Operation Baby Lift – 3,300 Orphan Babies Had Been Evacuated and Adopted

, , ,

The first Babylift flight

A C-5A Galaxy was the first Operation Babylift plane that departed from Tan Son Nhat Airport shortly after 4:00 p.m. on April 4, 1975. Onboard were a total of 330 adults and children including the pilot, servicemen, and several Air Force personnel.

a93

They landed on Clark Air Base in the Philippines and were transferred to a chartered plane, ready to be welcomed by former president Rudolph Ford in the United States.

a92 a8 a9 a90

Twenty minutes after takeoff, tragedy struck. The moment the plane was flying over the South China Sea Pilot Capt. Dennis “Bud” Traynor and his co-pilot, Capt. Tilford Harp, struggled to take control of the plane as the locks on the rear loading ramp failed, causing the cargo door to open.

a995

The cabin of the C-5 was then filled with fog and debris, prompting both pilots to make a 180-degree return to Tan Son Nhat Airport. They were able to approach the runway in Saigon, but landing proved to be difficult as the plane began to descend rapidly.

a994

Despite the efforts of both pilots, the plane skidded off a rice paddy and eventually broke into four pieces. The fuel eventually caught fire, bringing the whole wreckage down with it.

Click next page for more photos