Although the picture below of JFK with Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and General Maxwell Taylor is from 1963, it illustrates and underlines the point that John Kennedy, a navy hero in WWII, understood the importance of having a strong military to protect the United States. Throughout his congressional career he portrayed himself as "tough on communism" and in the 1960 campaign blasted the Eisenhower-Nixon administration for losing Cuba to the communists and for allowing the missile gap between the U. S. and the soviets to develop.
The C-141 was designed and built to replace our aging fleet of troop carriers and cargo planes -- planes such as the C-119 Flying Boxcar...
Plans for the C-141 (initially given the factory designation Model 300) were developed by Lockheed and pieces of the plane were produced in plants around the country, including a wing part here in my home town, Nashville, TN...
And the first C-141 prototype rolled out of the plant in Marietta, GA, in August of 1963 and flew in December of that year. The first production run brought the first operational planes to the military in 1965...
The C-141 was huge; it was over 168 feet in length and had a wingspan of 160 feet...
Wiki gives the following stats concerning this important plane:
- Crew: 5–7: 2 pilots, 2 flight engineers, 1 navigator, 1 loadmaster (a second loadmaster routinely used, in later years navigators were only carried on airdrop missions); 5 medical crew (2 nurse, 3 medical technician) on medevac flights
- Length: 168 ft 4 in (51.3 m)
- Wingspan: 160 ft 0 in (48.8 m)
- Height: 39 ft 3 in (12 m)
- Wing area: 3,228 ft² (300 m²)
- Empty weight: 144,492 lb (65,542 kg)
- Max. takeoff weight: 342,100 lb (147,000 kg)
- Powerplant: 4 × Pratt & Whitney TF33-P-7 turbofans, 20,250 lbf (90.1 kN each) each
- Maximum speed: 567 mph (493 kn, 912 km/h)
- Range: 2,935 mi (2,550 nmi, 4,723 km)
- Ferry range: 6,140 mi(5,330 nmi, 9,880 km)
- Service ceiling: 41,000 ft (12,500 m)
- Rate of climb: 2,600 ft/min (13.2 m/s)
- Wing loading: 100.1 lb/ft² (490 kg/m²)
- Thrust/weight: 0.25
The famed "Hanoi Taxi" was a specific C 141, one of the earliest planes to become operational in the '60s. Besides other less glamorous assignments during its early service, this plane (not yet called the Hanoi Taxi) ferried Bob Hope to his USO shows in Vietnam. This C 141 also gained its famous name later when it was selected to ferry the just released POWs (airman and future senator John McCain was among them) from Hanoi to Clark Air Base in the Philippines. Some of the returning prisoners left their names on the flight panel and those names inspired the "Hanoi Taxi" nickname.
Sometimes the ordinary day to day actions and signings of U. S. presidents are forgotten by the general public because they don't have a lot of immediate impact on people's lives. President Kennedy's first act, approving production of the C-141, is not one of those actions. This plane has played an important role in American history with its contributions extending to Desert Storm and Desert Shield. And in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina was approaching New Orleans, a C-141, actually the same C-141 "Hanoi Taxi" mentioned earlier, evacuated hundreds of people before the storm hit.
In the comments to a video on You Tube called the "Mighty C-141," a pilot who identifies himself as John Tompkins has this to say about the plane:
Greatest airplane ever, biggest adventure ever. I thought all airplanes flew like that. Little did I know that they did not. Absolutely the best.
In addition to JFK and the Starlifter, I salute all veterans of the U. S. Armed Forces on this Veterans Day in 2013.