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C-141 Tail Number: 64-0614

On 31 October, 1977 64-0614 was involved in a 2 engine failure and barely managed to return for a safe landing.

Passing 700' during a heavyweight takeoff from Richmond RAAFB Australia to Pago Pago, the #3 engine experienced an uncontained engine failure. Parts of #3 engine penetrated the #4 engine, instantly causing it to fail. Parts also penetrated the cargo compartment starting a cargo fire within a pallet of household goods. The aircraft commander, in the right seat, took control of the aircraft as the aircraft started losing airspeed and altitude.

Initially planning to crash land, the AC turned toward a nearby riverbed. With the two good engine throttles fire walled the aircraft continued to descend. #3 engine was dangling from the pylon and on fire. #4 engine was peppered with holes. The wing was leaking fuel.

The aircraft continued to descend into the riverbed. In a final effort to keep flying, while still expecting a crash landing, the pilot elected to slowly retract the flaps. As the flaps retracted the airspeed stabilized and then increased. The aircraft stopped descending well below airfield elevation, just above the riverbed. As they started a climb, the crew had lost sight of the air base. They requested directions back to the airfield from tower, but were out of sight of the tower. An Australian C-130 in the traffic pattern gave them vectors to the runway.

In the cargo compartment, the load masters grabbed walk-around oxygen bottles and fire extinguishers. They fired the fire extinguishers into the pallet, while other crew members formed a fire brigade refilling oxygen bottles. Smoke filled the cargo compartment, reducing visibility to less than four feet. Smoke was also filling the cockpit. The pilot attempted to open the ram air door, but it was stuck. He was about to open the pilot's window when the navigator reached up and opened the sextant port. This effectively and quickly cleared the cockpit of smoke.

With the remaining two good engines operating at full power, the pilots maintained control of the aircraft and set up for a visual straight-in approach. The aircraft landed trailing engine parts and fuel. The crew and passengers evacuated successfully. The local fire department extinguished the fire.

Until this accident, the technique of "milking up" the flaps on a multiple engine failure had never been taught and was not an officially recognized procedure. The crew members each received the Air Medal.

Info provided by Paul Hansen.

Bob Maddern, an Aussie who was based at Richmond at the time of incident provided additional historical info on the incident in May of 2009.

From The Sun , Oct 31st 1977

From The Richmond and Windsor Gazzette , Nov 2nd, 1977

From The Norton Globetrotter , Nov 11th, 1977

Bob put this visual aid together.
It shows the approximate ground path that 614
took from takeoff and back around for landing.
It's a good bet the actual ground-track was
not quite as pretty as depicted in this 'perfect racetrack pattern'.

28 Oct 2004 / At AMARC-Tucson
Copyright: Phil Kovaric

This photo of 64-0614 and its crew was contributed by Alan Cockrell. It's hard to make out the a/c # but it is 614. It was taken in Yerevan Armenia in 1989. This was the second C-141 into Yerevan for earthquake relief and the first U.S. military flight into the Soviet Union without an onboard Soviet escort. Alan is the 3rd from right. The aircraft and crew belong to the 183 MAS Mississippi Air Guard.

Copyright: D. Lausberg
See more of his work at www.airliners.net

July 1986
Copyright: Paul Minert