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Why I Chose the C-141
How and why I ended up in the cockpit of the 141 may
be unique in the
history of all the pilots who ever flew the plane.
My first flight in a C-141 was in May, 1967 when I was aeroevac-ed from Da Nang to Yokota, then on by helicopter to Yokosuka Naval Hospital for surgery. I was a Marine enlisted man who had been wounded on Hill 881 North near Khe Sanh on May 3, 1967. When I was ready, and well enough, to return to the states, I flew non-stop on a C-141 from Yokota to Travis. As we debarked from the plane I asked the stretcher bearers to let me down close to the ground. I then kissed the soil of the USA.
I went back to college, finished, then went to grad school. I got bored with the civilian job I took after grad school, so I applied to USAF pilot training with the express purpose of flying the C-141. I busted my ass and finished at the top of the class. I was sweating bullets that no C-141 would be in our block. Sure enough there were two, one to McChord & one to Norton. I chose Norton. I was recommended for a fighter assignment by my IP's , and there were two F-4s in the block.
When my IP's found out that I was choosing a "trash-hauler", they went nuts. They said they were going to make me get my wings presented to me in a garbage can. I never told anyone at my UPT base the real reason why I chose the 141. It had brought me home safe and I always loved the plane because of that. I wonder if any other pilot who ever flew the Lifter took their first ride in the plane as a stretcher casualty.