January 29, 1971

Things are picking up at Det One.  No scheduled pax runs--all combat essential frags.  Fourteen (!) additional crews rotated in from CCK yesterday.
A week earlier, we were mostly flying scheduled passenger runs between large airfields in Vietnam--crews couldn't even get enough short-field missions to complete needed check rides.  Suddenly there were many more crews and everyone was flying combat essential (high priority) missions into small aifields.  In this round-the-clock push we carried Vietnamese troops and equipment north for an invasion of Laos called Lam Son 719.   American GI's and routine cargo still needed to move between large airfields like Danang, Cam Ranh Bay, Tan Son Nhut, and Bien Hoa so Military Airlift Command brought in C-141's to help.

This day I flew two combat essential missions up to Quang Tri, 13 miles from the DMZ.  We delivered trucks and jeeps and trailers and Vietnamese troops who didn't even know their destination.  C-130 operations are all about bringing passengers and cargo into small airfields like Quang Tri, and that's when aircraft commanders are tested.  A few weeks earlier two C-130 instructor pilots from CCK went off the end of its 3500' runway.

My first approach was in daylight but the weather was bad.  Radar was unavailable so I shot an ADF non-precision approach.  We broke through the overcast and got the field in sight about 30 seconds before touchdown.  Piece of cake.

The second time we arrived at night--more challenging because there are fewer visual cues for a short-field landing.  And this time the Det One safety officer was riding along, looking over my shoulder.  We had to hold for 40 minutes over the Quang Tri ADF because the weather was still bad--low ceiling, low visibility, and drizzle.  At least the radar was back up, so I shot a GCA (ground controlled approach).  We broke out of the overcast at about 600' and I planted the airplane firmly onto the runway.

Nighttime, lousy weather, combat essential, short field, near the DMZ.  That's when AC's earn their pay.


Vietnam and Cambodia


Taiwan (CCK)



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