Pilot Reunited With C-130 He Flew to Escape Saigon 45 Years Ago

Restored “Saigon Lady” to be part of a Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Pham Quang Kheim (left) who flew the National Warplane Museum's C-130A to safety in the dying days of the Vietnam War standing in front of the aircraft which saved his family and 50 other refugees exactly 45 years ago to the day. He is standing beside Don Wilson, a member of the committee raising funding for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at the National Warplane Museum. (image via NWM)
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About six months ago, we noted the arrival, by road, of a combat veteran Lockheed Hercules at the National Warplane Museum in Geneseo, New York. This was C-130A 57-460, which had been a part of the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum for many years until they de-accessioned the aircraft and gifted her to the NWM last year. As we noted in our article HERE, this particular aircraft has an interesting history, having seen extensive use during the Vietnam War. Indeed her most notable mission was with the South Vietnamese Air Force when her pilot, Pham Quang Kheim, “borrowed” this particular C-130 during the dying days of the war in April, 1975, escaping in the aircraft from Saigon just before the city fell to the North Vietnamese. He flew to Singapore with his family and fifty or so refugees aboard the Herc’.

Forty five years later, to the day, Pham Quang Kheim revisited his family’s savior at the National Warplane Museum this April 8th to pay his respects to the aircraft which had saved so many. It was a remarkable moment, especially given all that we are collectively going through right now.

The National Warplane Museum is in the process of restoring the Hercules, which they have affectionately re-dubbed Saigon Lady. The museum recently posted the photos below on their Facebook Page showing some of the work they have been doing to spruce the old girl up. The aircraft will be the centerpiece of a memorial for veterans of the Vietnam War. Anyone wishing to contribute to this significant tribute should contact the museum to see how they can help!



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