Falstaff From United States of America, joined Jun 2006, 6256 posts, RR: 30 Posted (8 years 8 months 2 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 13510 times:
I was recently reading the book "The Fall Of Saigon", by David Butler. There is a section in it where it talks about the last flight out of Da Nang. The plane involved was a World Airways 727. According to the book there was 280 passengers on board. A grenade exploded under the wing causing the flaps to get stuck down. It was also leaking fuel and had its landing gear stuck down. It took 2 hours to get to Saigon, instead of forty five minutes. When they landed there were a couple of bodies, in the under carriage, of stowaways. It is a hell of a story and I was wondering what became of the 727? Does anyone know and more about this.
AeroWesty From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 20822 posts, RR: 62
Reply 1, posted (8 years 8 months 2 weeks 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 13470 times:
This was part of Operation Babylift, and World Airways' Ed Daly was on the plane. I still recall watching the footage on the evening news. A poignant time. There are pics of the 727 and some background on the flight here:
PanAm747 From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 4242 posts, RR: 8
Reply 4, posted (8 years 8 months 2 weeks 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 13434 times:
I have a VERY old coffee-table book called "The Boeing 727 Scrapbook", by Len & Terry Morgan, published in 1978. There is a two-page section on this very incident - I quote from it pages 90-91:
Quote: It was an appalling tale from Vietnam that Walter Cronkite related on his CBS Evening News and there was a remarkable bit of film to illustrate the tragedy - soldiers chasing the slow moving airliner along the taxiway, trying to get aboard, scrambling up the rear stairs, into the cargo compartments and wheel wells, finally throwing grenades to stop the plane.
The plane was a World Airways 727-100 sent to Da Nang to help evacuate refugee women and children. Aboard was World Airways president Edward J. Daley, two reporters and cameraman. As the plane was loading, word wpread that enemy troops were approaching the field. Men of the crack South Vietnamese 1st Division, the Hac Bao (Black Panthers) made a dash for the airliner, shoving women and children aside in their panic. It was immediately apparent that the crowd was out of control so Daly told Capt. Kenneth Healy to take off. As engines were started, soldiers opened fire on the plane; a hand grenade was tossed under the wings in efforts to delay the departure, causing extensive damage to landing gear and flaps. As the plane gathered speed, frantic refugees and soldiers fought each other to get up the stairway with Daly pulling as many possible aboard.
Healy figures his ship was overloaded by 20,000 pounds. "We estimated there must hav been 360 people aboard a ship designed to carry 105. In the cabin there were 268 - this number we know for usre. The baggage compartments were loaded with people and there attempts to make the flight in the wheel wells and seven did get through that way to Saigon. Witness said bodies fell out but I can't say how many. I believe there were 80 to 90 in the lower compartments but an accurate count was not obtained as they unloaded before anyone thought to make a count."
"Some of the problems encountered were an aft stairway that remained partially extended for the entire flight and main wheels which would not retract. Pressurization was impossible so the flight was made at 10,000 feet. Fuel consumption was three times greater than normal and we landed at Saigon with little in the tanks. A grenade explosion removed two-thirds of the left inboard flap. I wholeheartedly praise the abilities of the 727 aircraft. It is a solid, dependable and completely honest aircraft".
There are three pictures - one of Captain Healy, one of the grenade damage to the wing & flaps, and one of the plane in-flight, showing a leg sticking out of the left rear wheel-well - in flight!!
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Flyibaby From United States of America, joined Aug 2004, 1018 posts, RR: 5
Reply 6, posted (8 years 8 months 2 weeks 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 13396 times:
There was an awsome program on the history channel a couple of months ago about this. It provided great footage from the cameramen they had on board and also went on to say that the 2nd 727 never landed, instead just circled overhead, while the other one was bombarded by fleeing soldiers.
RampRat74 From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 1579 posts, RR: 2
Reply 10, posted (8 years 8 months 2 weeks 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 13284 times:
On one of those Vietnam shows on the History Channel. They interviewed one of the guys from CBS or ABC that was on the plane. I think he was South African. He was telling a story how he had to punch and kick people off the rear stairs. While the plane was heading down the runway he kicked the last guy off the stairs. He said the guy waved to him while he was falling off the stairs.
Yeah, I saw it many moons back. It was alright for the most part (considering it was a "Made For TV Movie" and production values for MFTVMs are low at best). Needless to say when the L1011-500 showed up (a plane that would not come into existiance until 1979), well.....
Quoting PanAm747 (Reply 4): Quote:
.""Some of the problems encountered were an aft stairway that remained partially extended for the entire flight and main wheels which would not retract. Pressurization was impossible so the flight was made at 10,000 feet. Fuel consumption was three times greater than normal and we landed at Saigon with little in the tanks. A grenade explosion removed two-thirds of the left inboard flap. I wholeheartedly praise the abilities of the 727 aircraft. It is a solid, dependable and completely honest aircraft".
Yep, the 727 (like the 707 and 747) is a tough bird, Boeings rock!
JHSfan From Denmark, joined Apr 2004, 469 posts, RR: 2
Reply 12, posted (8 years 8 months 2 weeks 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 13109 times:
Quoting AeroWesty (Reply 9): The actual CBS Evening News footage might be available elsewhere online, like at the Museum of Television and Radio.
Go to CBS News Vet Bruce Dunning Retires and about one third now the page there is a link in the main text. A new window opens and then you have to be a bit patient because the loading process may take some time. Do not give up when you get an error message - just ignore it.
The video is commented by a CBS reporter.
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Clipper002 From United States of America, joined Aug 2004, 680 posts, RR: 13
Reply 14, posted (8 years 8 months 2 weeks 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 12950 times:
That was some bit of flying. It just epitomizes what Wolrd is all about. That airline is like no other in the world. I was lucky enough to finish out my career working for them for the past 12 years. I've never worked with so many dedicated individuals in my life. They are the backbone of that carrier. There is always a "can do" attitude among the crews, operations folks and maintenance and ops reps that I have never seen anywhere else. I was fortunate enough to be with Pan Am when they flew the last flight out of DaNang. Pretty impressive stuff.
AirAmericaC46 From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 590 posts, RR: 1
Reply 15, posted (8 years 8 months 2 weeks 1 day 3 hours ago) and read 12903 times:
Anybody knows all other Vietnam evacuation flights? airline, type of aircraft, route flown and approximate date or month/year of the flight.
Thanks for the data.
Of note: my father worked as an aircraft mechanic for Air America in Saigon and was on one of the last planes to fly out of Tan Son Nhut Airport. They used an Air America DC3 (C-47) and flew out when the Vietcongs started occupying the airport on the day Saigon fell. The plane was hit on the wings but miraculously flew out safely and followed the Mekong River on its way to Utapao, Thailand.
I would like to hear other evacuees, US military people, other Air America personnel on what flights they took to get out of Saigon.
Again, thanks for the data.