Gil on his VN Flying

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Gil on his VN Flying

    I haven't watched this yet, it's about an hour program by our own Gil! This was recorded about 10 days ago.

  • #2
    Thanks for the post, Scott. At several gigs, I tried to engage Gil in conversation, but it never worked. Turns out he and I were in some of the same places, but I was five years earlier. The places were Pleiku, Kontum, and the PSP runway he describes as being a little south of Pleiku. I knew it as the Turkey Farm.

    At that time, the runway had been bulldozed out of a stand of trees, open only on the departure end. Tall trees on the other three sides. It had been scaled for C-7 Caribous and their 25 knot landing and takeoff speeds. A Caribou could back taxi between the trees and turn around for departure. The open end was a mud flat which served as the load/unload point. The other side of the mud flat was the concertina wire at the perimiter, with rice paddies beyond.

    When I was there, we had several C-7 operations every day. It was the wet monsoon season. The red clay on PSP might just as well have been glare ice. It was hard to stand up, let alone walk. Wheel braking action was, of course, nil, except on the mud flat, where it was "some".

    One day, when we expected the first C-7 du jour, a C-130 began circling low over the place as if sizing it up for landing. We knew that was just about impossible, and wondered why he didn't just head for Pleiku, with its huge runway. Then an increment of flaps came out, and we got ready for trouble. We grabbed fire extinguishers, axes, litters, and everything else we thought might help with a crash rescue. Meanwhile, gear down and full flaps showed the pilot was serious about landing.

    He came in over the trees, nose high and slow, with a high sink rate, as if landing on an aircraft carrier. Except for the trees at the approach end, it was pretty much a carrier deck up to the mud flat. He took out some treetop foliage, and came down flying like a grand piano. I don't know whether Hercs have a squat switch, but ground contact and reverse thrust at full roar seemed simultaneous. The plane went right through the mud flat, through the concertina wire, and came to a stop with the nosewheels on a dike separating two rice paddies. The mains didn't quite get to the water.

    The tailgate opened, and there stood the loadmaster, trailing a long intercom cable. As Gil said, a C-130 can back up, and that's what they did, up to the mud flat. We unloaded the bird, and had nothing but a sack of mail to put in, so he was going to be much lighter for takeoff. I asked the loadmaster where he was going next. "Pleiku -- base laundry" Understood.

    He backed up the entire length of the runway, with several stops to forward the props and cool the engines before proceeding farther back. The mains were off before the mud flat.

    Turns out some "chairborne ranger" in Saigon had figured out that a single C-130 could do all the work of all the C-7s. He should have been forced to ride the navigator seat on the next flight, but it was Caribou time again, much to the relief of all.

    If that was Gil's PSP runway just south of Pleiku, I assume the runway had been widened and lengthened during the intervening five years. Otherwise, Gil would have asid more about that place.
    Geology rocks, but geography is where it's at.


    • #3
      I watched Gil's video. very nice.

      The officer's club in Saigon was one of the nicest officers clubs I had ever seen. Up at Dong Ha our "O" club was a bunker. ROFL.

      My oldest son was born a month after I got to RVN. He was housebroke by the time I got home a year later.

      This link is where the Atlanta History Center did an interview with one of the guys from my unit in Vietnam (48th AHC). He was an artillery officer like I was so we had very similar paths in the military. I flew with Phil from time to time in Vietnam. I always considered him one of the good guys.

      Catalog Number: VIS 201.0489In this interview, Philip Smith describes his experiences in the United States Army in the Vietnam War. He recalls his childhood ...

      I Earned my Spurs in Vietnam
      48th AHC 1971-72


      • #4
        [ I don't know whether Hercs have a squat switch, but ground contact and reverse thrust at full roar seemed simultaneous. ]

        There is a squat switch, but the wheels do not have to be on the ground to reverse the props. My first aircraft commander, Jon Musselman, used to put all four in reverse and put the yoke full forward at the same time to plant the airplane at the approach end. Scared the hell out of me. The wings would flex so much I feared the outboard props would hit the ground.