Saturday, May 06, 2006
Farewell to the Hanoi Taxi
Around 9:30 this morning, the last Air Force C-141 Starlifter returned to Wright-Patterson AFB, near Dayton, Ohio, ending a career that spanned more than 40 years. The retirement had been in the works for several years; for almost a decade, the Air Force has been phasing out the C-141, replacing the venerable transports with the newer, more capable C-17 Globemaster III.
But the C-141 that landed today at Wright-Pat will be remembered as more than the last Starlifter to fly an operational mission. Back in 1973, it was the first aircraft to bring our POWs home from North Vietnam. The repatriation flights earned that particular aircraft a nickname--the "Hanoi Taxi"--and a place in military history.
The Dayton Daily News has coverage of the C-141's next-to-last hop--Friday's special "reunion" flight of more than 100 Vietnam POWs and their families. For some of the former prisoners of war, it was the first time they had seen each other (and their Freedom Bird) in more than 30 years.
Video of the event from WHIO-TV.
In retirement, the Hanoi Taxi will become part of the permanent exhibit at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, also located at Wright-Patterson AFB.