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UNDER FIRE
Lawmakers' Plane Dodges Missiles over Baghdad
"Evasive Action": C-130 Shakes Three Rockets With Four Congressmen Aboard
08/30/2007 8:18 PM ET
Sen. Richard Shelby, (R-AL), was aboard the targeted plane.
Alex Wong/Getty.
Sen. Richard Shelby, (R-AL), was aboard the targeted plane.
WASHINGTON, Aug. 30 (UPI) -- A U.S. military plane carrying three Republican senators had to take evasive action after it came under ground fire as it took off from Baghdad Thursday.

The three projectiles all missed after evasive action and counter-measures were taken and no one aboard the C-130 Hercules jet was hurt, according to Laura Henderson, spokeswoman for Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., one of those on board.

“They have landed safely in Amman (Jordan),” she told United Press International, saying she had no further details.

Also on board were Sens. James Inhofe, R-Okla., and Mel Martinez, R-Fla., and Rep. Robert “Bud” Cramer, D-Ala.

"It was dark as the dickens outside, and I was looking out the little window. I saw the red glare of a shell or a missile coming up toward our plane," Shelby said in a telephone interview with Alabama reporters cited by the Huntsville, Ala., Times Web site. "Then I saw a flare pop out and our plane just started moving and changing directions and trying to move,” said Shelby.

He said the crew had done “a tremendous job evading the missiles ... We owe them."

“On departure from Baghdad our plane took fire from three ground to air missiles,” said an e-mail message sent by a person on board to a UPI reporter.

The projectiles “could have been RPGs” or rocket propelled grenades, the e-mail said.

“After visually detecting the incoming missiles,” the flight crew “took evasive maneuvers and deployed counter-measures on all three shots.”

“One crew member told me that (helicopters) were called in on the shooters’ positions,” concluded the e-mail.

Aircraft taking off from Baghdad often come under anti-aircraft fire.

Shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles known as MANPADs are a favorite anti-aircraft weapon for insurgent groups.

In November 2003, a U.S. C-130 was hit by a missile, but survived. There has only been one confirmed fatal shoot-down of the Hercules workhorse in Iraq -- in January 2005, when 10 British military personnel were killed when their C-130 was shot down north west of Baghdad.

Article originally published by UPI. Reprinted with permission.

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