Monday, 21 March 2011

Permission to land


Top-left: A Huey thrown overboard; Top-right: Buang-Ly lands safely; Bottom: A rapturous welcome

On April 30th of 1975, with the Vietnam War coming to a close and the U.S. evacuating as many people as possible from South Vietnam in Operation Frequent Wind, crew aboard the USS Midway were surprised to see a small two-seat Cessna O-1 Bird Dog approach the vessel and then circle above. Flying that plane, having just escaped from Con Son Island with his wife and five children — also aboard — was South Vietnamese Air Force Major Buang-Ly. With no other communication method to hand and fuel running low, Buang-Ly soon began unsuccessfully dropping notes from the plane. Before long one hit the deck, attached to a heavy pistol; on it, a handwritten request to land on the carrier.

Noticing a severe lack of vacant runway on deck, Captain Larry Chambers made a quick decision: he immediately ordered all available crew to push as many of the dozens of UH-1 Huey helicopters into the ocean as necessary, thus giving Buang room to touch down. He soon landed the Cessna perfectly, without tailhook, to much applause.

Transcript follows.

(Sources: Images above courtesy of Midway Sailor; Image below courtesy of KPBS. Huge thanks to Nils Enevoldsen.)

Larger image here

Can you move the Helicopter to the other side, I can land on your runway, I can fly 1 hour more, we have enough time to mouve. Please rescue me.

Major Bung, wife and 5 child