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C141Heaven: 2007 Blog

Friday, March 9, 2007 04:01 pm

New T‑Tail Tall Tale: Your Ride is Here

Al Brewer submitted a nice story about an early morning local training mission at Travis back in the early '70s.

Friday, March 9, 2007 03:58 pm

More on Mr. Ed

Tim Bernal sent in a few additional comments about the Mr. Ed incident.

Thursday, March 8, 2007 05:05 pm

eBay Hits me Again

My wife simply does not understand what it is about the C‑141 that makes me go "ga ga". I've tried and tried to explain it to her, and even dragged her to Dayton to see the final flight of the Hanoi Taxi last May. She almost understood and even cried a sincere tear with me when 60177 made that final landing at the AF Museum.

When I started buying parts of C‑141s from various sources (mostly eBay) she found the will to call me crazy to my face, and promptly went shopping for shoes and jewelry and other girlie stuff. She just doesn't get it, but has promised to match me dollar for dollar in foolish spending. I've picked up some panels from the cockpit, a complete pilot's control column and yoke, some fuel flow and ERP and RPM gauges, some radio control heads. She calls this JUNK!

I'm sure you will agree: What a b***h she must be!

To make matters worse, she's outspent me so far by HUNDREDS of dollars. I've got the credit card statements to prove it.

So last week I noticed a nice little item for $1.99 offered by a guy up near McChord which he came into possession of somehow. ... maybe a surplus auction or perhaps he was a C‑141 mechanic himself in prior years and needed some scratch paper. Offered for sale was a complete set of "wiring diagrams':

3 inches (and 3 pounds) of Genuine US Government Surplus
Likely Original Acquisition Cost: $350,496.32 (plus shipping, binder not included.)

I had seen this item up for sale in his listings quite a while ago and intended to bid on it .. and missed the deadline ... the item never showed up again until last week...so I pounced on it as soon as I could and for $1.99 I got the all the papers. They are a bit out of date (November 76) so I guess if I get a C‑141 down here at Davis‑Monthan for $10 or so, I'll have to get some updated diagrams from somewhere.

>When I was a kid I used to tinker with electronic gadgets and made more than my share of Heathkit radios and stereo gear. We lived in the San Fernando Valley north of LA and I used to trek up to Port Hueneme (about 50 miles north on 101) on the first Saturday of each month for some "surplus sales" they held there at the Navy Supply Depot. I'd buy old Navy electronic junk (it was all painted gray) and take it apart. Lot's of fun. I got to where I actually could read a wiring diagram with some competence. For example, the image below:

That little arrow on the left means the wire connects to somewhere else, and runs along to somewhere else. EASY! And if Al Queda had this diagram (I've blocked access to the site from all Al Queda browsers) they could AIR CONDITION THE ENTIRE DESERT! Nobody would need to fight anymore.

Here's another one:

Now you don't have to be Kelly Johnson (Mr Lockheed!) or Bill Gates to know, you just get some AC juice from the BUS, run it through a switch, to the light, and ground it. Let there be LIGHT!

So, here's one that's TWICE as hard to figure out:

But being technical like I am, it's the same simple DaVinci Code to DeCode. Two Switches...two lights. This stuff is child's play. It's a wonder Lockheed could have charged so much for such simple circuitry, don't you think?

Ok, so let's follow on to something that might be just a tad bit more complicated: The control circuitry for the cargo doors. Seems simple enough. A switch here and there, an indicator light to tell you "open', and some juice to open a solenoid or two and to run some hydraulic pumps. How hard could that be?

Now folks, that's just one three page fold‑out spread of the wiring. Note the little arrows on the right side of the last one. Interpretation: It goes on to another three page spread, then another!

Just like Microsoft Windows, it's a wonder any of this stuff ever worked. Now we must remember this was designed 40+ years ago. Today you could probably design it so you could open the cargo doors with a universal remote control gizmo you could by at Walmart for $10 or so.

If you have a favorite "C‑141 Circuit" and would like me to publish it here on C‑141 Heaven, please let me know. Personally, my favorite was the one that controlled the lights. You could turn them off to "snooze while you cruise'. And I understood that one if some @#%@ flight examiner ever asked about it (but I'm not sure where those switches actually were.)

Tuesday, March 6, 2007 10:09 am

Mail Call ‑‑‑ Updated Schedule

Set your TIVO or VCR !

Straight From the History Channel web site:

Host Gunnery Sergeant R. Lee Ermey is on location at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at historic Wright‑Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.

First, Lee tours the museum and he reveals the fascinating story (and rare footage) of the highest bailout in history from an American aircraft.

Then he tells the history of the Lockheed Starlifter, the Vietnam‑era cargo plane made famous when one was designated "The Hanoi Taxi". Lee also attends a reunion of the surviving POWs who flew on the Hanoi Taxi

Then, he reveals the truth about UFOs and the Air Force's top secret Project Bluebook. Finally, Lee gets to take the controls for some real stick time in a vintage B‑25 Mitchell Bomber.

Thanks to David Ames for checking and re‑checking the History Channel web site until this info surfaced.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007 10:01 am

Used C‑17's?

Now why didn't they think of this when there were still some C‑141s around?

The news paper article below was a bit overly‑optimistic. Another press release by Global Heavylift Holdings a few days later was a little more tame as to their financial backing.

Thursday, March 1, 2007 11:42 am

Added Information On Sondrestrom and Olympic Mountain Crashes

Al Brewer has submitted some additional comments on the crash involving 67‑0008 at Sondrestrom in 1976.

In addition, Al has provided some thoughtful comments on the topic of the crew duty day. These were added to the page on 64‑0641, near the bottom of the page. This accident had some elements of crew fatigue behind it and the page already had a few comments about the crew duty day topic, so that's why I put his comments there.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

New Story about Wake Island and "Operation New Life"

Bruce Hoon, a former base commander at Wake Island, has sent in a story about his time on Wake Island during the relocation of thousands of Vietnamese refugees from SEA to the US. Click Here to read it.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Norton Area Coffee Klatch

Scott Kinkennon (from Edwards AFB) sent this copy of information about a group of C‑141 folks in the Norton/March area who get together from time to time for some hangar flying and "good ol days" story telling.

Michel Nolan, Staff Writer
San Bernardino County Sun

Article Launched:02/08/2007 12:00:00 AM PST

If you stop for breakfast at the Airport Express Cafe on the first Tuesday of any month, you'll hear the stories fly fast and furious as any mortar fire.

Veterans of the 63rd Military Airlift Wing gather monthly at the San Bernardino eatery to swap anecdotes, razz each other, laugh and commiserate.

Heroes all ‑ they smile and talk over coffee and cheese omelets.

For the nearly 50 members of the Breakfast Club, the camaraderie is a connection, Jack Reed will tell you.

A retired flight engineer, Reed, 74, served in the Air Force between 1951 and 1973.

"We're trying to condense 50 years of life into 30 minutes when we sit around telling stories," says the Yucaipa resident.

"Everybody likes to talk about what they did ‑ it was their proud moment," says Reed, who is also a retired San Bernardino County sheriff's deputy.

The veteran's group, which represents more than 150 years of combined flying experience was organized in 2005 by San Bernardino resident Ed Jeffries, a World War II flight engineer who served from 1945 to 1969 ‑ first in the Navy and then in the Air Force.

The 27 veterans who gathered for the Breakfast Club on Tuesday had more than 200,000 hours of flight time under their belts, according to Jeffries, who logged more than 16,000 hours of flying time.

"When I started the club, we had only three people, and it's grown to 47 of us in just two years," Jeffries says.

The group, however, lost one of its comrades ‑ Gil Thibedeau ‑ who died last month, Jeffries said.

The veterans, ages 40‑something to 90, served in wars as recent as Desert Storm and as far back as World War II.

"There are fewer and fewer of us World War II guys," says Jeffries, 79, as the tales of daring ricochet around the long table reserved for the group.

Model airplanes are suspended overhead. A restored wooden propeller from a PT‑19, a World War II trainer, hangs over the coffee machine. Photographs and posters line the walls.

The 63rd is at home here.

"Heck, we used to fly everything but the hangar door, and that was because we couldn't get it unhooked," Jeffries says.

Squadron commander Dan Rhem, who served in Vietnam in 1968 and flew in the Pacific from 1971 to 1973, says, "They don't think retired colonels know anything about flying ‑ but we do."

The Redlands resident, who now flies a Beechcraft Bonanza, reports he is also a licensed mechanic.

There are hundreds of stories, lots of different recollections, says retired navigator Jim Herrmann.

"We supplement each other's stories. Flying is hours and hours of sheer boredom, punctuated by stark terror," he said. "Norton, between 1965 and 1995, was all about the C‑141s Military Airlift Command."

Over the years, the veterans who served aboard the mighty cargo planes provided presidential support, as well as support for the Strategic Air Command, foreign embassies, rescue missions and NASA.

"It was a proud moment when we brought three of the Apollo astronauts back in the early "70s," Jack Reed says.

The cargo has included almost everything transportable ‑ from dolphins traveling to Da Nang for the Navy to use in underwater mine detection and torpedo recovery, to hundreds of evacuees from Pleiku, South Vietnam. From paratroopers to helicopters and ammunition ‑ even watermelons for the Marines.

Everyone here has had close calls ‑ they'll tell you ‑ engines that have gone out, emergency landings, a foiled hijacking, dodging mortar fire and explosions.

In one bizarre twist, they were taking troops to the 1968 presidential convention and were fired on by protesters when landing in Chicago, according to Jeffries.

"In Vietnam you expected it, but not Chicago," he says.

"There were lots of near misses, but we were just doing our job." RECONNECT

Any military or civilian personnel who were stationed at Norton Air Force Base in the 63rd invited to join the group. For more information, call Ed Jeffries at (909) 889‑1733 or e‑mail him at eajeffries909@aol.com.

Member List

The roster of the 63rd Veterans Group includes: Edward Jeffries, Frank Bushar, Bob Jackson, Jack Reed, Evert Marshall, Ray Lobato, Bill Shanley, Jim Evans, Al Drumm, Frank Long, Wally Bernhart, Bob Frey, Paul Pledger, Mat Gobin, Cash Kaschube, Martie Martinez, Bob Crowley, Dan Rhem, Jim Miller, Leo Lorenz, Scott Kinkennon, Wes Holley, Al Bradley, Joe Alston, Gerry Frechette, Frank Dolan, George Steffen, Kenny Karnes, Ray Akins, Tom Fogarty, Steve Collins, Terry Cabansag, Paul Minert, Marvin Gemar, Charles Kopp, Harry Sechrist, Terry Young, William Diamond, Herbert Blair, Paul Davis, John McCloskey, Joe Ward, Fred Riggs, Jim Herrmann, Paul Lara, Gonzalo Ramirez, Jesus Tizmado, Bill Henson and Rick Selvan.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

More on Mr. Ed versus the C‑141

Ed Diemer, a former 86th MAS Nav sent updated information regarding the Mr. Ed story. Click this link to read his story.

Thursday, February 8, 2007 12:36 pm

Boneyard Photos

I've redone the Boneyard Photos page and placed about 285 photos gathered from my hard drive on a set of new pages ... click here for a link to this page. You can then just click on the navigation buttons at the top of the page to move from photo to photo .. or click on any of the links at the bottom of the page to move to a specific photo.

Friday, February 2, 2007 10:02 am

Nice C‑141 Model

If you are looking for a model of a C‑141 check out Atlantic Models. They are expensive, but truly first class.

I got a note from them with the following information:

The first model will be the A model. We'll do it in 1/100 scale. It has a wing span of a little over 19 inches and 17.5 inches long. They are cast in polyurethane resin and are fully assembled. I have the art for the Hanoi Taxi in the A model configuration.

The B model will be available later with this same aircraft in its final paint scheme as it is displayed at the Wright‑Patterson AFB Museum. Our models come with a brushed aluminum upright, walnut wood base, and a metal plaque commemorating the "Taxi". We will retail the model for $280.00. Shipping in the continental US will be $14.00.

I want to offer the models to the Veterans, and folks that mention your site, for $230.00.

From a personal side, I wanted to tell you about my first encounter with a C‑141A. In 1965 my Dad was working for the US Dept of Commerce and we lived in Mexico City. My buddies and I would go to the Mexico City airport to watch airplanes, hang out in restaurants, etc. One day we saw a US Air Force C‑141 parked on the ramp. It was there to do high-altitude take-offs and landings. We saw the crew in the restaurant. One of them had the last name "Moore". We did not say anything to them, but we took off to the ramp security entrance. There we told the Mexican security that my buddy Mike Moore was there to see his "uncle" who was part of the crew of the plane. I can't remember if he checked a crew roster, but he waved us through and we went out to the plane. There were crew members on board and they gave us the "royal tour". It was love at first sight.

In 1972 I met General Williams of the USAF. He was on loan for an event called Transpo 72 at Dulles Airport in Virginia. He had a really nice model of the C‑141. I made such a fuss about it, he gave it to me. I still have it.

Lastly, as an aviation artist, I did a painting of an F‑105 Wild Weasel for a POW that used the "Taxi" to get out of Hanoi. His name was Wes Schierman. At 7 and a half years in the Hanoi Hilton, he was the second longest time of any other POW there. His wife told me that she met the plane and when every one was off, she still did not see Wes. In a few minutes, he came out with the flight crew. He had been upfront getting acquainted with flying the C‑141! He went back to his civilian job flying for Northwest Airlines.

Thanks for doing this site, it is a great tribute to not only the plane but to the great many men and women of the United States Air Force.

Roger Jarman
Atlantic Models
Miami, Florida
Tel: 305‑883‑2012

Wednesday, January 17, 2007 09:36 am

Very Nice Gift

Last year when the early plans for the Starlifter farewell event at Wright‑Patterson were being concocted I got some emails from the event planner, Major Steve Schnell. I put a bit of PR about the event on C141Heaven and links to their registration web site. Over the ensuing months Steve and his team worked countless hours to make the event a memorable one and all that planning paid off in spades.

It truly was a fantastic weekend and even my wife, having been dragged along for the trip from Tucson to Dayton, enjoyed every minute of it (mostly). We both used to work for NCR and spent some time in Dayton almost 30 years ago in various training classes and other business trips. It was a chance to revisit some old drinking hangouts and see a few old friends. This is always a dangerous thing to do since they (both the hangouts and friends) tend to change in ways you don't expect, especially when given nearly 30 years of time to [d]evolve. One place that seemed exactly the same to us so many years later was the PINE CLUB, a great steak‑house you should not miss if you are in the Dayton area.

Steve was so busy during those last few days that he and I got to shake hands once and that was that. For the past few months he's been at Altus learning to fly the C‑5 and when he got back he sent me a note saying he had a little gift for me.

Having put as much time in on planning the huge retirement event as he did he got his just reward: He was blessed with the honor of being the pilot who flew the last mission from Wright‑Patterson to the AF Museum a few miles away on May 6th, 2006.

In appreciation for the extremely small bit I did in helping to promote the farewell event via C141Heaven Steve graciously mailed me this special souvenir coin they had made up and sold at the big event. He had a few specially engraved with the date of the last C‑141 mission every and carried them along on that last flight. It arrived in yesterday's mail and here's what it looks like:

I had managed to connect with another crew member prior to the last flight and gave him a small envelop of other mementos from my days flying in the AF and flying the C‑141. This included the first set of wings I pinned on after completing pilot training (in 1973), my old MAC and 8th MAS patches, a name tag, and so on. These now sit, along with the newly added coin in a little shadow box display I made up after returning from the Starlifter Farewell bash last spring. I treasure these items more than I would a bit of moon‑rock.

There was a huge demand for these coins and there COULD be plans brewing to make another batch of them which MAY become available in the next few months. If anything develops on this front I will post information here as soon as I find out anything. In the mean time, please don't bug Steve about them as he doesn't have any.

Here's the text of an article written by Steven Schnell, who made the last landing in the C‑141. It originally appeared in the Lockheed CodeOne magazine but is not available online any longer. They seem to have foregotten completely about the C‑141 on their site.

From The Cockpit: The Final Flight Of The C‑141
By Maj. Stephen A. Schnell

Even under normal circumstances, most aircrews are not thrilled with an 0615 brief time. This morning was no different in that respect. What did make this briefing and subsequent flight stimulating was the realization that today, 6 May, we would be a part of history.

On Friday evening, a retirement party was held for 66‑0177 and all the other 284 T‑tails that served so gallantly for so long. It was a warm goodbye to the Starlifter from more than 1,100 former aircrew members and a couple of hundred others for whom the Starlifter was an important part of their lives. On Saturday morning, though, it was time to make this bird operational for the last time.

The expanded crew of thirteen went through the same standard brief crew members have come to memorize and expect. All aspects of the flight, including CRM, emergencies, and who?s the NCOIC were discussed. One slight addition was simply, "oh, by the way, the four‑star AMC commander and three‑star AFRC commander will be on board today." Besides this slight blood pressure elevator, the briefing went off normal‑normal.

Finding the airfield identifier for a closed runway was a challenge that had base ops and the crew stumped. We decided to enter FFO (Wright‑Patterson's identifier) and sort it out with tower later. Either way, at 0930 we were landing on the 7,000‑foot, black asphalt runway that had lots of yellow X's on it behind the National Museum of the United States Air Force.

A small amount of fanfare greeted the crew as they walked to the aircraft. Nearly 1,000 members of the 445th Airlift Wing, the last group to fly the Starlifter, gave one last salute to the C‑141.

Once inside, the crew got down to business. The flight engineers and loadmasters accomplished, as they always have, a thorough preflight. Then we began our avionics preflight in the cockpit. Once strapped into our seats, the aircraft commander, Lt. Col. Steve Johnson, the 89th Airlift Squadron commander, called for the Before Starting Engines checklist.

Reality began to set in at this point: This would be the last time this and each subsequent checklist would ever be read for this airplane. After forty‑three years, and countless thousands of engine starts, this was it. With the turn of each yellow page, it became clear that there would never be a need to turn it back. With great pride, I read every step through the Before Taxi checklist, and then closed the book.

Taxi out was unique, with two base fire trucks spraying 177 so heavily we could barely see the taxiway. Col. Johnson pushed the power up for takeoff and, as always, the four TF33‑P‑7s howled into action. We were so light (30,000 pounds of fuel and no cargo) that the plane leapt off the ground in just over 2,000 feet. Anyone who has flown the Starlifter knows how agile the plane is when it is light. Today was no different. We cycled Gen. Duncan McNabb and Lt. Gen. John Bradley in the pilot's seat and gave the Starlifter a few victory laps over its last official runway. The runway at the museum is only three miles from our home ramp, but it took us about forty‑five minutes to get there.

The runway behind the museum is on a heading of 090/270. By regulation, any aircraft using that runway must land to the east (090), regardless of the winds. On this day, the supervisor of flying was calling winds 340 at ten knots, a left‑quartering tail wind. (Author's note: This is where the pilot performing the landing begins to build his "Why the landing wasn't perfect" excuse.)

Because of the winds and the uniqueness of the landing, we flew a planned initial low approach. The approach, which went down to approximately 100 feet, fooled the nearly 2,000 people in attendance and caused at least one TV station to break away from regularly scheduled programming only to see the airplane power up and go around. It felt great to pull up into the closed pattern, with the crowd below, and have a sports car for a jet. Climbing to 1,000 feet above the crowd for a last downwind leg to landing was magnificent. Rolling off the perch, we were committed to the landing.

The aircraft touched down at 0928 on the right main gear (did I mention the squirrelly winds?), but it was a smooth landing. As the left main gear settled, and the thrust reversers and spoilers deployed, a huge cheer erupted on the flight deck. We were down safely, yet again, in a Starlifter.

As I began to return the thrust reversers to the Rev Idle position, I began to think of the tens of thousands of pilots and aircrew before me who had done this very same procedure. The last flight was nearly complete. We taxied close to the crowd and ran the Engine Shutdown checklist. As the pilot reached up and turned the switches to Off, we heard the familiar hum of the engines winding down to silence (and the scanner, no doubt, got to see the last four gallons of JP‑8 pour out the PND valve).

We had done it, and it was an honor to do it for so many others who had a role in this plane's overwhelming success. This aircraft has been a part of so many lives: To experience it shutting down, and then become eerily silent, was sad. The moment was equally filled with great pride. The Starlifter had a new home and a well‑deserved place in history.

Major Stephen Schnell is an Air Reserve technician and the chief of scheduling for the 89th Airlift Squadron, 445th Airlift Wing (AFRC) at Wright‑Patterson AFB, Ohio. In May, he was the last pilot to ever fly a C‑141. In December, he will complete C‑5 transition training.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Story from Airman Magazine, Sept 1974

Steve Long sent in a copy of an article from the September 1974 issue of Airman magazine about a MEDIVAC mission to Russia in which he participated as loadmaster on tail number 40629 (in the fall of 1973). Click here to read it.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007 07:18 pm

Lockheed "Farewell to the Starlifter" Video

Here's the link: Retirement Flight

Thursday, January 11, 2007 09:57 am

History Channel C‑141 Information

The History Channel's "Mail Call" program about the C‑141 and Hanoi Taxi that was filmed last May at Wright‑Patterson and the AF Museum is finally scheduled for showing. Like most of these shows, there will likely be lots of re‑runs.

Sunday, January 7, 2007 03:41 pm

Time for Dinner?

John Broughton submitted this story which he said he got from a old C‑141 Navigator:

A C‑141 pilot was driving down the road after a long flight
and saw a sign in front of a restaurant that read:


"Lord almighty," he said to himself.
"My three favorite things."

Sunday, January 7, 2007 03:41 pm

64‑0612 Graffiti Trail

For a story of graffiti action all over Europe involving tail number 64‑0612, click here .

Friday, January 5, 2007 11:01 am

Another Little C‑141 Mystery

If you have followed the C‑141 for any length of time you most certainly have seen the famous "flying into the sunset" photo. A few weeks ago I got a note from someone who said he was the pilot of the aircraft in the photo and that it was taken heading into a SUNRISE during a Space Shuttle support mission, possibly by a NASA photographer. Over the years I have received other notes from other pilots making similar claims about how they were the pilot.

Check out the three photos below:

Over the years I've looked at one or the other of these photos and always thought I was looking at just "one". In reality there are subtle differences between them. Two of the photos are noted as having been taken by someone named SIMONS and one by someone named BELCHER. SIMONS" photos are purported to have been taken on January 1st, 1983 "as it "prepares for an airdrop during Operation Deep Freeze". BELCHER's is purported to have been taken on January 1st, 1985 "just after takeoff".

They sure look like they were taken on the same flight, and by the same photographer to me...just seconds apart from the angles and light.

So our mystery is this:

Friday, January 5, 2007 09:46 am

Nice C‑17 Photo

Yeah, I know, this is a C‑141 web site, but we all have to face up to the fact that time marches on.

A few weeks ago I got a nice photo of the C‑141 replacement, which of course, will never last as long as the C‑141 did. They just don't build them like they used to. In a couple of years someone will create a C17Heaven but I want nothing to do with it.

NOTE: Sometimes the photos I receive from you C‑141 Nuts contain stray telephone lines or light poles that really distract from the beautiful lines of the C‑141.

I like to play around with Photoshop to see if I can clear away the clutter in these photos. In the case of the photo I got from one of you there are a couple of distracting elements in the photo but I just could not bring myself to delete them. They are easy to ignore if you are really into the "C‑17 experience", and it is a beautiful site indeed.

To see a very dramatic photo of this lumbering beast landing (not sure where exactly it was taken) just click here or anywhere on the picture below.

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