Today in History – March 23, 1967 – An Intruder and a Starlifter meet on the runway in Da Nang. Chaos ensues.

23 March 1967 – The worst ground aviation accident of the Vietnam War occurred at Da Nang Air Base, South Vietnam when a traffic controller cleared USMC Grumman A-6A Intruder, BuNo 152608, of VMA(AW)-242, MAG-11, for takeoff but also cleared USAF Lockheed C-141A-LM Starlifter, 65-9407, of the 62nd Military Airlift Wing, McChord AFB, Washington, to cross the runway.

The A-6 crew saw the Starlifter at the last moment, veered off the runway to tried to avoid it, but its port wing sliced through the C-141’s nose, which immediately caught fire. A load of 72 acetylene gas cylinders ignited and caused a tremendous explosion. The loadmaster escaped through the rear hatch.

The Intruder overturned, skidded down the runway on its back, but both crew, Capt. Frederick Cone and Capt. Doug Wilson, survived, crawling out of a smashed canopy after the jet stopped. Some of the ordnance load of 16 X 500 lb. bombs and six rocket packs went off in the ensuing fire.

Military Airlift Command crew killed were Capt. Harold Leland Hale, Capt. Leroy Edward Leonard, Capt. Max Paul Starkel, S/Sgt. Alanson Garland Bynum, and S/Sgt. Alfred Funck. This was the first of two C-141s lost during the conflict, and one of only three strategic airlifters written off during the Vietnam War.

Source: Wikipedia:Aviation/Anniversaries

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