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Hanoi Taxi - The Last Starlifter by John Schneider
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Nikon D80, Nikkor AF-S DX ED 18-200mm VR lens at f6.3, 1/160sec, ISO 100, 20mm, July, 2007

On May 6, 2006, The USAF retired its last Lockheed C-141 Starlifter to the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.The decades of distinguished service performed by C-141s would have been enough to draw the attention of aviation enthusiasts around the world, but the retirement of this particular aircraft, serial number 66-0177, marked a major milestone in American history.

This aircraft had become world famous on February 12, 1973, as the first C-141 to land in North Vietnam to repatriate the American prisoners of war (POWs) as part of the peace settlemant for the Southeast Asia WAR. dIsplaying a large Red Cross on its tail to demonstrate the humanitarian mission it was flying, 66-0177 landed at Gia Lam Airport, Hanoi, as the first group of 40 POWs waited with no visible signs of emotion. Having vowed to show no emotion in front of their North Vietnamese captors, they quietly boarded the airplane and took their seats. As the wheels left the runway, however, the world inside the airplane erupted with a joyous cheer from the freed American servicemen, and this now famous aircraft turned towadr Clark Air Base in the Philippines on the flight that symbolized the end of the Southeast Asia War.

This aircraft flew two missions into Hanoi, carrying out 78 POWs and two civilian returnees to the Philippinrs, and for missions from the Philippines to the United States carrying 76 ex-POWs. Afterward, 66-0177 continued flying missions around the world, but the airplane would never be the same. Demonstrating its historical importance, the aircraft quickly became immortalized with a nickname: Hanoi Taxi.

Over the next three decades of service, the Hanoi Taxi flew more than 40,000 hours, and it underwent many changes. Originally built as a C-141A model, the fuselage was lengthened by 23.3 feet in the early 1980’s, USAF redesignated as a C-141B. Later, the wings were strengthened, and from 1997 to 2001, all C-141Bs were converted to C-141Cs by the addition of advanced avionics. In 2002, the Hanoi Taxi received its final programmed depot maintenance, and it was repainted as it appeared when it wnt to Hanoi in 1973 – except for the Red Cross. It flew in these markings for the next four years.

In May 2004, the Hanoi Taxi again tapped the timelines of history when Maj Gen Edward Mechenbier, himself a POW repatriated from Vietnam, flew it back to repatriate the remains of two American service members kille in action.

Much as the dedication of the Vietman Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC in 1982, marked a signpost for those American service members who died in the Southeast Asia War, the retirement of the HANOI TAXI at the National Museum of the US Air Force similarly marked the signpost for America’s prisoners of war and missing in action of that war…….
National Museum of the United States Air Force

*Featured: “Airplanes & Airports” – July 27, 2013

John has had a camera in front of his face for the better part of 60 years and will continue until he gets it right! Please respect the applicable domestic and international copyrights…. Enjoy, purchase or save if you like, but no publication, any media, without written permission.

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Comments

  • PineSinger
    PineSingerover 1 year ago

    Really nice write with this image…so informative!

  • Thank you, your very kind…. apprecited! Thank you for the favorite as well!

    – John Schneider

  • John Sharp
    John Sharpover 1 year ago

    Nice shot of a large plane with so much history. Great to read the detail. Bet it was really liked by those American Servicemen/women that got to enjoy that flight.

  • John, thank you so much for this very kind comment, appreciated!

    – John Schneider

  • Edward Denyer
    Edward Denyerover 1 year ago

    Good shot and dialogue John. – Ted

  • Ted, thank you so much, appreciated!

    – John Schneider

  • WildBillPho
    WildBillPhoover 1 year ago

    Beautiful shot, great description John! I never got to ride in one…my taxi was a 707 both ways operated by TWA.

  • Thank you, Bill appreciate your comment. The Vietnam flights she on….. better that you missed the opportunity!

    – John Schneider

  • Kevin Krueger
    Kevin Kruegerover 1 year ago

    Wonderful image and documentation John!
    Good thing it didn’t have a greater wingspan, would have to get a wider monitor!

  • Thank you, Kevin always appreciate your very kind comments! I know as it is I had to put two little wing extensions on the monitor :)!

    – John Schneider

  • Steven  Agius
    Steven Agiusover 1 year ago

    Great pano shot and write up John.

  • Steve, thank you so much appreciated!

    – John Schneider

  • vadim19
    vadim19over 1 year ago

    wonderful work!

  • Vadim, thank you so much, appreciated!

    – John Schneider

  • terezadelpilar~ art & architecture
    terezadelpilar...over 1 year ago

    fantastic shot and framing, what a fabulous “flying animal”!

  • Thank you so much, Tereza for this terrific compliment… always appreciated!

    – John Schneider

  • paintingsheep
    paintingsheepover 1 year ago

    Fabulous pano!! Wonderufl composition!!

  • Thank you so very much for your kind comment and favorite…. Appreciated!

    – John Schneider

  • Colin J Williams Photography
    Colin J Willia...over 1 year ago

    This is superb work !! – Colin

  • Thank you for the “Bravo”… much appreciated!!

    – John Schneider

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