The Cessna unexpectedly landed not only on Red Square

The Cessna unexpectedly landed not only on Red Square

This history I read it on one of the Internet resources. They remembered her, apparently, because the anniversary happened. I became interested, I dug around the Internet, and this is what came out of four lines and a short video.

First, a prelude with pictures to get into the atmosphere.

"Gusty Wind"

On April 29, 1975, the United States launched Operation Frequent Wind, the last operation of the Vietnam War. The purpose of the operation was to evacuate American citizens, Western embassy employees and at-risk Vietnamese from Saigon, which was days away from its fall. The evacuation itself began in early March and was initially carried out by conventional aircraft.

During Operation Gusty Wind, the last phase when Saigon airfields became inaccessible, the removal of people continued by helicopters. For this purpose, several collection points for evacuees were designated in the city, and a specially organized task force, Task Force 76, gathered at sea, southeast of Vũng Tàu.

The ships received helicopters and watercraft that were able to reach them.

The operation lasted from 29 to 30 April, during which time helicopters transported more than 7 people. Already at the very beginning, all plans went wrong, mainly due to the fact that Vietnamese helicopters also got involved in transporting people. Moreover, unlike the American ones, local pilots were not at all eager to make land-sea-land shuttle flights, but stayed where they managed to land. The helicopters came in a continuous stream, and pandemonium quickly formed on the decks of aircraft carriers and landing ships.

It got to the point that in some places the helicopters had to be pushed overboard.

Don't be confused by the emblem on board - it's the colors of the South Vietnamese Air Force.

Some helicopters were ordered to disembark passengers, take off, and make a "controlled water landing." Some pilots did it like this:

However, boarding helicopters in the city occurred with some difficulties.

The history of the following photographs is as follows: until the very moment the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops entered Saigon, a photojournalist from Holland, Hubert van Es, worked in the city. While in his office, from his balcony he took a photo that was then called a symbol of American participation in Vietnam:

It is believed that this is the roof of the American embassy, ​​but in fact it is a simple residential building where difficult people lived - employees of the CIA station in Saigon. Hubert took a dozen photographs, but only one made it into the press and made him famous.

As for the other shot taken from the same point, the photographer apparently found it very inconvenient.

But this was all an introduction, and now, finally, to the topic of the article.


On April 29, 1975, around noon, the aircraft carrier USS Midway, part of OG-76, began transporting evacuees, of whom a very large number had accumulated, to transport ships of the Sealift Command. At that moment, a light-engine two-seater Cessna O-1E Bird Dog aircraft appeared above the aircraft carrier. The plane made a circle, turned on the landing lights and passed over the deck, making it clear that it was not averse to landing.

At the helm was Major Ly Bung (Buang-Ly in another transcription), commander of the 114th reconnaissance squadron of the South Vietnamese Air Force, stationed on Con So island 100 km from the coast. According to other sources, the major flew directly from Saigon.

The passengers were his wife and five children, the youngest of whom was 8 months old and the eldest 6 years old. The youngest was held on her lap by his wife, while the rest huddled in the luggage compartment. The plane had the minimum necessary navigation equipment, was not adapted for flights over the sea and did not have a landing hook. The pilot himself not only never boarded an aircraft carrier, but never even saw one.

According to the major’s recollections, he knew that somewhere at sea there were ships ready to accept refugees, but he did not know their exact location. Having taken off, he headed in the general direction of the north, and then he was lucky: he saw a “string of helicopters”, clearly heading towards some target familiar to them, and settled down behind them. When he reached the aircraft carrier, he realized that his problems were not over, because there was absolutely no place to land.

The commander of the aircraft carrier was Captain Lawrence Chambers, a former naval aviator and the first African American to command such a colossus. A little more than a month has passed since his appointment.

Having reported the appearance of the Cessna to the commander of the task force, Admiral Harris, he was instructed to recommend that the pilot land the plane on the water. It was not possible to contact the plane (Lee did not have a radio headset: there was none on the plane, and he did not waste time searching).

The aircraft carrier began to zigzag, a smoke signal was thrown overboard, and a rescue helicopter took off from the deck, hinting to the pilot what he needed to do. However, almost immediately one of the observers discovered that there were at least 4 people on the plane.

Meanwhile, the plane passed over the deck twice, dropping notes, but the wind carried them overboard. The third time, the major attached the note to his pistol, and it finally got where it needed to go.

“Can you move the helicopters to the other side? I can sit on the deck. I have fuel for another hour of flight. Please save me. Major Buang, wife and five children."

It became clear that with such cramped conditions, people most likely would not be able to get out of the cabin when landing on water, especially since an aircraft whose landing gear cannot be retracted is highly likely to collapse. The plane had to be landed, but there was no room for this.

Everyone off duty was called onto the deck, regardless of rank, and they manually began to pull the helicopters to the sides, forming a landing strip for the Cessna. Helicopters that could not be moved were ordered to be pushed overboard. All landing cables that would have interfered with landing were also removed.


Mr. Chambers recalls further.

The sky was covered with thick clouds, and light rain began. Since we were working with helicopters, we did not need high speed, and I gave permission to the chief mechanic to take half of the boilers out of service for repair work. When I told him we needed at least 25 knots, he said we didn't have enough steam for that. I ordered the emergency diesel generators to be started and the entire household load transferred to them.

As a result, we were able to accelerate to 24 knots.

After that, all I had to worry about was the admiral's instructions, which I had not followed, and whether the major would have the skill to deal with the swirling air that formed behind the carrier's stern. The strong wind above the deck increased the downward effect and turbulence.

When the plane landed, its relative speed, in my estimation, was only 20–25 knots. He did a great job and the entire deck crew applauded him.

To be honest, after this story I was afraid that I would be court-martialed because I was leaving about $10 million worth of property overboard. But it turned out that I was not the only one, and you can’t drag everyone to court, can you?

Commander (then Major) Vern Jumper, Air Boss on the aircraft carrier, recalls.

We left Yokosuka and planned to spend 10 days in Subic Bay, where some repairs were expected. However, three days later we received orders to join our evacuation force. the fleet. We left all our aircraft and about 500 crew in the Philippines to free up space for evacuees, and in return we took on board ten powerful HH-53s (Sykorsky HH-53 Jolly Green Giant, carried from 37 to 55 people depending on the modification . Famous for their participation in the unsuccessful operation to free American prisoners of war - the camp turned out to be empty).

When the operation began, literally three hours later the sky above us was filled with dozens of helicopters scurrying in different directions. Army 53s, Vietnamese big guys like CH-47s, and the ubiquitous baby Hueys were flying toward us from the shore, while Marine Sea Kings were transporting people from aircraft carriers to transport ships—all at the same time and in huge numbers.

One Huey had 50 people on board, even though they were only designed for four. We didn’t even refuel the army helicopters; if their engines were still running, they immediately flew off to pick up the next batch of people.

We had no idea what we were up against. No one planned or expected that hundreds of helicopters would continuously fly towards us for 30 hours. At one point I counted 26 cars hovering above us, waiting for permission to land, and not one was answering radio calls. My team remembered all the hand signals from the textbook. Many were low on fuel. I was very afraid that one of them would fall on the deck; that would be a disaster.

The operation was already ending, and suddenly this Cessna appeared out of nowhere. A small reconnaissance plane, it circled above us and suddenly made an approach to the deck at an altitude of about 30 meters. He did this two or three times, trying to throw the note. The third time he succeeded, and it was written there that there were seven people in the 2-seater plane.

In general, in short, at first we tried to convince him to sit on the water. We would hang a lifeguard over him, lower the swimmers and save him. But Captain Chambers, our skipper, he made a wise decision.

He said: no, this cannot be done, his children will die. And this is the honest truth, this baby would have turned over its nose and we would never have gotten the children out of the cabin. So he said, “Vern, we're bringing him on board. Clear the deck for me."

“Yes, sir,” I said, and we began to work. We cleared the corner deck and turned into the wind. The guy made a couple of sighting runs, and I didn’t even have a radio to tell him. But he saw that we were ready.

And so he began the final approach, and he did just great. He touched the deck exactly where it was needed, in the area of ​​the cables - and we removed them so as not to interfere, because he did not have a landing hook. If there had been, he would have caught the third cable, and this is the highest rating for a naval pilot.

He touched the deck, bounced once and rolled. The people ran after him to catch him by the wings if he did not stop - but he stopped himself.

The major and his wife jumped out of the cab, threw the back seat forward and pulled their children out of there. She held the smallest one in her arms when they landed.

My whole crew and everyone who was on deck ran there. They were jumping, screaming and making a terrible noise. Everyone was very happy.

Crowd of greeters.

Children are carried out of the plane.

The major's wife did not seem to understand that it was all over.


First interview.

A photo for memory.

What happened next?

The aircraft carrier is now berthed in San Diego, converted into a museum in its name. In its hangar there is still a Cessna, which the commander of the aircraft carrier at one time ordered to be kept intact.

Little is known about the further fate of Major Buang-Li. He became a citizen and lived somewhere in Florida, his three daughters received medical degrees, and his sons served in the army, and even supposedly in the Air Force. The last photos with his participation date back to 2014. His family has grown significantly.

Retired Admiral Lawrence Chambers is now 94 years old. In 2018, he gave a video interview and looked quite good for his age.

Air Boss Vern Jumper was actively involved in the museum's work, here is an interview with him at his former workplace on the 45th anniversary of Operation Gusty Wind.

That's how it all ended well.

21 comment
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  1. +9
    8 May 2024 05: 07
    Interesting. I'm hearing about many things for the first time. I was surprised - the black commander of the aircraft carrier... As for the mentioned "Sesna" on Red Square, for me personally it was a shock and slight confusion, how is this possible? I was young and stupid... lol
    1. +4
      8 May 2024 06: 01
      As for the mentioned "Sesna" on Red Square, how is this possible?
      Remember 1983, when a Korean Boeing was shot down. The military authorities were simply afraid to take responsibility for the disposal of another civilian aircraft
  2. +2
    8 May 2024 05: 48
    . Cessna landed unexpectedly Not only to Red Square

    But the Cessna was not expected on Red Square and the area was not cleared before landing.
  3. +3
    8 May 2024 06: 05
    "Tsesna" as a symbol of some great catastrophe....
  4. +7
    8 May 2024 06: 10
    The captain showed humanity, everything turned out well. The Vietnamese understood that after the victory of the North, kirdyk awaited him, the fate of his family would be gloomy, so his incentive to escape with his owners was powerful and understandable.
    Whether there will be similar sympathy with the Ukrainians when the matter inevitably comes to an end... it’s hard to say.
  5. +2
    8 May 2024 06: 11
    What white and fluffy Americans... they saved a South Vietnamese army officer and his family... I actually shed tears.
    And when I remembered how those same Americans burned and poisoned entire villages of Vietnamese, along with women, children and old people, this tenderness disappeared.
    Author, why did you post this article?
    You really don’t want to show the USA in the beautiful colors of humanity.
    1. +2
      12 May 2024 00: 18
      This example is about how people don’t abandon their own. Push several helicopters into the ocean, but save 7 people - this is about what is called honesty. Don’t think that only the Russians don’t abandon their own - yes, even the striped ones fight for their own, and how. But this is not about ukrov, these don’t get into the big leagues.
  6. +3
    8 May 2024 08: 46
    this is what came out of four lines and a short video

    What can a woman make out of nothing? A woman can make a salad, a hat and a scandal out of nothing.
    It got to the point that in some places the helicopters had to be pushed overboard.

    The author composed it on special occasion. In fact, in the photo with the Vietnamese helicopter, this is the same case when a Vietnamese man and his family were rescued.
    They began to manually pull the helicopters to the sides, forming a landing strip for the Cessna. Helicopters that could not be moved were ordered to be pushed overboard.

    The aircraft carrier commander was sure that the case would end in court, but still gave the order to drop the helicopters.
    Lawrence Cleveland "Larry" Chambers (born June 10, 1929) is the first African American to command an aircraft carrier in the United States Navy and the first African American Naval Academy graduate to achieve flag officer rank.
  7. +10
    8 May 2024 08: 59
    Thank you! Interesting story, from the article I realized that the evacuation was similar to Afghanistan in terms of relaxed
    flights of people to the ground without a kick. The Americans don’t bother with technology during retreats; they understand that it’s a consumable item; the main thing is people; there’s a lot of technical potential on the mainland. ps Major Lee may have been of great importance, I don’t presume to judge the humanity of the striped ones.
  8. +4
    8 May 2024 10: 29
    I couldn’t find the second photo of Hubert van Es, where they push down the stairs with their feet, anywhere on the Internet. But there is a photo where the helicopter flies away, but the ladder is in place and people are standing on it. So they probably drew it for fun. It’s a pity, this would really be a symbol of American flight.
    1. +1
      8 May 2024 13: 38
      Quote: belost79
      So they probably drew it for fun. It’s a pity, this would really be a symbol of American flight.

      There are many mistakes in the image itself. There was no Photoshop then.
      As for the story itself, the Yankees’ ability to make a heart-warming show out of an essentially ambiguous situation is evident. The captain may well have been motivated by fears that the pilot would try to land on an uncleared deck. The latter had nothing to lose. If they valued people so much, then why wasn’t this Cessna sent overboard so that at least one more helicopter could land? So they brought it home, for the show and the museum, as proof of their “philanthropy.” Image comes first.
  9. 0
    8 May 2024 10: 33
    Quote: Dutchman Michel
    Remember 1983, when a Korean Boeing was shot down. The military authorities were simply afraid to take responsibility for the disposal of another civilian aircraft

    Like: “There’s an elderberry in the garden, and there’s a guy in Kyiv” -?
    1. +4
      8 May 2024 11: 10
      Quote: Lynnot
      Like: “There’s an elderberry in the garden, and there’s a guy in Kyiv” -?

      No, everything is just logical. Our leadership was wobbling too much after the second downed Korean Boeing - both outside the country and inside. Was the same Osipovich quickly removed from the combat regiment at the school? The nomination for the award was twice rejected and awarded a year later with the vague wording “for success in combat and political training.” And after the arrival of the Marked One with his perestroika and glasnost, it was generally possible to face a tribunal even with full compliance with the instructions.
    2. 0
      8 May 2024 11: 46
      Like: “There’s an elderberry in the garden, and there’s a guy in Kyiv” -?
      In the Far East - Boeing, and in Moscow - Cessna. It's in your head elderberry in the garden wink
      1. -2
        11 May 2024 17: 49
        Cessna Rusta and Cessna Buanga are different Cessnas, different times and circumstances. Far Eastern Boeing - especially since “it’s different.” Or is it like that joke about the doctor, the patient and sexy pictures?
  10. +4
    8 May 2024 13: 53
    The article is interesting, but it is spoiled by the author’s gags, like this one, for example:
    The aircraft carrier is now berthed in San Diego, converted into a museum in its name. In its hangar there is still a Cessna, which the commander of the aircraft carrier at one time ordered to be kept intact.

    Cessna O-1 Bird Dog, "which the commander of the aircraft carrier at one time ordered to be kept intact", is housed at the National Naval Aviation Museum located at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida (pictured).
    And in the USS Midway Museum it is also a Cessna O-1 Bird Dog, but different, “repainted” to resemble Major Buang-Li’s plane.
    1. kig
      9 May 2024 04: 14
      Well, maybe, but why is this a gag? Here is a shot from a video tour of the museum, which is an aircraft carrier, and over there is a Cessna
      1. +1
        9 May 2024 07: 27
        and over there is the Cessna

        I wrote it in the comments. It's a Cessna, but not the same one.
        1. kig
          9 May 2024 12: 11
          Sure? What if it's the other way around? Everything is an illusion in this internet world
          1. +2
            9 May 2024 13: 54

            Sure. I have been to both museums.
      2. 0
        11 May 2024 17: 56
        Apparently, a hint at the theme of the humanitarian goals of the aircraft carrier.