Photos of the dramatic October 3 rescue of Polish Ambassador Edward Pietrzy show just how risky the maneuver was for the skilled Blackwater helicopter pilot.
It's no small thing to land a helicopter with its spinning rotor blades into a city street. Apart from possible terrorists and insurgents, the real dangers to the crew were the many lightposts and telephone and electrical lines that bordered the landing area.
In the top photo, the Blackwater "Little Bird" is shown landing, with high lamp posts on the right and what appear to be telephone or electrical poles on the left. The lower photo shows phone or electrical wires strung across the street. The slightest pilot error, shift in weight or unexpected wind could have caused havoc with the helicopter and with the people on the ground. The mission, however, was a complete success.