U.S. Air Force Caribou  (C-7A)
Page 15

USAF Caribous Return to the States

Last updated December, 11, 2002         Latest data shown in red


(Click on photo to enlarge)

All the photos on this page are from James Hathcoat, who was a pilot assigned to the 536th Tactical Airlift Sq, 11-70 to 9-71, stationed at Cam Ranh Bay AB, Republic of Vietnam.

Dawning of a new day, heading back to the Big BX. On 14 September 1971, a ferry force commander, an operations officer, 15 Caribous flown by their intrepid aviators, plus one spare crew, left Cam Ranh Bay AB for Hamilton AFB, (just north of San Francisco in Marin County), California.  Our 15 'Bous island hopped from Cam Ranh to Clark AB, Philippine Islands (6.1 hours), on to Anderson AFB, Guam, (10.1 hours), then to Wake Island (11.3 hours), on to Midway Island (7.5 hours), to Honolulu IAP/Hickam AFB, Hawaii (9.5 hours), and finally on to Hamilton AFB, California.  Not making the Hickam-Hamilton leg due to a family medical emergency that sent me home early, I missed out on the projected 18 to 19 hour flight of a lifetime.
<<< Very loose route formation.
>>> Pretty good two-ship for out-of-practice TAC airlifters, ferrying home, September 1971.  Nothing more exhilarating that flying very loose finger tip at 120 knots. Took maybe all of 10 seconds to regain our former T-38 skill and finesse.  We had been briefed prior to leaving Cam Ranh that such activities were prohibited; sort of like being told to stop dropping into Phan Thiet to pick up lobsters and to quit dancing on stage with the USO performers at the Bien Hoa officers club.  Oh to be young again, 10 feet tall, and bullet proof.
<<< Going over the top,  (only if you turn the slide upside down).
>>> Caribous at Wake Island.  The HC-130 behind the Caribous on the right side of the ramp served as our "Duckbutt" (navigation / rescue) airplane.  The five Caribous in each cell would take off at 30 second intervals, with each cell taking off three or five minutes apart if I remember correctly.  The HC-130 "Duckbutt" would ride herd on us giving each cell a heading to fly to keep us all on course.  It worked quite well and was comforting to know there were always some para-jumpers willing to risk their lives and get into the water with us if we went down.
<<< Mr. DeHavilland's finest conquering the Pacific.
>>> C-7As at Midway Island, ferrying home, September 1971.
12 more Caribous departed Vietnam on December 10, 1971.  During this operation one Bou 62-4173 (C/N #112) was lost on December 19th.  That happening on the Hickam-Hamilton leg when the unfortunate crew lost an engine right at ETP and wound up ditching just west of the Farallon Islands, which are 30 miles west of San Francisco, California.  USAF para-jumpers, heroes always, rescued all three crew members before the airplane sank.

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