Wheels up landing of 62-4170 at Phu Cat on 14 March 1967


At 0905 hours on 14 Mar 1967, Major Dubberly as Instructor Pilot, First Lieutenant Jach as Co-pilot and Staff Sergeant Wolpert as Flight Engineer in a C-7A took off from Holloway Air Field, RVN, with seventeen passengers. As the aircraft was climbing through 4500 feet, approximately 1500 feet above the ground, a slight smoke odor was noticed by the crew members. All instrument and circuit breakers were monitored with no abnormal indication noted. The side cockpit windows were closed and the smell diminished. The climb was continued with level off and cruise power established at 7500 feet. Approximately ten minutes later an acrid smoke odor was again detected. All instruments and engines were scanned and Major Dubberly left his Co-pilot's seat, he was acting as Instructor Pilot, and tried to assist the flight engineer, SSgt Wolpert, in locating the source of the smoke. Smoke in the cabin was now affecting the passengers eyes, an all effort to locate the source was ineffective. Because the intensity of eye irritation was increasing, SSgt Wolpert opened the aft cargo door to help alleviate the smoke. First Lieutenant Philip E. Jach, flying from the left seat, had started a descent toward Phu Cat Air Base, RVN, as Major Dubberly was strapping himself into the right seat. While descending through 5,000 feet and approximately 10 miles from Phu Cat Air Base, the number one engine fire light for zone two and three illuminated. Engine inflight fire procedures were accomplished but the propeller would not feather. Both fire extinguisher bottles momentarily diminished the now blazing fire. Fire was seen to be burning well aft of the firewall and back toward the left wing. Maximum power was applied to number two engine and a three to four hundred foot per minute descent was the best performance attainable. Major Dubberly advised the Phu Cat tower of his emergency, had the passengers briefed and continued his descent for a straight-in approach to Phu Cat Air Base. At 1,000 feet, attempts to lower the landing gear proved unsuccessful, the gear controls had been burned away by this time. Still with maximum power on number two engine, number one propeller windmilling and zero flaps, Major Dubberly and Lt Jach continued the approach. By now number one engine had burned many pieces off the nacelle and flames were engulfing part of the wing. Bringing all his flying experience to bear, Major Dubberly took control of the aircraft from Lt Jach, crossed the end of the runway and touched the aircraft down on the fuselage. The aircraft slid 657 feet and came to a rest on the center line of runway 01. All aircraft power was turned off and the 17 passengers and crew of three evacuated the still burning aircraft. The base fire fighters quickly extinguished the fire. Subsequent investigation cited enemy action as the cause of the fire. Because of both Major Dubberly's and Lt Jach's crew coordination, pilots skill and professionalism during a critical emergency, and SSgt Wolpert's outstanding ability in rebriefing and controlling the passengers, all aboard escaped without injury. For their part in this harrowing emergency, all aircrew members were nominated for the Air Force Well Done Award.
/s/Edward J. Thielen 
Lt Col, USAF, Commander 

/s/Joseph R. Brand
Captain, USAF, Historical Officer


13 Jan 2009 03:17 PM