06 August 2012

C-123 Returns to Westover! Great New England Air Show

Thunder Pig at Westover 5 Aug 2012 (photo David Henry)
This weekend's Great New England Air Show brought out over 100,000 visitors each day, thanks to great Westover hospitality, warm weather and a host of wonderful airplanes.

And especially, thanks to the return to Westover of Thunder Pig, perhaps the only remaining original-configuration C-123 still flying in CONUS. Gail French (who earned a DFC for landing 707 in flames and saving his crew) stopped by to admire the old ship and thank the volunteers who keep her flying.

Thanks to AF veteran David Henry, a treasure trove of documentary photographs were gathered to help describe the interior and exterior of this historic aircraft. Although not an Agent Orange spray bird, Thunder Pig's configuration is the same as the aircraft stationed at Westover 1972-1982, and the photos show the complexity of surfaces and different materials which, on spray aircraft, remained contaminated with dioxin and allowed aircrew, aerial port and maintainers to be exposed.

The dioxin on the former spray birds couldn't be removed - it took three decontamination efforts on Patches in 1995 for the AF Museum to get it safe enough to position inside their Vietnam-era display, yet we flew them immediately after the Providers left Vietnam and were so very much more contaminated in those earlier years!
cables, wood, canvas, rubber, cotton, painted surfaces - all contaminated and unable to be decontaminated on Agent Orange spray C-123 aircraft (photo David Henry)

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