Aerospace/Aviation/C133 & RC121


I served on the USS Lookout, AGR-2, as a Radarman out of Davisville, RI from late 1960 until late 1964. In 1960 or 1961 we were on station about 300 miles due South of Otis. In the middle of the night we were contacted by an RC 121 out of Otis. He was at the time of initial contact some 80 miles Southeast of us and was descending through 5,000 feet. He had lost two engines and was unable to maintain altitude. He informed us he was going to ditch and requested we vector him alongside and prepare to pick them up. The weather that night was terrible. We had 20 to 30 foot seas, 40 to 60 knots of wind, and zero visibility. We replied that there was zero chance of survival if he ditched. Following some discussion it was decided that possibly he would be able to remain airborne after he passed below about 100 feet on the ground effect. Fortunately that turned out to be true. His ground speed after setting down on the ground effect was only about 90 knots! He also informed us that he had dumped as much fuel as he could and still make it back to Otis. Also that they were throwing everything out a door that they could to reduce their weight. As I recall they had between 39 and 59 (don't remember the exact number but it ended with a 9) souls on  board which surprised me. We were communicating on 121.5 and 243.0 and a Mats C-133 returning from Europe overhead what was going on and contacted us. He said he had plenty of fuel and if we would vector him for an intercept he could escort the 121 back to Otis. This is what we did. I remember them discussing the fact that Otis was several hundred feet above sea level and wondering how they would be able to climb enough to clear the cliff and be able to land at Otis if they made it back. Fortunately by the time they got there they had burned off enough fuel weight and thrown enough additional stuff out the door and were able to make a successful landing. I am now 72 and will never forget what happened that night. I would very much like to know the tail number of that aircraft, who those folks were in that airplane, if any of them are still alive, as well as any other details of that extraordinary event.
Yours truly
Terry M Hart SR
608B South Potomac Street
Waynesboro, PA 17268
(717) 377-3977

Dear Terry

I posted your query on the C-133 blog. Maybe it will ring a bell with someone. I don't have the answer. The blog is I said that anyne with info should contact me and I'd link with you.

Cal Taylor

Cal Taylor


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Cal Taylor


Questions about the Douglas C-133 Cargomaster, its history, operations and technical information. I wrote and published the definitive history of the C-133, Remembering an Unsung Giant: The Douglas C-133 Cargomaster and Its People. Someone has done a good job of extracting material from my book for the article about the C-133 on AllExperts. I AM NOT an expert on educational opportunities in India or other countries and request that such questions be directed elsewhere. I will not answer such questions because I do not have the knowledge to do so adequately.


I accrued 1,837 hours as a C-133 navigator out of a total of 6,738 flying hours in the USAF. Twelve years of that time were as a crew member, the other years were in various training assignments and as a USAF intelligence officer. My flying experience includes time in the B-52H, C-141, C-133, AC-130, C-130 and the C-5A. I have considerable knowledge in general aviatio history.

Air Force Association, Military Officers Association of America, National Association of Uniformed Services, Vasa Order of America

Journal of the American Aviation Historical Society; Warbirds publication of the Experimental Aircraft Association; Quarterly of the Jimmie Doolittle Museum, Travis AFB, CA

BA, HIstory; MA, Asian Studies; MA, Management

Awards and Honors
Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, other military decorations

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