December 4, 1970

Whatever else, it's the GI's inalienable right to complain.

It was the last day of my in-country shuttle and my airplane had been given the 67/2 configuration--67 passenger seats and 2 baggage pallets.  It was a bad configuration for Vietnam because passengers brought little baggage and really only one baggage pallet was needed.  67/2 also packed the passengers more tightly together, eliminated rear ladders for passenger entry, moved the center of gravity too far forward, and reduced our capacity to 67 pax.  Departing Tan Son Nhut our pax were Vietnamese and it took a half hour to explain that we were going to take only 67 of their 70 troops to Cam Ranh Bay.

 At Cam Ranh Bay, passenger service couldn't find our scheduled passengers for Bien Hoa (!), so they gave us some space-available pax whose destination was Tan Son Nhut.  Our onboard radar died as we taxied out, so we taxied back in to get it fixed.  While the radar man began his work, pax service found our scheduled troops!  They were packed in like sardines and it was so uncomfortable that after an hour two passengers got off. Our radar wasn't fixable, so I checked the weather closely and decided to press on.

Departing Cam Ranh Bay IFR in the soup, departure control told us we had traffic at 12 o'clock, 2 miles, and converging.  Then he said he couldn't vector us clear because we had not yet reached his minimum vectoring altitude!  We were on course for a mid-air collision, needed a little advice on which way to turn, and his rule book said not to give any!!  So I made a sharp 45-degree-bank turn and hoped for the best.  I evaded the traffic, the controller, and the artillery, and climbed up to 14,000' to be above the weather.  Then the air conditioning crapped out, so we swam in our sweat for a while.

Descending into Bien Hoa there was more artillery to avoid and more bad weather.  The copilot saw some perimeter lights and told approach control that we had the field in sight.  To approach control that meant we were in visual conditions and didn't need their services anymore, so they handed us off to the tower.  Unfortunately the lights he saw were not Bien Hoa's so we didn't really have the field in sight.  I spiraled down, spotted Bien Hoa through a hole in the clouds and sneaked in underneath them.  But on base leg the overcast was too low to fly under.  To stay out of the clouds I had to turn onto final approach prematurely.  I cut the power to idle, but we still crossed the runway threshold hot and high.  Since Bien Hoa had a 10,000' runway, I landed 5,000' long with plenty of runway left over.  I think 5,000' long was my personal record.  ;-)


Vietnam and Cambodia


Taiwan (CCK)



Yahoo Search

Search this site
Search the web

Click to enlarge.