National Museum of the USAF   Right Corner Banner
Join the Air Force

Home > Fact Sheets > Lockheed C-141C Starlifter "Hanoi Taxi"


Posted 1/12/2015 Printable Fact Sheet
Previous ImageNext Image
DAYTON, Ohio -- Lockheed C-141C Starlifter "Hanoi Taxi" at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)
Download HiRes

The C-141A, built between 1963 and 1967, was the USAF's first jet aircraft designed to meet military standards as a troop and cargo carrier. For more than 40 years, the C-141 Starlifter performed numerous airlift missions for the US Air Force. Its great range and high speed enabled the Starlifter to project American military power and humanitarian efforts rapidly across the globe.

The Starlifter originated in a 1959 requirement for a fast, strategic transport aircraft that would serve as a "work horse" for rapidly moving U.S. Army troops anywhere in the world. The C-141 made its maiden flight on Dec. 17, 1963.

The C-141A became operational in April 1965, with the 1501st Air Transport Wing at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., but it became apparent that the aircraft had much greater potential. Therefore, the USAF lengthened the C-141A's fuselage by 23.3 feet and added aerial refueling capability. The first modified "stretch" C-141B arrived at Altus Air Force Base, Okla., in December 1979, and Lockheed completed the modification program in 1982. The C-141B's additional cargo capacity gave the USAF the equivalent of an additional 90 C-141As. Later modifications strengthened the wings and added extra service life to the Starlifter. From 1997 to 2001, C-141Bs were converted to C-141Cs by the addition of advanced avionics.

In July 1986 the USAF began transferring its C-141s to the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard forces, and last two Starlifters were retired from service in 2006. Over its four decade career, the Starlifters logged more than 10 million hours, including a record set in 1981 when a C-141 flew 67,000 pounds of cargo non-stop from New Jersey to Saudi Arabia, refueling three times in flight.

Despite its many military and humanitarian missions, none was more significant than the mission flown by the Hanoi Taxi, the aircraft on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. This C-141 airlifted the first American prisoners of war to freedom from Gia Lam Airport in Hanoi, North Vietnam, on Feb. 12, 1973. The Hanoi Taxi flew two missions into Hanoi, carrying out 78 POWs and two civilian returnees to the Philippines, and four missions from the Philippines to the United States, carrying 76 ex-POWs.

Afterward, 66-0177 continued flying missions around the world, and over three decades of service, the Hanoi Taxi flew more than 40,000 hours and underwent many changes. Originally built as a C-141A model, its fuselage was lengthened by 23.3 feet in the early 1980s, and the USAF redesignated it as a C-141B. Later, the aircraft had its wings strengthened, and from 1997 to 2001, all C-141Bs were converted to C-141Cs by the addition of advanced avionics. In 2002 the Hanoi Taxi received its final programmed depot maintenance, and it was repainted as it appeared when it went to Hanoi in 1973 -- except for the Red Cross. It flew in these markings for the next four years.

In May 2004 the Hanoi Taxi again tapped the timelines of history when Maj. Gen. Edward J. Mechenbier, himself a POW repatriated from Vietnam, flew it back to Vietnam to repatriate the remains of two American service members killed in action.

The Hanoi Taxi was retired to the museum in May 2006.

Crew: (Five or six) Two pilots, two flight engineers and one loadmaster and one navigator (added for airdrops); two flight nurses and three medical technicians added for aeromedical evacuation missions
Armament: None
Engine: Four Pratt & Whitney TF33-P-7 turbofan engines with 20,250 lbs. thrust each
Maximum speed: 500 mph
Load: Either 200 troops, 155 paratroops, 103 litters and 14 seats, or 68,725 lbs of cargo
Range: Unlimited with in-flight refueling

Click here to return to the Air Park.

Find Out More
Blue line
Related Fact Sheets
Return with Honor: American Prisoners of War in Southeast Asia
Blue line
Cockpit360 Images
View the C-141C Pilot Station
View the C-141C Copilot Station
View the C-141C Flight Deck Overview
View the C-141C Forward Cargo Area
View the C-141C Aft Cargo Area
Blue line
Hanoi Taxi Arrival (00:01:46)
Blue line
Air Force Museum Foundation
View C-141 products in the Museum Store
Blue line
Note: The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the National Museum of the USAF, the U.S. Air Force, or the Department of Defense, of the external website, or the information, products or services contained therein.

 Inside the Museum

ima cornerSearch

ima cornerAircraft


tabRelated Links

Museum Virtual TourMuseum Facebook PageMuseum Twitter PageMuseum Instagram
Museum Google Plus PageMuseum Pinterest PageMuseum YouTube ChannelMuseum Flickr Page
Museum PodcastsMuseum E-newsletter Sign-upMuseum RSS Feeds

Site Map      Contact Us     Questions     Security and Privacy notice     E-publishing  
Suicide Prevention    SAPR   IG   EEO   Accessibility/Section 508   No FEAR Act