First, Last, and Significant Events
Note: The following history and stories came from several organizations and individuals. c141heaven, 437th Airlift Wing History Office, 97th Air Mobility Wing History Office, The McChord Air Museum Foundation, Travis AFB Aviation Museum, Military Airlift Command Office of History, The Air Mobility Command Museum, Air Mobility Command Office of History, Lt Col Gary Baker, MAC DOV, MSgt Larry Giles, CMSgt Wim Wetzel, Maj Doug Cain, - - - credit list is in-progress.
First C-141 Aircraft Flight
17 December 1963: C-141, Serial number 61-2775, was the very first of 284 C-141A Starlifters ever built and had its maiden flight on 17 December 1963, the 60th Anniversary of the Wright Brothers' first flight.
This C-141A Starlifter spent its entire career as a test aircraft in numerous programs.
Also, this aircraft was the only known four-engine jet used to tow a glider.
The last program this C-141A model carried out was to test a new tension rope from NASA while towing a QF-106 in the air; the program was referred to as the Eclipse Project. The Loadmaster on this flight was MSgt Ken Drucker.
First MATS Pilot to Fly The C-141 Starlifter
C-141 Starlifters First Operational Squadron
First Student to Graduate From C-141 TTU
Dec. 29, 1964: Capt David W. Coville, a C-135 pilot from the 40th ATS, was the first to complete the pilot C-141 formal training course in the 1741st ATS at Tinker, AFB, OK. Capt Coville would remain at Tinker in the 1741st and train other pilots on the C-141 Starlifte.
First C-141 Round Trip to Hawaii
6 February 1965: Lt Col Ralph I. Leslie and his crew of the Air Force Flight Test Center C-141 Joint Test Force returned to Edwards AFB CA after a 5,200-mile non-stop, round-trip flight to Honolulu, Hawaii.
Travis First Assigned C-141
23 April 1965: The first Lockheed C–141 Starlifter for a line operational unit was delivered to Travis Air Force Base, California, and would be flown by the 44th Air Transport Squadron, a unit of the 1501st Air Transport Wing. Capable of crossing any ocean non-stop at more than 500 miles per hour. The Starlifter could transport up to 70,000 pounds of payload, including 154 troops, 123 paratroopers, or a combination of troops and supplies.
FIRST LINE SQUADRON TO FLY THE C-141 STARLIFTER
The 44th Air Transport Squadron (ATS), 1501st Air Transport Wing, Travis Air Force Base, California, was the first line squadron to fly the C-141.
On 23 April 1965: The 44th ATS flew the C-141A (tail number 63-8088 named “Golden Bear”) from the Lockheed factory in GA to Travis Air Force Base, CA. The first crew from the 44th to fly the C-141 was as follows: Lt Col Weldon D. Newquist, AC; Lt Col Vere Short, CP; Capt James M. Davis, Nav; CMSgt Daniel M. Lawson, FE; CMSgt William J. Malone, FE; MSgt Thomas P. O’Keefe, LM; TSgt Vernon N. Smith, LM. Gen. Howell M. Estes Jr., MATS Commander, was also part of the flight crew.
May 25 to 31, 1965: The 44th flying C-141A, tail number 63-8088, crossed the Pacific Ocean when it flew from Travis to Yokota Air Base, Japan, in nine hours and twenty minutes. Aircraft 63-8088 was chosen along with five other C-141s to perform an unusually-heavy flying and landing schedule between June 1, 1965, and November 1, 1968.
Also, the 44th ATS was the first West Coast operational squadron to fly C-141s solely.
Charleston's First Assigned C-141
14 August 1965: C-141A StarLifter "The City of Charleston" 64-0624 was the first C-141 assigned to the 437th Military Airlift Wing at Charleston Air Force Base. Charleston was the third MATs base to receive the C-141. The 3rd Air Transport Squadron would fly the aircraft.
Dover's First Assigned C-141
2 June 1966: First C-141 Starlifter to arrive at Dover Air Force Base was 64-0626. The aircraft was retired at Dover AFB, DE, in Feb 1996 and became part of the Air Mobility Command Museum.
McChord's First Assigned C-141
August 9, 1966: A new era began for McChord AFB when the first Lockheed C-141A Starlifter 65-0277 arrived at the base and entered service with the 62d Military Airlift Wing’s 4th Military Airlift Squadron.
Norton's First Assigned C-141
1 Apr 1967: HQ Military Airlift Command (MAC) officially transferred the 63rd MAW from Robins AFB, GA, to its new home at Norton AFB, CA. This move also marked the wing's transition from the C-124 to the new C-141 "Starlifter" aircraft. Less than a week after arriving at Norton AFB, the first C-141 took off on its initial cargo airlift mission to Vietnam. During the Vietnam War, the wing flew around-the-clock missions supporting the US, and allied forces engaged in Southeast Asia. Col. Gary Underwood was the last commander of the C-141 wing at Norton AFB.
Norton AFB & 63rd MAW/AW was the home of the famous C-141 tail number 66-0177. This aircraft was the very first American aircraft to land at Gia Lam Airport, Hanoi, North Vietnam Feb. 12, 1973, to pick up prisoners of war. Because of that singular honor, the aircraft was dubbed the 'Hanoi Taxi.'
McGuire's First Assigned C-141
Aug. 8, 1967: The first C-141A (66-7947) for McGuire Air Force Base was Nicknamed "Garden State Airlifter." The aircraft is now on display at McGuire AFB as a static display. Starlifter 66-7947 was the last C-141 delivered by Lockheed to the Military Airlift Command (MAC).
C-141 First Landing in The Antarctic
C-141 Sets Trans-Pacific Speed Record
17 January 1967: A C-141 from the 44th Military Airlift Squadron at Travis AFB CA claimed a trans-Pacific speed record from Japan to the U. S. on a run of 8 hours and 17 minutes, covering a total of 5,400 miles, with speeds averaging 630 miles per hour.
Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron flew C-141
May 1968: 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.
Military Airlift Command and the Air Force Reserve evacuated more than 400,000 patients, including 168,000 battle casualties between 1965 and 1973, with a perfect flying record.
First C-141 Authorized Three Engine Takeoff
22 August 1968: First C-141 three Engine T/O, at Danang AB, RVN (additional information will be found on the Ground and in-flight emergencies tab)
C-141 Formal School Relocated From Tinker to Altus
18 April 1969: The first seven (of 19) C-141As arrived at Altus from Tinker AFB, Oklahoma, as part of MAC's movement of the 443d Military Airlift Wing and 57th Airlift Squadron.
C-141 Transports Moon Walkers
22 July 1969: An aircrew from the 14th MAS flew to Hickam AFB, HI, and transported the crew of the history-making Apollo 11 flight (the first men to walk on the moon) in the Mobile Quarantine Facility to Ellington AFB, TX.
C-141 Pilot Col Vere Short
29 July 1970: Col Vere Short, a C-141 pilot, attained 25,000 accident-free flying hours, the most military flying time by anyone on active duty.
C-141 Repatriates POWs
12 February 1973: C-141, 66-0177, the "Hanoi Taxi," airlifts the first American prisoners of war to freedom from Gia Lam Airport in Hanoi, North Vietnam.
C-141 and Operation New Life
27 April 1975: The first C-141 load of refugees from Viet Nam arrived at Norton AFB.
The YC-141B Aircraft 66-0186
8 January 1977: The first C-141B, 66-0186 (designated YC-141B), rolled out of the Lockheed Georgia Marietta plant. The aircraft was sent to Edwards AFB for approximately two years of extensive testing of the new aero refueling capabilities. Loadmasters for this testing program were MSgt Wim Wetzel and MSgt Al Capone.
First C-141 Female Crewmembers
September 1977: Two of the first ten women pilots in the Air Force began advanced pilot training in the C-141 aircraft. The first female pilot to graduate was 2nd Lt. Kathleen A. Rambo. The other pilot in the program was Capt. Kathy LeSauce. On Dec 9th, 1977, the first woman to complete the C-141 Pilot Initial Qualification course in the 57th Military Airlift Squadron was 2nd Lt. Kathleen A. Rambo, and her follow-on assignment was with the 732nd Airlift Squadron at McGuire AFB, NJ.
14 November 1977: Capt. Betty Jo Payne would become the first female Navigator to complete initial qualification training on the C-141.
SSgt Laurie Bailey was the first C-141 female Flight Engineer to graduate at Altus. After completion of training, SSgt Baily was assigned to the 41st Military Airlift Squadron at Charleston AFB, SC.
November 1977: SSgt Anne Wright was the first C-141 Loadmaster to graduate at Altus and had a follow-on assignment to McGuire AFB with the 6th Military Airlift Squadron.
First C-141 Over Water Flight Without Navigator
30 September 1977: A C-141 Starlifter from Charleston AFB flies across the Atlantic without a navigator being guided instead by a Delco Inertial Guidance System. This new technology leads to navigators being phased out of the C-141 system.
Crew members from the 41st MAS were; AC Capt John Motley, Copilot Lt Doug Cain, FE George Stewart, FE Jerry Kovaleski, LM unknown.
Altus AFB Received the First Operational C-141B
The first delivered C-141B to the Military Airlift Command (MAC) was 66-0176. On 4 Dec 1979, 66-0176 was flown to Charleston AFB from the Lockheed plant in Marietta Georgia. A Lockheed pilot was in the left seat, and the commander of MAC, General Robert E. Huyser in the right seat. Also, on this first flight of the C-141B was Major General Brown from the 22nd Air Force and 21st Air Force Commander Major General Tom Sadler.
The aircraft (66-0176 would remain at Charleston for approximately two weeks of operational test and evaluation (OT&E). It left Charleston on 21 December 1979 for delivery to the 443 MAW, and 57th MAS at Altus.
Source credit: 437th Airlift Wing History Office
First Female Pilot in Air Force to Command a C-141
8 January 1980: Capt. Kathy LaSauce-Arlington became the first female C-141 Aircraft Commander when she received her certification from the 63rd MAW's Review and Certification Board.
First C–141B Operational Refueling Flight
6 April 1980: The first operational refueling flight was by a 443d Military Airlift Wing, 57th Military Airlift Squadron 11-man aircrew. The crew flew nonstop from Beale Air Force Base, California, to Royal Air Force Mildenhall in the United Kingdom on the C-141B aircraft 66-0186. The Starlifter was loaded with 38,800 pounds of cargo at Beale AFB, Calif. Over Minnesota and Wisconsin; the transport took on 47,500 lb. of fuel from a Strategic Air Command Boeing KC-135 tanker from the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot AFB, N. D.
C-141B Arrives at Travis Airforce Base, CA
11 April 1980: The first C-141B assigned to an operational wing in Military Airlift Command arrived at Travis, sporting the new gray and green "Lizard" camouflage scheme more suitable for combat operations. After delivery, the Starlifter on Apr. 18 flew its first mission across the Pacific.
This first Travis C-141B aircraft was delivered to the 60th Military Airlift Wing by Col. William E. Overacker, commander of Military Airlift-Travis. Overacker said the longer aircraft handles better than the unmodified version, and the only transition training required for pilots is about 25 minutes of flight and one landing. He said some ground school would be required for loadmasters because of the C-141B's different center of gravity.
First Non-Stop Air Refueled CONUS-Germany-CONUS C-14lB Airdrop Mission
First All-Female C-141 Crew
9 May 1983: A C-141 crew from the 18th Military Airlift Squadron, McGuire AFB, N.J., becomes USAF’s first all-female crew to fly a round-trip mission across the Atlantic. They flew a C-141B from McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey, to Lajes Field in the Azores, completing the flight at Rhein-Main Air Force Base, Germany.
Capt Guiliana Sangiorgio, Aircraft commander; Capt Barbara G. Akin, pilot; 1stLt Terri A. Olinger, copilot; TSgt Donna L. Wertz, flight engineer; SSgt Denise J. Meunier, flight engineer; Sgt Mary K. Eiche, loadmaster; and A1C Bernadette C. Botti, loadmaster.
First ANG Unit to Convert to The C-141 StarLifter
12 July 1986: Gen. Duane H. Cassidy, commander of the Military Airlift Command, piloted the Air Guard’s first C-141B Starlifter to Allen C. Thompson Field, Mississippi, where he turned the aircraft over to Governor Bill Allain for use by the 183rd Military Airlift Squadron. The latter organization was the first ANG unit to convert to the StarLifter.
First Air Force Reserve Unit to be Equipped With its Personal C-141s.
July 1986: The 459th Military Airlift Wing at Andrews AFB, Md., converted to the Lockheed C-141B Starlifter aircraft and became the first Air Force Reserve unit equipped with its personal C-141s.
First C-141 Aircraft to Support Operation Desert Shield
Last C-141 Departs Norton AFB
30 June 1993: The final C-141Bs transferred to the 445 AW (USAF Reserves) on 30 Jun 1993. On 1 Jul 1993, HQ Air Mobility Command redesignated the 63rd Airlift Wing as HQ 63rd AW. That day also marked the first time since its original activation that the wing owned no aircraft.
First C-141C Delivered to the 452nd Air Mobility Wing
31 October 1997: The first of 64 modified C-141B's rolled out as a C-141C model during a ceremony on 31 October 1997. Maj. Gen. James E. Sherrard III, AFRC vice commander, accepted the aircraft from Maj. Gen. Rondal H. Smith, Warner Robins Air Logistics Center commander. The aircraft belonged to the Reserve's 452nd Air Mobility Wing, March Air Reserve Base, CA. The 452nd Air Mobility Wing, March Air Reserve Base, Calif., is the first active or Reserve unit to receive the C-141C "glass cockpit" modified Starlifter.
Last C-141 Departs Travis AFB
16 December 1997: Last operational C-141 would depart Travis AFB on Dec. 16th, 1997, for McGuire AFB, NJ. The last squadron to fly the C-141 at Travis was the 20th Airlift Squadron.
15 July 2000: The end of an era arrived with a ceremony to commemorate the farewell of the C-141 presence and to close the 16th Airlift Squadron, the sole remaining C-141 flying squadron at Joint Base Charleston.
Last C-141 Departs Altus AFB
30 July 2001: The last C-141 was flown to Davis Monthan by 97 AMW wing Commander Brig Gen Quentin Peterson. C-141 Starlifter 66-0206 departed on 30 July 2001.
C-141 Formal School Reopens Under Air Reserve Command
January 2002: The opening day for Air Force Reserve Command's C-141 Starlifter schoolhouse at Wright-Patterson AFB, OH. The school, officially called the C-141C Formal Training Unit, welcomed Reserve pilots, flight engineers, and loadmasters from Wright-Patterson, Andrews AFB, MD, and March Air Reserve Base, CA. The school is the only one of its kind in the Air Force. The C-141 schoolhouse at Altus AFB, Okla., during the summer of 2001. At this point in time, the 305th Air Mobility Wing at McGuire AFB, N.J., was the only active duty unit that still used the C-141. Reserve components were flying about 100 C-141s, and Air National Guard units in Memphis, Tenn., and Jackson, Miss., were still hauling troops and cargo on C141s.
9 April 2002: Thirty-six years of C-141 history at McChord ended when its last StarLifter, tail # 65-0267, lifted off on the final flight into retirement in the sun of Arizona. A McChord crew headed by Col. Paul J. Selva, 62d Airlift Wing Commander, Col. Thomas M. Gisler Jr., 446th Airlift Wing Commander, and Col. Michael Strouse, 62d Operations Group Commander, flew the aircraft to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.
Last Airdrop of Paratroopers From a C–141 Starlifter
13 May 2004: The final C-141 airdrop of paratroopers took place at Fort Benning, Ga. Army Private Jason Stewart, a native of Chandler, Ariz., became the last paratrooper to jump from a C-141, when he jumped from C-141C (No. 65-0229) of the 452 AMW (AFRC) at March ARB, Calif.
Last Around-The-World Flight by An Active Duty C–141
19 August 2004: Twelve crew members departed McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey, aboard a C–141B Starlifter on the last around-the-world flight by an active duty C–141. The specially selected crew included eight members of the 6th Airlift Squadron and four flying crew chiefs from the 305th Maintenance Squadron. All were seasoned veterans of the C–141. They had more than 59,000 hours of flying time in C–141s.
Last C-141 Departs McGuire AFB
16 September 2004: The last active-duty C–141B Starlifter (64-0633 ) assigned to the U.S. Air Force flew its final mission after a departure ceremony at McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey, home of the 305th Air Mobility Wing. The aircraft commander for this final flight of the active duty C-141 was Lt. Gen. William Welser III, 18th Air Force commander; co-pilot Lt. Col. Eric Wydra, 6th Airlift Squadron commander, and flight engineer Senior Master Sgt. Thomas Kenny.
The 6th Airlift Squadron, the last active duty C-141 squadron, flew from McGuire to the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona. The C–141 Starlifter was the first U.S.-manufactured jet aircraft designed specifically for military airlift. It was the second all-jet transport aircraft assigned to the Military Airlift Command, the C–135 being the first.
C-141 Schoolhouse Closes at Wright-Patterson
Last C-141 to Antarctica
4 February 2005: A C–141C assigned to the 452d Air Mobility Wing at March Air Reserve Base, California, flew the last scheduled C–141 Starlifter mission to the Pegasus runway near the McMurdo Research Station in Antarctica. For 39 years, as part of Operation Deep Freeze, C–141s had delivered personnel and equipment to Antarctica to support the National Science Foundation's research activities there.
Last Combat Mission Flown by The C-141
30 September 2005: The final mission was flown by a C–141 Starlifter to a combat zone ended when a Starlifter assigned to the 445th Airlift Wing at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, landed at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. The C–141C flown by Lt Col Timothy W. Baldwin was returning from Balad Air Base, Iraq, with 24 litter patients, 23 ambulatory patients, and three attendees. It had taken cargo to Europe before making its historic last flight to the U.S. Central Command’s theater of operation in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. C-141s had begun airlifting sick and wounded from combat zones more than 40 years earlier in Southeast Asia.
The last Operational C–141 Starlifter Flight
6 May 2006: The last squadron to fly the C-141 was the 356th Airlift Squadron, a unit of the 445th Airlift Wing at Wright-Patterson AFB, OH. Fittingly, the last flying C-141 was tail number 66-0177, also the first American aircraft to land at Gia Lam Airport, Hanoi, North Vietnam, on February 12, 1973, to pick up prisoners of war. Because of that singular honor, it was dubbed the “Hanoi Taxi.”
The last operational C–141 Starlifter (66-0177), designated the Hanoi Taxi, and piloted by Col. James F. Blackman and Col. Benjamin Johnson, landed for the last time and was received in a formal retirement ceremony at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton. The landing concluded 42 years of Starlifter operations in the active-duty Air Force, the Air National Guard, and the Air Force Reserve Command. On May 5, the “Hanoi Taxi” made two final passenger flights in the Dayton, Ohio, area with 125 former POWs aboard. Secretary of the Air Force Michael W. Wynne was a passenger on the first flight. His brother, an F–4 pilot, had been killed in North Vietnam in 1966.