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9/22/2017 12:11:25 AM
Posted: 9/28/2005 7:01:07 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/28/2005 7:12:09 PM EDT by KA3B]
C-141 approaches historical conclusion as last flight nears


MCMURDO STATION, Antarctica -- In this 1997 photo, cargo is offloaded from a C-141B Starlifter from McChord Air Force Base, Wash., while parked on a runway of ice here. The cargo and passengers transported by C-141s as part of Operation Deep Freeze were flown from New Zealand to Antarctica in support of scientific research at McMurdo and the South Pole. (U.S. Air Force photo)

by Gene Vandeventer
Air Force Reserve Command Staff Historian

9/28/2005 - ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. (AFPN) -- Since its first flight Dec. 17, 1963, the C-141 Starlifter has enjoyed a prestigious history.

The last chapter of that history will be written in October when the Air Force's last C-141 unit, the 445th Airlift Wing at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, starts replacing its Starlifters with the C-5 Galaxy.

Over the years, C-141s have carried cargo, passengers and patients around the globe. Air Force reservists flew many of those missions, first in an associate-unit capacity, and later in a unit-equipped role.

In 1987, the 459th Military Airlift Wing at Andrews AFB, Md., was the first Air Force Reserve Command unit to receive C-141s. The 445th AW became the second Reserve wing equipped with C-141s in October 1994.

The Reserve's 34th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron flew C-141 aeromedical missions in May 1968 when it was recalled to active duty to support combat forces in Vietnam. During the unit's 179-day activation, squadron reservists flew medical evacuation routes from Vietnam to the United States, participating in about 1,262 combat missions in Southeast Asia and 948 evacuation missions from Japan to the United States.

Overall, Military Airlift Command, in conjunction with the Air Force Reserve, evacuated more than 400,000 patients, including 168,000 battle casualties between 1965 and 1973, with a perfect flying record.

Operation Homecoming, the repatriation of American prisoners of war near the end of the Vietnam War, witnessed once again C-141 aeromedical evacuation missions. Between Feb. 12, 1973, and April 4, 1973, Air Force Reserve aircrews, doctors, nurses and medical technicians participated in five Homecoming flights.

The first 40 American POWs to leave Hanoi's Gia Lam Airport were aboard a Starlifter (tail number 66-0177). That aircraft, dubbed the "Hanoi Taxi," now belongs to the 445th AW and features the plane's original white and gray paint scheme.

Between April 1975 and June 1975, Guard and Reserve C-5 and C-141 crews flew nearly 775 sorties, airlifting evacuees and refugees during Operation New Life, the Indochina refugee airlift. C-141s transported 949 Vietnamese orphans in 24 Operation Babylift missions beginning in April 4, 1975.

Most noteworthy during the 1990s were aeromedical evacuations performed by active duty and Reserve crews during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. From August 1990 to March 1991, the Starlifter, along with other airframes, combined to airlift 4,437 litter patients and more than 7,800 ambulatory ones on intertheater flights. Additionally, the aircraft participated in carrying 1,600 litter and 2,424 ambulatory patients in the intratheater arena.

In its role as a force provider, the Starlifter aided immeasurably in the delivery of war-fighting equipment and forces to the Persian Gulf. C-141s, along with other strategic airframes, flew more than 15,000 missions carrying more than 500,000 people and more than 500,000 tons of cargo during deployment and redeployment phases.

Throughout the years, the Starlifter underwent airframe modifications that improved performance and capability. By 1977, Lockheed began a government contract to stretch the C-141A aircraft, incorporating aerial refueling and other upgrades resulting in the redesignation, without serial number change, to the C-141B. In the 1990s, a portion of the C-141B fleet received glass cockpit upgrades, resulting in changing the name to C-141C.

Over the years, Air Force Reserve C-141 crews served as America's ambassadors, delivering food, clothing and medicine in crisis areas around the world. This assistance sometimes involved evacuating people to safety zones.

Those missions included:

-- Evacuating wounded Marines from Beirut, Lebanon, in 1983.

-- Providing medical relief to Armenia's earthquake victims in 1988.

-- Delivering medical supplies to Mongolia in 1991.

-- Offloading food and medicine to Somalia in Operations Provide Relief and Provide Hope in 1992.

-- Airlifting disaster relief items in Florida after Hurricane Andrew, in Hawaii after Typhoon Iniki and in Guam after Typhoon Omar in 1992.

-- Delivering humanitarian supplies to Bosnia (Operation Provide Promise) and to Rwanda (Operation Support Hope) in 1994.

-- Transporting support equipment to Oklahoma City, in response to the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah U.S. Federal Building in April 1995.

-- Delivering aviation and relief cargo to Guam after a Korean airlines crash in August 1997.

-- Airlifting supplies and personnel in response to the tsunami in Southeast Asia in January 2005.

-- Performing its last Operation Deep Freeze airlift support mission to McMurdo Research Station in Antarctica in February 2005.

-- Evacuating patients from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina slammed the Gulf Coast Aug. 29, 2005.

From Vietnam to present-day Iraq, Air Force Reserve C-141 crews have played a significant force-projection role. These airlifters were in Grenada in October 1983 for Operation Urgent Fury, Panama in 1989 for Operation Just Cause, Somalia in 1993 and 1994 for Operation Restore Hope. They were in Kosovo in 1999 for Operation Allied Force, the United States in 2001 for homeland defense in Operation Noble Eagle, Afghanistan in 2001 for Operation Enduring Freedom, Guantanamo Bay in Cuba during 2002 to deliver the first Taliban and al-Qaida detainees from Operation Enduring Freedom, and in Iraq in 2003 for Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The 445th AW is scheduled to fly its last C-141 mission in the spring of 2006. (Courtesy of AFRC News Service)
Link Posted: 9/28/2005 7:03:40 PM EDT
Weren't the first batch of Viet Nam POWs flown back to the US on Starlifters?

The -141 is a truly remarkable aircraft that has served well beyond its expected lifetime.
Link Posted: 9/28/2005 7:04:27 PM EDT
It will be missed!
Link Posted: 9/28/2005 7:05:45 PM EDT

Originally Posted By DzlBenz:
Weren't the first batch of Viet Nam POWs flown back to the US on Starlifters?

The -141 is a truly remarkable aircraft that has served well beyond its expected lifetime.



Yes!

It went to the USAF Museum at Wright-Pay I believe.
(Too lazy to look it up)
Link Posted: 9/28/2005 7:08:16 PM EDT

Originally Posted By KA3B:

Originally Posted By DzlBenz:
Weren't the first batch of Viet Nam POWs flown back to the US on Starlifters?

The -141 is a truly remarkable aircraft that has served well beyond its expected lifetime.



Yes!

It went to the USAF Museum at Wright-Pay I believe.
(Too lazy to look it up)

That's the image that's burned into my memory of the C-141. I remember seeing my Dad get teary-eyed when those guys came down the air stairs. The Starlifter will always be a symbol of freedom!
Link Posted: 9/28/2005 7:11:20 PM EDT
I see them flying all the time around here (next to Wright Patterson). It will cool to see C-5s but the 141s look pretty badass for a transport IMO.
Link Posted: 9/28/2005 7:11:43 PM EDT
Air Force Reservists Fly Last C-141 Mission to Combat Zone
Air Force News | By Maj. Ted Theopolos | September 27, 2005

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio - For the last time in its long career, a C-141 Starlifter aircraft flew military patients out of a war zone Sept. 26.

It was the end of a five-day mission to the Middle East for the airlift plane from the 445th Airlift Wing here. The aircraft first started airlifting the sick and wounded from combat zones more than 40 years ago in Southeast Asia.

The Starlifter took cargo to Europe before the aircraft’s historic last mission out of the Middle East in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Medics will continue their aeromedical role on other types of aircraft, such as the C-17A Globemaster III or C-5 Galaxy.

“Many of our missions aboard the C-141 were to Vietnam in the 60s and early 70s to carry patients and human remains back -- just as we do now,” said Chief Master Sgt. Richard Hays, the wing’s chief loadmaster.

“I will really miss the plane and the mission as I will be retiring with the airplane,” the chief said. “Since this is the only thing I’ve done for 36 years, it has been my life. I will miss it immeasurably.”

Wing reservists began flying C-141 aeromedical evacuation missions in support of the Global War on Terrorism more than two-and-a-half years ago. In the beginning, the aircraft flew an average of six to seven times a week.

To keep up the pace, the 459th Airlift Wing from Andrews Air Force Base, Md., and the 452nd Air Mobility Wing from March Air Reserve Base, Calif., joined the fray with their C-141s. However, two years ago the Andrews AFB unit converted to KC-135 tankers. By the end of last year, the March ARC unit was down to a handful of C-141s in preparation for receiving C-17s.

The 445th AW is the last C-141 operational wing in the Air Force and it is converting to C-5s. The first of 11 C-5 Galaxy aircraft will arrive Oct. 3 -- three days after the last C-141 OIF mission is scheduled to land back at Wright-Patterson.

“I’m looking forward to flying a larger aircraft,” said 1st Lt. Eric Palichat, a 356th Airlift Squadron pilot. The lieutenant was activated in February 2004 and has flown into Iraq more than 30 times on aeromedical missions.

“We’ll miss the C-141, but I’m looking forward to flying missions on the C-5,” he added. “I just wish we were getting more of them.”

Since 2002, C-141s have flown more than 2,000 combat sorties and moved more than 70 million pounds of war-fighting material.

More importantly the aircraft have transported more than 70 percent of the sick, injured or wounded out of the Middle East. The 445th AW has been flying these missions four times a week for the past year. Reservists supporting this life-saving mission from aircrews to maintenance, aerial port and life support members will deactivate soon after the last OIF mission. A few will then be activated to support other aircraft types.

After Sept. 30, wing aircrews will continue flying C-141s, mostly inside the borders of the continental United States, until spring of 2006 when the last C-141 will fly out of the Air Force inventory and into aviation history books.

“The C-141 has proven its aeromedical evacuation role through the test of time,” said Tech. Sgt. Larry Davis, an 445th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron aeromedical technician.

“We’ll be training primarily on C-130s now,” he said. “Good aircraft but they don’t hold as many patients as a C-141. The C-17 will be more comfortable for the patients, but it will have to prove itself.
Link Posted: 9/28/2005 7:16:32 PM EDT
It will be sad to see them go. But their time has passed. I seem to recall that a lot of the 141's were under load restrictions cause of concerns about stress problems and cracking in the wings.

Just wish we would buy enough C-17s to truely replace them 1 for 1.
Link Posted: 9/28/2005 7:56:47 PM EDT
My grampa will be sad. He served for 36 years, starting out as a mechanic and reitiring a Lt. Col. in command of a squadron. 141s were his favorite.
Link Posted: 9/28/2005 8:00:08 PM EDT
My first 4 jumps at Jump School were out of the C141.
Number 5 was the C123.

The Starlifter was nice to go jump out of.
You really didn't jump; you merely walked out of the door.
And it was much quieter than the C123 to boot.
Link Posted: 9/28/2005 8:04:40 PM EDT
Great, we're retiring an aircraft without buying enough to replace it and our force continues to shrink. Great....
Link Posted: 9/28/2005 8:08:00 PM EDT
Link Posted: 9/28/2005 8:12:16 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/28/2005 8:18:26 PM EDT by Carbine_Man]

Originally Posted By Armed_Scientist:
Great, we're retiring an aircraft without buying enough to replace it and our force continues to shrink. Great....

It's called the C17.



Link Posted: 9/28/2005 8:30:18 PM EDT
My first and best jump was out of an 141. Good bird
Link Posted: 9/28/2005 9:17:58 PM EDT
My brother spent most of his career as a C-141 mechanic. Now, they've got him working on Herks.
Link Posted: 9/28/2005 9:25:11 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/28/2005 9:28:18 PM EDT by Da_Bunny]
C-141B Inventory: Active force, 241; ANG, 16; Reserve, 12 - 68,000 pounds of cargo
C-17 Inventory: Approx 120 - 170,900 pounds of cargo
Link Posted: 9/28/2005 9:26:45 PM EDT
A proud plane with a great legacy! She will be missed
Link Posted: 9/28/2005 10:46:34 PM EDT
69-636 was mine for several years. Never missed a mission.
Link Posted: 9/29/2005 12:54:53 AM EDT
My favorite jumps were outta a 141...................................

<­BR>

until the C17 came along.
Link Posted: 9/29/2005 4:17:22 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Armed_Scientist:
Great, we're retiring an aircraft without buying enough to replace it and our force continues to shrink. Great....



It's time.

IIRC, 1961 was the first production year. I was a Crew Chief on a '65 model (59409). I have about 8 years on them, with 2 as a flight engineer.

The taxpayers got their money's worth out of the Starlifter (aka Porkus Subsonicus). It flew longer than it was intended to, and adapted to missions it wasn't originally designed for (SOLL, AR).

However, these airframes are old and worn. There have been wing cracks and other structural problems.

A year ago I was out in Tucson and saw C-141s sitting inside a fence along the road, waiting to be turned into beer cans. Pretty sad. But it is time to retire them and bring in the next generation. The C-17 is THE most capable airlifter in the world. Nothing can directly compete with it.
Link Posted: 9/29/2005 10:34:49 PM EDT
I think 409 was at McChord AFB while I was there 68-72. Were you Brohawk?
Link Posted: 9/29/2005 10:38:35 PM EDT
Sad, but not a second too soon. Those old birds are falling apart. Much like the rest of the Heavy lift and refueling wings....
Link Posted: 9/30/2005 10:48:30 AM EDT

Originally Posted By CFII:
Sad, but not a second too soon. Those old birds are falling apart. Much like the rest of the Heavy lift and refueling wings....



Kind of makes you wonder how the military was able to afford all the big ticket items in the 60's and 70's. Hell they bought something like 600 B-52s over a 10 year period and don't forget the 600 or so KC-135s that went with them...

Spooky
Link Posted: 9/30/2005 11:32:05 AM EDT
A truly fine aircraft that will be sorely missed...even if it was a "swept-wing, T-tailed, bug-sucking mountain magnet".

The Ol' (C-130) Crew Chief

All You Herky Guys will appreciate this post!
Link Posted: 9/30/2005 11:45:32 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Spooky130:

Originally Posted By CFII:
Sad, but not a second too soon. Those old birds are falling apart. Much like the rest of the Heavy lift and refueling wings....



Kind of makes you wonder how the military was able to afford all the big ticket items in the 60's and 70's. Hell they bought something like 600 B-52s over a 10 year period and don't forget the 600 or so KC-135s that went with them...

Spooky



Easy. My jet cost $2.5 million in 1959 (or $16,129,032 in 2004 dollars). Compare that to the $138M for a KC-767 to replace it.
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