Permission to land

Top-left: A Huey thrown overboard; Top-right: Buang-Ly lands safely; Bottom: A rapturous welcome

On April 30th of 1975, with the Vietnam War coming to a close and the U.S. evacuating as many people as possible from South Vietnam in Operation Frequent Wind, crew aboard the USS Midway were surprised to see a small two-seat Cessna O-1 Bird Dog approach the vessel and then circle above. Flying that plane, having just escaped from Con Son Island with his wife and five children — also aboard — was South Vietnamese Air Force Major Buang-Ly. With no other communication method to hand and fuel running low, Buang-Ly soon began unsuccessfully dropping notes from the plane. Before long one hit the deck, attached to a heavy pistol; on it, a handwritten request to land on the carrier.

Noticing a severe lack of vacant runway on deck, Captain Larry Chambers made a quick decision: he immediately ordered all available crew to push as many of the dozens of UH-1 Huey helicopters into the ocean as necessary, thus giving Buang room to touch down. He soon landed the Cessna perfectly, without tailhook, to much applause. Footage can be seen here.

Transcript follows.

(Sources: Images above courtesy of Midway Sailor; Image below courtesy of KPBS. Huge thanks to Nils Enevoldsen.)

Larger image here


Can you move the Helicopter to the other side, I can land on your runway, I can fly 1 hour more, we have enough time to mouve. Please rescue me.

Major Bung, wife and 5 child