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C-133 Missions

    This page will go into some of the interesting and challenging missions flown by C-133s all over the world. Most of what is shown below comes from a 1971 article in the Travis AFB Global Ranger, so they reflect 84th MAS missions. There were many that the 1st and 39th flew out of Dover that I don’t have details on. These would include a 1962 3-ship deployment to India, where C-133 crewmembers put stickers on Soviet transports also involved there, and the 1959 Paris Air Show, where stickers again were a prominent part of the operation. Two Travis airplanes flew a round-the-world flight and details will be posted when they are available. Anyone with information to add, please contact me

       Drifter's Reef

                             Drifter's Reef, Wake Island before 1970                            Waldo Fuller           Drifter's Reef, Wake Island                                                                               Terry Wall       


        An important part of every mission was crew rest. One of the best known crew rest locations was the famous Drifter's Reef, on
Wake Island. For many years, it was in the rustic structure in this picture. Then, sometime in about 1970, facilities on Wake Island were upgraded and made of more durable materials, namely, concrete block. But, thanks to Waldo Fuller, you can all remind yourselves of that important place.


            The C-133 took part in many major exercises, where its ability to carry outsized or very heavy cargo made it extremely valuable. These exercises extended from the United States to many parts of the world. As the Vietnam War made increased demands upon the United States military, the C-133 routinely made long trips from Dover AFB, Delaware and Travis AFB, California to locations in Southeast Asia (SEA).     


Major Named Exercises


Big Slam/Puerto Pine (14-28 March 1960)

            First participation in a joint military operation, which took place in Puerto Rico.

Tip Top (October 1960)

Long Pass (February 1961)

            February 1961. Aircraft used to deploy US troops and equipment to the Republic of the Philippines.

Check Mate II (September 1961)

Great Shelf/Tagpo (January-February 1962)

Long Thrust IIA (January-February 1962)

New Tape (January and October 1962)

Back Porch (May-July 1962)

Swift Strike II (July-August 1962)

Three Pairs (September-October 1962)

Cuban Missile Crisis (October 1962)

Coulee Crest (April-May 1963)

Tidal Wave (May-July 1963)

Swift Strike III (July-August 1963)

Big Lift (October 1963)

Operation Delawar (April 1964)

Desert Strike (April-June 1964)

Indian River (June 1964)

Gold Fire I (October-November 1964)

Ayacucho (December 1964)

Blue Light (December 1965-January 1966)

            1966. 23 Dec 65-23 Jan 66. Participated in the airlift of the 3rd Brigade, 25th Infantry Div from Schofield Barracks, HI to Pleiku AB, RVN.

Eagle Thrust (November-December 1967)

            17 Nov-29 Dec 67. Airlift of the entire 101st Airborne Division from Ft Campbell, KY to Bien Hoa, RVN.

Combat Fox (January-February 1968)

Reforger II (January 1969)

Acid Test (February 1969)

Project Eclipse (March 1969)

Fig Hill (September 1970)



Unusual and Outsize Cargo Missions


            Over its service life, the C-133 transported an immense variety of cargo all over the world. When it was something heavy or very large, the C-133 was the only airplane with combination of lift, size and range to do the job. Not until the C-5 Galaxy came into service in 1971 could another US military aircraft transport such loads.

            October 1961. C-133 delivers three pieces of snow equipment to McMurdo Sound, Antarctica. This information is from a chronology posted by VX-6, the US Navy flying squadron that operated in Antarctica for decades. It is subject to revision.

            December 1961. Transport booster for John Glenn’s first flight to Cape Canaveral.

            1962. First Titan II ICBM airlifted from Denver, CO, to Cape Canaveral.

            Late 1962. First of many Minuteman ICBMs airlifted. Carried in air-conditioned, humidity controlled containers to bases including Malmstrom AFB, Montana, Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota, and Minot AFB, North Dakota.

            October 27, 1963. First launch vehicle for Project Gemini moved to Cape Canaveral.

            October 1963. Airlift of emergency relief supplies to Trinidad and Tobago after Hurricane Flora.

            December 1963. First C-133 to New Zealand. Carried propeller and propeller shaft for icebreaker USS Atka to Wellington.


Relief Mission to Costa Rica


Ray Kohler was on one of three C-133 crews involved in relief missions to Costa Rica, from 21 May 64 to 30 May 64. They flew out of Gulfport, MS to San Jose, Costa Rica, hauling Sea Bees and their earthmoving equipment because of a large volcano that was causing much damage there. The volcano had diverted a large river and was causing a lot of flooding. Ray’s was the first C-133 to land at El Coco International Airport. There was much difficulty finding the airport because of the thick volcanic ash in the air. When we landed there was volcanic ash piled up on the side of the runway about 2 ft. high.

There was about 2000 people there to watch the landing and the President of Costa Rica came out to the plane and shook the hand of every crewmember. The 3 big news media were there and took films but Ray never saw anything on the news about the mission. John Burnett was the AC on Ray’s plane. The crew stayed in San Jose at a very nice hotel and was treated like kings by the local people. Ray made 2 flights into El Coco.


            December 1964. Airlifted relief supplies to Korea for orphanages.

            January 1965. Transported prefabricated classrooms to Peshawar, Pakistan.

            September 1966. Airlifted replacement propeller for aircraft carrier USS Coral Sea to Atsugi NAS, Japan. Load weighed a total of 36,000 pounds.

            November 1966. Airlift research equipment to Brazil for study of a solar eclipse. 

            February 1967. Moved a complete satellite tracking station to the Philippines.

            April 1967, First aerial delivery of CH-47 helicopters to Vietnam.

            April 1967. First air shipment of a mobile aeromedical evacuation center from Travis AFB to Vietnam.

            April 1967. Delivered US Navy photographic laboratory to Australia.

            August 1967. First airlift of 34,000-pound diesel submarine engine to Japan.

            1968. Airlifted deep-sea research vessel from California to Massachusetts to search for lost sister ship, Alvin. First airlift of a submersible vehicle. 

            1963-1969. Airdrops of Apollo Command Service Module to test Apollo ground landing system. Drops were from over 30,000’ to DZs on El Centro NAS, CA.

            October 1970.  A Dover C-133 airlifts two Hueys and a larger helicopter from Quonset Point NAS, RI, to McMurdo Sound, Antarctica. Total distance was more than 25,000 miles.


Alternative C-133 cargo loads included the following, but many others were carried:

            Four OH-1 Bird Dog observation aircraft.

            Five UH-I Huey helicopters.

            Two HH-3 Jolly Green Giant helicopters.

            One CH-47 Chinook heavy-lift helicopter.

            One Sikorsky Skycrane heavy-lift helicopter.

          One F-4 Phantom fighter.

            One each of Atlas, Titan, Thor, Jupiter, Snark or Hound Dog missiles.

            11 pallets of cargo.





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