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".
|Quoting PanAm747 (Reply 4):
one of the plane in-flight, showing a leg sticking out of the left rear wheel-well - in flight!!
|Quoting Centrair (Reply 5):|
Last time this was discussed on this forum a few years back, someone had a link an actual video clip.
|Quoting Flyibaby (Reply 6):|
There was an awsome program on the history channel a couple of months ago about this.
|Quoting Dtwclipper (Reply 3):|
There also a movie the last commercial flight out.
I haven't seen it, but have seen clips.
|Quoting PanAm747 (Reply 4):|
.""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".
|Quoting AeroWesty (Reply 9):|
The actual CBS Evening News footage might be available elsewhere online, like at the Museum of Television and Radio.
|Quoting AirAmericaC46 (Reply 15):|
Anybody knows all other Vietnam evacuation flights? airline, type of aircraft, route flown and approximate date or month/year of the flight.
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