Planes that took GI's home from Vietnam were called "freedom
birds". Back in my C-141 days
were the freedom bird for a
plane-load of GI's leaving from Tan
. As we lifted off
the runway and I raised the gear handle we heard a loud rumble from the
rear of the airplane. We wondered if there was a landing gear
problem, but the indicators looked OK. The AC asked the
loadmaster if he could see anything wrong. The loadmaster
reported back that the sound was OK--it was a plane-load of GI's
stamping their feet with joy!
C-130 crews were also glad to leave Vietnam, even though we knew we'd
be back. I was busy using the rudder pedals so I never stamped my
feet. This particular day we lifted off as usual, I called for
as usual, and the copilot
raised the gear handle
usual. But the
nose gear didn't make its usual comforting clunk. And the nose
gear indicator light stayed on. Uh
The first thing I wanted to know was whether that nose gear was part
way up. If it was all the way down, we could
land normally, otherwise we were in trouble. So we put the gear
handle back down and all three green lights came
on. "Three in the green" meant that all three gears were
down and locked--good!
I wasn't about to fly to CCK with the gear down or press my luck
raising it again. So I broke off the departure and made a VFR
landing to see what was wrong with the nose gear. I parked the
airplane and left the
The flight engineer (who shall remain unnamed) climbed out the crew
door to examine the nose
gear. He returned to the flight deck looking sheepish and holding
. Can you
was and who bought the beer that night?
May 27, 1971
It took us about 2 hours to fly from Tan
Nhut to Quang Tri
another 2 hours back. No fuel was available at Quang Tri, but
that was OK because we had over 5 hours of fuel onboard.
We were a few minutes from TSN when Saigon Tea called us. They
asked whether we
enough fuel to turn around and go to back up to Nha Trang, pick up a
load, and return to TSN (about a 3-hour round trip). We
didn't. Nha Trang often had no fuel available, but the load must
have been pretty important because they told us to go there
, so we could stop there
for fuel if
As we approached Cam Ranh Bay we asked their ALCE to find out whether
Trang had fuel available. They said yes, so we flew on and
descended into the traffic
Nha Trang ALCE called us to ask what cargo we had to offload.
told them that we were empty and that Saigon Tea had sent us to pick
up a load for Tan Son Nhut. ALCE replied that they had no load
for Tan Son Nhut. Saigon TEA had sent us on a 500-mile wild goose chase!
So I broke out
of the Nha Trang traffic pattern and headed back to Cam Ranh Bay
fuel (which by now was a bit low). Everybody (including me)
complained about slow service at Cam Ranh Bay so I was ready for a lot
of ramp time. But the fuel truck arrived before the props stopped
turning! And aerial port had a load ready for us before refueling
was complete! It was the best service I'd ever seen at CRB.
At the end of the day I wrote a complimentary mission report on service
at Cam Ranh Bay. I also wrote a mission report on Saigon Tea.