Far North Queensland Skies Cairns and Townsville Airport, Australia

Far North Queensland Skies Cairns and Townsville Airport, Australia

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Copyright Notice

All photos on Far North Queensland Skies are copyrighted to me, or the photographer of that photo. All photos that are downloaded from Far North Queensland Skies are strictly intended for personal use only. Anyone, including the media, who would like to use any of the photos on the Blog, for any purpose other than personal use, must contact me in writing to obtain permission to use the photo(s). Any photo not taken by me, that was obtained from another photographer or another source, that appears on this Blog, will be duly acknowledged as such.

Friday, 31 July 2015

FNQ Yestayear Extra - The 'Lifter's Half Century


50 years ago, the USAF’s MATS division took delivery of the first of 284 LOCKHEED C-141A’s which was named ‘Starlifter’.  As deliveries took place it gradually replaced its predecessor, the C-124 Globemaster ll, to form the backbone of the US military’s transport capability for the next three decades.  The C-141 has been involved in every major world conflict be it involving the U.S or in a supporting role for allies from 1965 to 2004 when the last active duty example was retired, being replaced by the C-17 who took over the mantle.  It shouldered a large percentage of airlift duty during the Vietnam War, both in the cargo and personnel role. MATS became MAC in 1966, and from 1992 flew under the AMC banner.

In 1975 all existing C-141A’s were modified to C-141B’s which involved a two plug fuselage extension and an in-flight refuelling capability. In 1992 further modifications were made to 63 C-141B’s becoming C-141C’s, the changes being mainly internal plus additional software upgrades.  Over the years the Starlifter became a familiar sight as it crisscrossed the globe visiting numerous facilities including landing on the ice caps. An example on the production line was modified to commercial standards (L-300) in the hope that the civil cargo market might find it attractive, but there was little interest and the aircraft was passed on to NASA. 

The C-141 was no stranger in the Pacific, a major theatre of operations for the aircraft, and of course Australia figured in this respect with frequent supply flights to U.S installations in the country and supporting numerous exercises. The Cairns airport saw several visits of the Starlifter in the decades before retirement.   Probably the most notable being the visit of an example sent to pick up former President Clinton after 9/11, who happened to be visiting the area.  Following withdrawal of the type from ANG service the last operating unit of the type, they were retired to the AMARG facility in Arizona for storage.  The familiar sight may well be gone but not forgotten.
backtracking on rw15 at Cairns is this C-141B wearing EU1 camouflage

60130 a Mississippi ANG (reserve) C-141C climbs out of Cairns in the later grey trim

70021 a C-141C of the Tennessee ANG (reserve) lays over at Cairns

CIC of MAC used this C-141B as his personal transport.
Note gold trim on tail and cheat line. 
70166 was the final Starlifter built, seen here at RIAT.

this C-141B was caught over the fence for rw33 at Cairns

MAC C-141B 70024 rotates off runway 23 at Dublin, it wears the high viz trim

C-141A 50248 at Mildenhall in the original silver finish, the shorter fuselage is evident

newspaper cutting, courtesy of the Cairns Post

NASA 714 L-300 N714NA seen here at Christchurch

64-0616 C141B McGuire seen at Wellington Airport.

64-0616 C141B McGuire landing rw16 at Wellington Airport.
Thanks to GAFLIKS for providing this Yestayear Extra report.

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