Thought our viewers would like to know how it
was to jump
THE BIG BIRD -- The C-124
The C-124 was the largest plane of the 50's
- 70's era and the rarest.
Douglas only built 448 and all were
released from active service in the mid-70's
Since I had never Jumped the big bird aka C-124,
I asked a couple of Airborne Buddies to tell us what it was like.
The following stories were furnished by:
** Bob Has been a contributor since we start our site in 1-1-98 with pictures , rare Airborne collectibles and most importantly his time .
Bob ,I know I speak for all the viewers when I say "Thank you"
|Bob Marshall ** , who served with the 101st
Airborne 502nd Mortar Battery and H/H
Company, From 1962 to 1964,
||Clyde Storie , who served with the 18th
special Forces and 307 Airborne Engineers. He served 1951, to
Bob Marshall's Account of Jumping the C-124
|When C. J. Magro asked me to write an article on my experiences
jumping from a C-124 I was a bit surprised…… I thought most of the paratroopers of the ‘50s and ‘60s had blasted from a C-124 at least once. As it turns out, a 124 jump is not as common as I thought. Since the 101st Airborne was STRAC-1 in those days, we did get a lot of variety in our activities. So….. if you have a few minutes, let me share some
C-124 facts and my personal impression of jumping the huge flying
beast the Air Force guys nicknamed
A 1958 poster furnished by Bob
You can email Bob at:
The C-124 Globemaster was manufactured from 1949 through 1955. The
USAF bought a total of 448 C-124s at a cost of $1,660,163 each. It was HUGE and different. Among it’s
features are front clamshell loading doors with hydraulic ramps and an
ELEVATOR under the rear fuselage. It was 130 feet long and 48 foot high.
With it’s 4 Pratt and Whitney 3800 HP engines it had a range of 2175 miles
at a cruising speed of 200 mph. With the second floor folded up it could
carry trucks, tanks, bulldozers and other large equipment. With the hinged
second floor folded down, it could carry 200 combat ready soldiers and
|A view of the interior looking forward, U.S. Air Force photo.
Both Pictures were taken from an excellent site :
|| A view of the interior looking aft, U.S. Air Force photo.
http://home.swbell.net/outlook6/ designed by: Jim Corcoran
The second floor is a feature that sets the C-124 apart from the
other planes we jumped. The second floor was hinged where it attached to
the left and right sides of the plane. When lowered in place and secured,
two sets of stairs/ladders were attached and you could move between
levels. Seating was the ever popular metal and webbing which folded down
from the sides.
When loading paratroopers the procedure was simple. They calculated
the number that could be dropped in one pass, and then doubled that number.
The lower sticks would exit on the first pass. The aircraft would then
circle for a second pass. While the plane circled, the upper level sticks
would descend and take the places of the first sticks. The procedure of
standing, equipment checking and jumping would then be repeated.
First observation. ALL jumps are different. I once made three jumps
from C-130 aircraft in the SAME DAY. And each one was different. The C-124
was a good plane to jump. Big door, long door to rudder distance, high
rudder and upward angled under-portion of the tail section made clearing
the aircraft easy. Also the plane was wide, insuring a good distance between
My first C-124 jump was my 14th military jump. It was a mass
tactical jump staged at Ft. Campbell, Ky. The entry in my jump log reads;
“ 1266 jumpers, no casualties “. What I remember most about that day was
walking off two canopies before getting a clean piece of air to descend
properly. The air was so thick with canopies the birds were forced to remain
on the ground and walk. The sheer number of jumpers was likely the reason
the drop was so safe. There was never a moment to relax. As a result, everyone
came through mission capable.
Now here's Clyde's account of jumping The Big Bird
Clyde, also furnished these two great pictures
with his story
Note the "little" C-119 in upper right corner
Paratroopers of the 50's is sad to report Clyde passed away on December 1, 2001.
|CJ, I jumped the big bird three times . The first time I recall
that I had to be helped up the ladder through the only door located
on the right rear of the aircraft. You went in the rear of the aircraft
walked towards the front and then back again towards the rear on the opposite
side and upstairs to the second deck. I never had the chance to go upstairs
but I understand that almost the same procedure was used up there. On take
off the big bird shook and rattled much like the 747 jets do today
only the props really accented the vibrations.
The second jump was not much different except I was the first man in the door and it was hailing. The hail was so bad that it stung my face so bad it felt like some one
was pushing needles in my skin. I can remember thinking I cant wait until
the green light comes on so I can get the hell out of here.
Auburndale Fl. 33823 941 967 4000
PS, I have jumped the C-46 C-47s C-119s
C-82s and C-124s. I also jumped a B-29 but that is another story and probably
cannot be verified so I won't get into that. If any of you guys can recall
any of this, give me a call. At the time I was assigned to the 307 Airborne
|The third time was the mass jump. I was in the lead plane. We had
three waves of three planes each and 200 fully equipped men in each plane.
After I had jumped and landed I looked up and saw over 1200 men still in
I'll never forget that as long as I live. If we had been doing
a combat jump the shear number of troopers would have scared hell out of
Here's another account of jumping The Big Bird by Robert Buffington.
Robert, served ten years in the 82nd Airborne, the 11th Airborne and MACV. He also served another thirteen years with the National Guard.
You can email Robert at: email@example.com
I’ll never forget May 6th 1957. I was
a young eighteen-year old boy who weighed all of 145 pounds. I remember
that day because that was the first day I was ever on an airplane. It was
the first day of jump week and we were scheduled to jump the C-124 Globemaster.
Boy what a sight, it was one damn large airplane, the biggest I had ever
I think our class was the first to make our
qualification jumps from the Globemaster.
I can not remember how many jumpers were loaded on the aircraft
but it was a lot. Our class had five hundred plus students and there was
only five or six aircraft.
I was to be the last man in the right stick on the second pass. When
we loaded the aircraft I was led to the ‘stairs’, they were more like a
ladder. I had a hard time making it up the ‘stairs’ (latter) and it was
a Hollywood jump. I followed the instructor to the rear of the upper deck
and took the seat he indicated. It was right on the edge of the deck and
had an unobstructed view of both jump doors.
On that Monday morning the plane rushed down the runway at Pope Air
Force Base making more noise and shaking more than any thing I had ever
experienced. All at once the planes engines started
making even more noise and the plane shook much more and came to a sudden
stop. There was some kind of a mechanical problem and we returned
to the ramp. Our planeload of jumpers did not jump that day.
The next day we tried again, we were making our first jump and the
rest of our class was making their second jump. We loaded in the same manner
and I was once again sitting at the edge of the upper deck. This
time I was an old experienced hand and acted as if the noise and shaking
did not bother me.
I’ll never forget how I felt when they opened the doors and I could
see directly out the left jump door all the way to the ground. The troopers
on the lower deck went through the jump commands and started exiting the
plane. I sat there in total amazement, watching the guys disappear out
the door. I did however, hear a bump-bump as they
were exiting. One of the instructors was standing next to my seat
and he leaned over and asked (yelled) if I heard the bumps. He
went on to explain how that was the result of the jumpers having weak exits.
They were bumping off the side of the plane.
After the lower deck was cleared we troopers on the upper deck had
to move down the ladder and take seats on the lower deck. We then went
through the commands and make our first jump.
Later we experienced another truly unforgettable thing when we made
the equipment jumps. Trying to go down the stairs
with all the equipment strapped on our butts was something else.
I had my five jumps from the C124 in jump school and a couple more within
the next couple years.
In Conclusion a little C-124 Trivia furnished by Bob Marshall
*** Most folks have heard of The Bermuda Triangle. What is seldom
mentioned is this.... the largest single loss of personnel happened in 1951
when a C-124 Globemaster with 53 passengers disappeared without a trace. ***
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