Hanoi Taxi – The C141 Starlifter
I shot this plane on the outside tarmac static display at the National Museum of the US Air Force in Dayton Ohio a while back on a winter getaway, it was cold, windy and crappy shooting conditions outside, but I love to photograph these old beauties, so much so that I can walk by a $100 bill laying on the ground, or worse yet the sign that gave the history of this very special Starlifter. This image was buried in my archives until a couple of nights ago when I pulled this up in LR and decided to tweak it a bit, I also did some quick internet research on the Museum site to see what model aircraft this indeed was. The history of this craft was a bit sobering for sure, retired in 2006 and brought to the museum as a static display, the Hanoi Taxi had quite a history.
From the early 60’s and 70’s the Hanoi Taxi flew missions out of the Norton AFB in California. The Hanoi Taxi flew Bob Hope to USO shows in South Vietnam. The most notable flight was in 1973 when the Hanoi Taxi was used to repatriate American POW’s from North Vietnam, Senator John McCain was one of those POW’s that flew home on the Hanoi Taxi. The plane got its name from the writing on the flight engineers panel by the POW’s aboard the Freedom Flight in 1973. That plaque has been preserved and the inside of the craft is a museum in itself. A year before retiring the plane the Air Force made special appearances at events, and actually gave the 1973 POW’s the last flight on the airplane they flew to freedom, so damn cool.
In 2005 the Hanoi Taxi was used to evacuate people seeking refuge from Hurricane Katrina, and also making several MEDEVAC flights transporting the ill and injured, I was part of Katrina, spending several weeks with the Red Cross in Gulfport Mississippi helping those affected by the devastating storm. I will never forget the time I spent helping those people in Gulfport and Biloxi, it made the shot of this Starlifter quite special. I should really scan some of my still shots of my time there, that could make for an interesting post, maybe.
Since I photographed the Hanoi Taxi, the already HUGE National Air Force Museum is growing, and in June of this year they are opening a new wing, and the Hanoi Taxi has an inside well-deserved spot in the new wing.
The Museum is a special place, TAKE NOTE-The Museum at Wright Patterson in Dayton is one of the largest, if not the largest in the country after the new wing opening in June this year, over 360 aircraft and missiles on display, This place is FREE, no admission, tripod and camera-friendly, Free, you could spend 2 days here easy absorbing the history and relics on display, I highly recommend if you are near Dayton Ohio, make the trip. You will not regret it.
Thanks for stopping!