a @RotorGuy type post
On this day in aviation history: 45 years ago, Operation Babylift.
It was the end of the Vietnam War, and it was decided to evacuate nearly 2,000 orphan babies and take them to the US. The first flight was on a U.S. Air Force Lockheed C-5A Galaxy heavy lift transport, serial number 68-0218. The Captain is Bud Traynor:
Onboard is Lieutenant Regina Claire Aune, one of many medical staff who are onboard, as many of the 250 orphan babies onboard are sick/injured.
The aircraft took off with 328 people on board, including all Colonels and Medical Staff. The aircraft took off and climbed to 23,000 feet.
Unfortunately, a few minutes after takeoff, the locks on the rear loading ramp failed.
“Explosive decompression hurled people and equipment throughout the airplane which instantly filled with fog. Lieutenant Aune was thrown the entire length of the upper deck. The airplane was severely damaged with two hydraulic systems inoperative and many flight control cables severed.”
The pilots could only control the plane using engine thrust. They turned back to Tan Son Nhut immediately.
“Unable to maintain flight, at about 4:45 p.m., the Galaxy touched down in a rice paddy two miles short of the runway at 270 knots (500 kilometers per hour). It slid for a quarter mile, became airborne for another half mile, then touched down and slid until it hit a raised dike and broke into four sections. 138 people were killed in the crash.”
“Although herself seriously injured, Lieutenant Aune began evacuating the children. When rescue helicopters arrived, they were unable to land close to the wrecked transport, so the children had to be carried.
After she had helped to carry about eighty babies, Regina Aune was unable to continue. She asked the first officer she saw to be relieved of her duties and then passed out. At a hospital it was found that she had a broken foot, broken leg and broken vertebra in her back, as well as numerous other injuries.”
Regina Aune was the first woman in the USAF to be awarded the Cheney Award.
Read about it: