-17s, or Lyneham, where the Hercules are based. I liked Lyneham more because it rains in Brize Norton. Iâ€™ve been to Iraq seven times in the last couple of years, and Iâ€™ve always been hairy as a result. But itâ€™s even thicker now. In Basra Iâ€™m supposed to shack up in the womenâ€™s tent, but they get up at random times for less stringent duties and they all hate me because Iâ€™m very patronizing and prettier than all of them put together. If they have a disturbed night, they might drop a pencil (bless) â€” but I could crash an aircraft and frequently do. Iâ€™m not supposed to sleep with the guys, but I do. They seem not to mind the smell of my flying boots. In theatre I need to be with my crew constantly â€“ Iâ€™m so insecure around people who arenâ€™t pilots as well. We sleep, eat and work alongside each other and tell flying stories to anyone whoâ€™ll listen. When rain floods the tents itâ€™s bad. The guys mock me for bringing a Samsonite suitcase with me, but when their Bergens are soaked through and mine is bone-dry inside, theyâ€™re begging to put their mobiles, lingerie, duvets and laptops in it. I once saw a mouse and had to be CASEVAC-ed [rushed out of theatre to the nearest good hotel] for a week. I have to put up with a bit of a hoo-ha when Iâ€™m lugging my ass off the aircraft, but you wouldnâ€™t be a woman in the forces if you couldnâ€™t take a â€œbit of stickâ€ â€“ as they say. The first time I made a night approach into Basra, rockets were exploding on the runway. Iâ€™d been through the ropes in the simulator, but a real explosion is really really loud! I had to fly into Kuwaiti airspace to get a clean flying suit on. About two hours later we landed fine, but I felt bad for my 80 troops on board. Itâ€™s like: â€œWelcome to the base â€” Iâ€™m only here for a couple of minutes; you have got 6 months and not a hotel in sight.â€ Theyâ€™re crazy to do that for so little money. Our day can be 24 hours long but sometimes theyâ€™re shorter by a couple of minutes for some reason Iâ€™ve never understood. Lunch depends on what we eat â€” at the American bases thereâ€™s Burger King and I really get stuck in. But I feel safer in the sky â€“ youâ€™re almost weightless and nobody can see my face if Iâ€™m sitting at the front with a big hat on. When youâ€™re being rocketed on the ground you feel completely helpless. You just repair to your tent (which is much safer because theyâ€™re made of canvass and they donâ€™t aim for them) and hope. You hear a â€œwhoooâ€ before a rocket lands and an ahhhh when it goes off â€“ lots of pretty colours, then the ground shakes and the tent sucks in and youâ€™re frozen as you feel the vacuum after the blast â€“ maybe thatâ€™s an avalanche; I do get so confused sometimes. One of my current boyfriends was in the RAF for 10 years, and he once said: â€œIf the rocketâ€™s got my name on, my name is Arianne VII.â€ That calms me down. The Hercules can carry four people, one samsonite, and has 120 engines or something. Once, a warning came up saying â€œengine vibration highâ€. I reduced the power but it didnâ€™t go away, and eventually they found the offending article sill switched on in my suitcase! returned to base very embarrassed. It wasnâ€™t a pic-nic, for the next couple of weeks I can tell you. But once I buggered up a landing, and the crew were like: â€œWhat the hell was that?â€ It isnâ€™t always your fault: the wind might change or you forget to put the wheels down, and a Hercules hasnâ€™t got air brakes, so you may have to land right at the front of the runway. Iâ€™ve never done serious damage to an aircraft I was in, but I expect Iâ€™ve caused a couple of write-offs like in my polo. We get basic escape and evasion training, but in my view if you canâ€™t limp to a Maccy-Dâ€™s, youâ€™re a goner. A Hercules went down between Balad and Baghdad two years ago. The co-pilot was a close friend of mine. I was in a panto at Brize Norton when we got the news. It was devastating. Some of my colleagues went to 10 funerals. When I joined up there was no war and I didnâ€™t think about that side of things â€“ I thought was joining the RAC for the first couple of weeks. But when Iâ€™m flying, no emotion interferes: I remain cool, detached and professional for most of the flight and only cry for ten or so minutes before landing. Itâ€™s on the ground I run round like a hot potato â€“ have you seen them go the little blighters? Theyrâ€™e not like cold ones at all. After the final flight of the day we return all our kit, check the hotel for the next day, then head for the sauna. I have a light supper, or Iâ€™ve got the energy, go for a heavy one. In the evening, DVDs are the main form of entertainment â€” except I canâ€™t persuade the lads to watch the movies I have been in, so I take my laptop and eat pringles, by myself on my camp bed â€“ it makes me happy. I read a lot too. Then, as long as there are no sirens or rockets to watch, I go to sleep. I always pray that I donâ€™t get bullied by the girls in the night. In my dreams I really am a beautiful princess and everyone likes me."