Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Final Flight of the C-141 Starlifter
Since May 6th the view has drastically changed outside of my office window. There is a C-141 Starlifter sitting just outside, and it's the last C-141 in the world. It flew its last flight on May 6th, when the Air Force Museum had the aircraft flown into its airstrip to be readied for display. Not only is this the last C-141, it is the most famous C-141 to have ever flown.
On 12 February 1973 this C-141 (tail #660177) departed Hanoi, Vietnam, carrying dozens of Prisoners of War back to the United States. This aircraft was dubbed the 'Hanoi Taxi', and has been pulling double duty as an active airlifter and a flying museum. Now that the new C-17s are online, the C-141s have all been sent to the scrap yard in Arizona to be destroyed.
All but the Hanoi Taxi. It flew just over my house as it made its final landing on the Air Force Museum's tiny airstrip. The crowd that gathered for the aircraft's retirement ceremony took a quick tour inside, and then the crews bolted up the doors, sealed the windows, and towed the plane to the Museum embalmers.
So now I get to watch the Museum crews clean it up and pull out all of the fluids and fuel to get it ready for its new display hanger. Should be a good tribute to Vietnam Veterans.
It's amazing how much history is sitting right around me. From the Air Force Museum, the Wright-Brother's original airstrip and hanger to the Air Force Research Labs that have invented hundreds of things we use daily, Wright-Patterson is a great place to be if you're an aviation or history buff.
posted by El Capitan at 8:55 AM
Sounds mighty attractive to me. You have your very own history book out your office window.
Loved your pics - stirred some memories - made me cry a bit. Terrible and wonderful things to remember.
What a great tribute. The C-141 was my hubby's first airframe as a maintainer. When we Space-Aed to Hawaii he insisted we take the C-141 back home since it would probably be his last opportunity to fly on one - especially with his family. What a flight!9:01 AM
There's one more still (occasionally) flying; I pass by it nearly every day on the way to work.
NASA's Kuiper astronomical observatory is built around...um...inside a C-141, with a sunroof cut in the fuselage to let the telescope look out. It's mostly just a way to get an infrared telescope up above most of the water vapor in the atmosphere.
Yeah, it's all just nit-picking, but still.
Great post on the Hanoi Taxi.