© Copyright CJ Magro, Paratroopers of the 50's
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 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  1955. 
** 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'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 
1958 Poster
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 their gear. 
A view of the interior looking forward, U.S. Air Force photo.
forward view
Both Pictures were taken from an excellent site :
A view of the interior looking aft, U.S. Air Force photo.
rear view
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 sticks. 

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. 

Para in a bunch

Now here's Clyde's account of jumping The Big Bird
Clyde, also furnished these two great pictures with his story 
C-124 in Flight
Note the "little" C-119 in upper right corner

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.
Clyde Storie 
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 Engineers. 
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 the air.
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 the enemy. 

Paratroopers of the 50's is sad to report Clyde passed away on December 1, 2001.

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:   rbuff@earthlink.net

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 seen.

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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