Accident Lockheed C-5A Galaxy 68-0218, Friday 4 April 1975
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Date:Friday 4 April 1975
Time:16:30
Type:Silhouette image of generic C5 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Lockheed C-5A Galaxy
Owner/operator:United States Air Force - USAF
Registration: 68-0218
MSN: 500-0021
Engine model:General Electric TF39
Fatalities:Fatalities: 138 / Occupants: 314
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Destroyed, written off
Category:Accident
Location:4 km NE of Saigon-Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN) -   Vietnam
Phase: En route
Nature:Military
Departure airport:Saigon-Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN/VVTS)
Destination airport:Angeles City-Clark Air Base (CRK/RPMK)
Narrative:
The Lockheed C-5A Galaxy (68-0218) was engaged in Operation Babylift, a mission to bring Vietnamese orphans to the US in the few remaining days before the Republic of Vietnam fell. The C-5 departed Saigon-Tan Son Nhut Airport at 16:03. Twelve minutes after takeoff, after climbing through FL230, there was what seemed to be an explosion as the lower rear fuselage was torn apart. The locks of the rear loading ramp had failed, causing the door to open and separate. A rapid decompression occurred. Control and trim cables to the rudder and elevators were severed, leaving only one aileron and wing spoilers operating. Two of the four hydraulic systems were out. The crew wrestled at the controls, managing to keep control of the plane with changes in power settings by using the one working aileron and wing spoilers. The crew descended to an altitude of 4,000 feet on a heading of 310 degrees in preparation for landing on Tan Son Nhut's runway 25L. About halfway through a turn to final approach, the rate of descent increased rapidly to 4,000 feet per minute. Seeing they couldn't make the runway, full power was applied to bring the nose up. At 50 feet, the throttles where retarded to idle and the C-5 touched down in a rice paddy. Skidding about 1,000 feet, the aircraft again became airborne for a half mile before hitting a dike and breaking into four parts. The cargo compartment with 149 orphans and attendants was completely destroyed. Only three of 152 in the troop compartment perished. In total 138 of the 314 occupants died in the accident.

Sources:

Air Force Investigation report
Air Force Magazine, Aug. 1991

Location

Images:


photo (c) US Air Force; Saigon-Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN); April 1975; (publicdomain)

Revision history:

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