No one really knows what it'll be like on the ground in Haiti but the expectation is that beyond the devastation and human tragedy it will be an extremely dangerous place.

And all of the very pleasant U.S. government workers — "We're with the State Department" — flying out of Washington, D.C., on Wednesday were evidently prepared for exactly that.

Like CBC News, they were scrambling to get to Haiti on Wednesday morning — flying first to Miami and then connecting onward.

But unlike the rest of the passengers in Washington, these guys all had guns in their carry-on.  Big ones. Twenty-seven of them, scattered about the cabin under seats and in overhead bins.

You sure don't see that everyday.

Indeed, it wasn't long before someone — perhaps American Airlines itself — had second thoughts. 

After a delay at the gate with passengers seated and awaiting takeoff, one of the government workers came back and shouted, "Soft bags out! [The bags with the guns.] Now they want them all in cargo."

And so out came the guns. And then the plane took off.

In Miami, the friendly guys with guns had a convoy of black SUVs waiting for their transfer to another plane.

"Maybe see you in Haiti," said one of them, off to retrieve his soft bag.